An Update On Two Art Cases In the News: Trial Postponed in Christie’s Diamond Case, While Fraud Case Against Wildenstein Proceeds
12/02/2019This fall has seen developments in two cases we’ve been following. Each case raises unique substantive legal issues, but the recent developments also serve to highlight the costs and complexity of litigating art disputes in court.
Knoedler’s Holding Company and Its Sole Shareholder Face Potential Liability In Connection With Forgeries Following Recent Ruling; Trials Set For This Summer
05/23/2019This blog has for years followed the Knoedler scandal, in which a venerable New York gallery closed in disgrace in 2011 following revelations that it had sold dozens of artworks—about $60 million worth of paintings purported to be by Rothko, Pollock, Motherwell, and other major Abstract Expressionists—that turned out to be forgeries. And the fallout from Knoedler’s implosion is ongoing even now; just this month, a federal judge issued a decision with important implications for the upcoming trials in two Knoedler cases. The ruling also is of general interest to anyone in the art business because it emphasizes the importance of clear business procedures, corporate oversight and legal formalities when it comes to closely held business entities.
Trust Sues Wildenstein & Co. Over 1985 Sale of Inauthentic Bonnard Work
A trust entity affiliated with prominent art collector Neil Wallace has sued a prominent art gallery over a 1985 sale of a work that was only recently discovered to be fake. The case will likely explore issues related to timeliness in art disputes, as well as questions related to the diligence required by buyers and sellers of artworks.
Lawsuit Concerning Forged Leon Golub Works Partially Survives Summary Judgment
08/09/2018In an important ruling issued last week, a federal judge allowed fraud claims asserted by art collector Andrew Hall to proceed against a former art-history professor and her son, Lorettan and Nicholas Gascard, alleging that they sold him a number of forged Leon Golub works. The court’s decision is instructive for collectors who may have been duped into purchasing forged artworks, only to discover many years later that they were fakes.
Indonesian Theme Park Filled With Art Knockoffs Illustrates Challenges In Defending Copyrights Across Borders
05/08/2018The oddly audacious copying of artwork at Rabbit Town illustrates a simple fact about artists who want to defend their intellectual property rights; that mission gets more complicated when an issue crosses international borders, because there is no universal international copyright law that protects an artwork all over the world.
New Mexico Merchant Will Be First Person Ever Sentenced Under Indian Arts and Crafts Act
03/19/2018New Mexico jewelry merchant Nael Ali will soon become the first person ever sentenced under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (“IACA”), a decades-old federal law that prohibits the sale of fake Native American goods.
Grossman LLP Obtains Favorable Decision In Case Involving Stolen Jasper Johns Works; Gallery’s Claims Will Proceed
01/26/2018Canadian art gallery Equinox Gallery Limited (“Equinox”) will be allowed to move forward with its lawsuit against art dealer Fred Dorfman following a favorable decision from a federal judge this week. Grossman LLP is representing Equinox in the case.
Serial Forger Indicted Again
06/30/2016Convicted forger Vincent Lopreto has been arrested again in connection with forged artworks, having allegedly commenced another art-fraud scheme just weeks after his release from a two-year prison sentence for a similar crime.
Case of Forged Golub Works Will Move Forward
06/27/2017Andrew Hall will be able to pursue his suit against Lorettann and Nikolas Gascard, who Hall alleges sold forgeries of paintings by American artist Leon Golub. Hall sued the former art-history professor and her son last fall in federal district court in New Hampshire, claiming that he purchased twenty-four works, either directly from the Gascards or indirectly through auction houses. Hall sued the Gascards for fraud, seeking the return of the approximately $700,000 purchase price for the works.
Recent Legal Developments Regarding Forgeries Serve As Warnings To Collectors
05/04/2017 | By Kate LucasWe have continuously followed stories in the news and in the courts about the continuing efforts of the art market to deal with the problem of forgeries. From the Knoedler scandal to the concerns about counterfeit Old Masters being peddled on the European market, this issue is clearly not going away anytime soon. Today, we take note of developments in three more cases that shine a spotlight on this ongoing challenge.
Antiques Dealer Ordered to Pay $1.1 Million Over Sale of Fake Renoir
04/06/2017New York gallery owner Alex Komolov has emerged victorious in litigation against antiques dealer Jack Shaoul arising out of the sale of a fake Renoir. Komolov, owner of the Alskom Gallery, sued Shaoul in 2013 for unjust enrichment, conversion, and fraudulent misrepresentation, claiming that the dealer sold him a forged Renoir painting for $1.1million in 2010. After trial, a jury awarded Komolov the full purchase price plus interest. According to Komolov’s attorney, Shaoul previously served 40 months in prison for mail and wire fraud and conspiracy, including misattribution of a painting.
