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Is It Real?

According to The New York Times’ Arts Beat blog, “The once-grand Knoedler gallery [in New York] has been accused again of selling a forged painting for $5.5 million that was attributed to an American master, in this case, the artist Mark Rothko.”

Knoedler & Co. Photo: galleristny.com

The NY Times continues, “The Martin Hilti Family Trust sued the gallery on Tuesday, stating that a forensic analysis of the work “Untitled (1956)” reveals that a particular red pigment used in the work “was not developed until the 1960s, years after the purported ‘1956’ date of the work.”

Untitled,1956 attributed to Mark Rothko

Arts Beat states, “This suit is the fourth filed in Manhattan federal court against Knoedler & Co. since it closed its doors in November 2011. It names Knoedler’s owner, Michael Hammer, its former president Ann Freedman, as well as Glafira Rosales, the Long Island dealer currently being investigated by the F.B.I. for supplying this painting and dozens of others to Knoedler.”

Left, the “Elegy” painting that the dealer Julian Weissman bought from Glafira Rosales and sold to an Irish gallery that later demanded its money back; right, Motherwell’s “Spanish Elegy (Alcaraz) XV,” from 1953, which is part of the catalogue raisonné sponsored by the Dedalus Foundation. Photo: NY Times

“One of the suits, filed over a $17 million work attributed to Jackson Pollock, was settled in October. A second suit was brought by Domenico DeSole, the chairman of Tom Ford’s fashion firm, and his wife, Eleanore, over a $8.3 million work attributed to Mark Rothko, while a third was filed by John D. Howard, a Wall St. executive, over a $4 million painting attributed to Willem de Kooning.”

A PURPORTED POLLOCK A Rosales painting signed “J. Pollock” and sold for $17 million to a London hedge-fund director who is suing for a refund. Photo: NY Times

“Mr. Hammer’s lawyer, Charles D. Schmerler, said: “The Hilti complaint rehashes the same baseless claims contained in the prior lawsuits. Given the attention this matter has received, it is not unexpected to see copycat suits filed. We plan to aggressively litigate this case and expect to see Knoedler and Mr. Hammer fully vindicated.”

From in-depth Vanity Fair article, "A Question of Provenance" PHOTO: BY NINA LEEN/TIME & LIFE PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES

“Ms. Rosales’ lawyer has said that she has never knowingly sold any forged works.”

The forgery stamp that the Dedalus Foundation put on the back of the disputed Motherwell “Elegy” as part of a court settlement.

“Ms. Freedman’s lawyer, Nicholas Gravante Jr, provided a statement from her that said: “These paintings were exhibited in museums around the world and heralded as masterworks. This particular Rothko was featured at the Beyeler Foundation in 2002. The personal vendettas and professional jealously behind the attacks on the works and on my reputation should be obvious.”

What’s the truth? There’s a lot of reporting out there on this topic. Do a little reading on the topic and you be the judge. Let us know what you think here on WallSpin.

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