A gallery with a reputation for sour art deals is in the headlines again, this time accused of selling a fake modernist work allegedly painted by color master Mark Rothko.
The Knoedler Gallery, famous for selling a fake Jackson Pollock painting in 2007, has been slapped with a lawsuit by the Martin Hilti family after facilitating the sale of a $5.5 million untitled painting claimed to be a Rothko work, according to Blouin Artinfo. But forensic analysis has since shown that the painting features a red pigment developed in the 1960s, shattering the masterwork's provenance and prompting the buyers to file charges with U.S. District Court.
The New York Times reports that Knoedler originally bought the painting for $750K in 2002 from Long Island art dealer Gloria Rosales, who is currently under investigation by the FBI for trafficking forged paintings. The Hilti family was reportedly not aware of this connection, and was instead told that the painting came from a private collection in Switzerland. Now Knoedler Gallery is accused of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a federal law that allows extended penalties for ongoing criminal organizations. It's a claim that director Ann Freedman steadfastly denies in a statement provided to Blouin Artinfo: “These paintings were exhibited in museums around the world and heralded as masterworks." She continues, "The personal vendettas and professional jealously behind the attacks on the works and on my reputation should be obvious.”
This is the fourth lawsuit collectors have filed against Knoedler Gallery in just 13 months, including complaints over the sale of the fake Jackson Pollock drip work, a fake de Kooning painting and another "Rothko" work worth $8.3 million. Not surprisingly, the gallery has closed all operations, though Freedman continues to run her own gallery on New York's Upper East Side.
MORE ART NEWS:
LA Art Book Fair Debuts This Week: The LA Art Book Fair will kick off its first run at the Museum of Contemporary Art this week, featuring publishers from 20 different countries in a similar format to the New York Art Book Fair. “This is where the renegades, the contrarians, the visionaries, the idealists live,” Siglio publisher Lisa Pearson told The LA Times. (The LA Times)
Rotterdam Suspect Claims To Have Seen Stolen Paintings After The Heist: A former Romanian model charged with the theft of several priceless paintings from Rotterdam's Kunsthal Museum has admitted to seeing two of the artworks since the heist. His lawyers told AFP this week that the suspect came across the paintings when another person tried to sell them to a potential buyer, Constantin Dinescu. Alas, the works still remain missing. (Art Daily)
The empty space where Henri Matisse' painting "La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune" was hanging, right, is seen next to a painting by Maurice Denis, center, and Pierre Bonnard, left, at Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)
Utah Art Center In Battle With City Over Funding Cuts And Eviction Threats: The Central Utah Art Center has filed a federal lawsuit claiming Ephraim City censored its works and moved to evict the organization after it displayed art pieces the city council found to be offensive. The exhibits in question, which featured nudity and themes of sexuality and gender, were described as "smut" to the Salt Lake City Tribune by City Manager Regan Colli, who added that he was "saddened that a historic building built through sacrifice and faith by Ephraim’s pioneer founders would be used to display such offensive items." (The Salt Lake Tribune)
Texans For The Arts Lobby Lawmakers For More Funding: The arts and culture non-profit "Texans for the Arts" is claiming that the creative industry has amounted to $4.6 billion in taxable sales and $290 million in state revenue. The group is now heading to the state capitol to lobby for increased arts funding. (CBS Local)
A Legendary Theater Flop Comes Back, Revised And Renewed: After one of the most unforgettable theater disasters of the 1980s, critic Frank Rich declared: “From now on, there will always be two groups of theatergoers in this world: those who have seen ‘Moose Murders,’ and those who have not.” Now, with a revised version of the play opening Off Broadway this week, the former category might get a bit bigger. (The New York Times)
Becoming A Part Of Art: A clever new ad campaign for the Manchester Art Gallery is superimposing the faces of famous paintings onto its patrons. Artist Dorothee Golz has done it before, but that fact doesn't make this endeavor any less amazing. (Creative Review)
Andy Warhol's 'Medical Inflation' Could Buy You One Year's Worth Of American Health Insurance: Yep, according to calculations by The Wall Street Journal, Warhol's $15,000 illustration is just $475 shy of the average cost of a family insurance plan. (The Wall Street Journal)
And The Royal Portrait Continues To Get Press: The debate surrounding Kate Middleton's
monstrosity portrait continues, with one commenter on The Guardian's website making a pretty valid point:
"What is the point of a royal portrait anyway? Historically it's always been a way of showing what the royal person looks like to the common or garden pleb, who historically wouldn't have been able to see them. Nowadays though, a quick google and I can see the Duchess topless, should I wish. So why bother? What's wrong with just a half decent photo?"