Appeals Court Upholds Jury Award To Sculptor For Copyright Infringement
03/28/2017Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a $450,000 jury award in a case against a businessman who commissioned knockoff copies of several of the artist’s sculptures. The plaintiff in the case, California artist Donald Wakefield, is known for his large-scale stone and metal sculptural works, each of which is one-of-a-kind. According to court filings, in 2004 he contacted a handful of real-estate developers whom he believed might be interested in purchasing some of his sculptures. Hprovided these prospective buyers with information about his work, and he pointed them toward his website displaying photographs of his creations. One of the businesses he solicited was Olen Properties, owned by billionaire Igor Olenicoff.
Old Master Forgery Story Update: Sotheby’s Files Another Suit To Recover Sale Proceeds, This Time From Sale of Allegedly Fake Hals
03/09/2017In November, we wrote about increasing scrutiny of multiple Old Master artworks that have recently come under suspicion as potential forgeries. And in January, we posted about a federal lawsuit Sotheby’s has filed in connection with the scandal; in that suit, Sotheby’s seeks to recover sale proceeds from a collector who sold one of the fake works at a 2012 Sotheby’s auction. Now, the fallout continues; in February, Sotheby’s filed a second suit over another artwork, this time in the U.K. court system; as with the first suit, the auction house’s goal is to claw back the proceeds of a sale of a work sold through Sotheby’s that has since been shown to be a fake.
Sotheby’s Sues Consignor To Recover Sale Proceeds From Auction of Allegedly Fake Parmigianino, Amid Continuing Fears About Old Master Forgeries
01/29/2017In November, we wrote about increasing scrutiny of multiple Old Master artworks that have recently come under suspicion as potential forgeries. Now, federal litigation has commenced in connection with the scandal, as Sotheby’s attempts to recover sale proceeds from a collector who sold one of the fake works at a 2012 Sotheby’s auction.
Forgery Case Highlights Importance of Pre-Sale Diligence
01/27/2017Andrew Hall, a hedge-fund manager and art collector, filed suit against Lorettann Gascard, a former art-history professor at Franklin Pierce University, and her son, Nikolas, alleging that the Gascards sold him twenty-four artworks by the famed artist Leon Golub that actually were forgeries. The Gascards are now firing back that Hall alone should be held responsible for his failure to conduct adequate pre-sale diligence; a common refrain among accused fraudsters looking to cast blame back on sophisticated art collectors, like Hall.
Fake Old Master Painting Uncovered in Europe Raises Fears of More Sophisticated Forgeries on the Market
11/02/2016The art world is watching with concern the unfolding story of a fake Frans Hals painting; facts are still developing as of this writing, but it’s possible that the work may not be an isolated forgery but rather the harbinger of a larger group of well-executed fakes that could shake up the Old Master market.
South Korea Seeks to Increase Regulatory Oversight of Art Market
10/27/2016The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has passed new legislation imposing strict regulations on art transactions. The law is intended to increase transparency in the art market by requiring more documentation, and establishing regulatory bodies to oversee the authentication of artworks and investigation of forgeries. The law may be implemented as early as August 2017.
Strange Cases of Authentication: When Is the Artist's Word Enough?
08/04/2016Two pending cases present opposite but equally curious issues of art authentication by a living artist. In one, the artist Peter Doig is being sued because he disavowed authorship of a work that a collector says is by Doig; in the other, an artist claims authorship over works that another man claims to have forged. Both cases pose interesting questions about who, if not the artist, is the final say on whether an artwork is by the artist’s hand.
Following Mid-Trial Settlement, Art World Continues to Feel the Aftershocks of the Knoedler Forgery Scandal
02/29/2016After much legal wrangling, a jury heard testimony last month in the first civil trial arising out of the art forgery scandal that took down one of New York’s most prominent galleries. The story began in 2011 when word spread that, over the course of more than a decade, the once-venerable Knoedler Gallery had sold about $60 million worth of artworks—purported to be by Pollock, Motherwell, Rothko, de Kooning, and other giants of the Abstract Expressionist movement—that later turned out to be forgeries. Since then, more details have emerged.
Following Summary Judgment Defeat, Knoedler Defendants Settle With Another Group of Plaintiffs
12/24/2015This blog has written often about the Knoedler scandal, which exploded in 2011 when a once-venerable art gallery closed following revelations that, over the course of more than a decade, it had sold about $60 million worth of artworks—purported to be by Pollock, Motherwell, Rothko, de Kooning, and other giants of the Abstract Expressionist movement—that later turned out to be forgeries. Our previous posts contain more detail, but in short, the works all came to Knoedler through a Long Island art dealer, Glafira Rosales, who claimed to represent an anonymous collector liquidating a collection of previously-unknown masterworks. It turned out that the seller was a fiction, and the works were actually created by a little-known artist in Queens at the behest of Rosales (who in 2013 pled guilty to a litany of federal crimes).
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