As Super Bowl Sunday revealed that Ann Freedman has apparently settled claims against her in the first Knoedler trial over the creation of forged Abstract Expressionist paintings to whose orchestration Glafiria Rosales pleaded guilty, news broke of federal charges against Michigan art dealer Eric Spoutz whom the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has accused of selling dozens of fake paintings. Most distressing is that Spoutz’s website touts a long list of museums to which he claims that he sold paintings as works by Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and others. Those institutions in particular, and any other affected buyer or affected party, should be proactive about their legal rights and options. The government’s complaint does not specify the purchasers or recipients of any work alleged to be fake, making it all the more important for anyone who might be affected to seize the intiative.
A few weeks ago some interesting speculation started circulating about the possibility of a new forgery operation in Germany, which was home to the now-infamous Wolfgang Beltracchi. Beltracchi successfully fooled buyers for years with forged Expressionist and Modernist paintings, going so far as to invent a fictional “Jäger Collection” (including a staged photograph of Beltracchi’s wife purporting to show a painting on the wall of an ancestors home). The most interesting thing about the current story is that it is impossible to tell yet whether there is really a problem; the most detailed efforts to date have been unable to confirm whether Kurt Waldmann, the artist in question, even existed. Many of the indicia of concern are there, but they are hardly conclusive.
Topics: Jäger Collection, Kurt Waldmann, Brussels, Forgery, “Künstliche Tatsachen / Boundary Objects", authentication, authenticity, Pascal Polar, Strasbourg, Bauhaus, Dada, Berlin Wall, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Jean Milossis, Wolfgang Beltracchi, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Kunsthaus Dresden, Museums, Berliner Kurier
In the course of our work here, I like to call out books and articles that I feel are worthy of praise, usually the in the course of a particular post or issue. After a too-long stay on the corner of my desk awaiting time to read it, I finally finished a book published last year that should be an essential for any collector, or lawyer dealing with clients across borders. Entitled The Art Collecting Legal Handbook (Thomson Reuters), the book is edited by Bruno Boesch and Massimo Sterpi, both notable European practitioners in art and cultural affairs law, at Froriep in London and Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati in Rome, respectively.
Topics: Legislation, the Middle East, looted property, Forgery, Auctions, VAT, Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati, authenticity, London, Sam Keller, Julien Anfruns, droite de suite, Froriep, Moral Rights, Europe, North America, Holocaust claims, California, Fondation Beyeler, Howard Kennedy FSI, Thomson Reuters, Asia, Rome, Restitution, International Council of Museums, Massimo Sterpi, United States, World War II, Sabina von Arx, 1970 UNESCO Convention, Morgan Stanley, Art Fairs, Publications, Litigation, due diligence, Immunity from Seizure Act, Museums, Bruno Boesch, 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Ex, Daniel McClean, New York
For more than two years now, the collapse of the M. Knoedler & Co. Gallery in New York amidst allegations of forged paintings by well-known 20th Century artists has sent ripples in all directions: legal, art historical, legislative, and connoisseurship. Several recent developments have drawn focus to the likely litigation fallout among those affected by the scandal.
Topics: Andy Warhol Foundation, Daedalus Foundation, William K. Rashabaum, Forgery, Knoedler, Ann Freedman, Wolfgang Belctracchi, Marco Grassi, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Patricia Cohen, The New Yorker, Litigation, Glafira Rosales, New York Times, M. Knoedler & Co., connoisseurship, New York Magazine, National Public Radio
For those of us trying to follow art law developments in Germany, particularly to get access to original source and court documents in German, Peter Bert’s Dispute Resolution in Germany Blog is a terrific source. Between the Hans Sachs collection case and the contuing fallout from the Wolfgang Beltracchi forgery scandal and the fictional “Jägers Collection,” Germany has had a busy year of art law prominence, particularly with regard to forgery issues. Two recent posts bear reading, both of which attach the original court opinions in German, for their interesting analysis.
Topics: Forgery, Lempertz, Jörg Immendorf, Peter Bert, Germany, Hans Sachs, Rotes Bild mit Pferden, Wolfgang Beltracchi, Dispute Resolution in Germany, Red Painting with Horses, Copyright, Heinrich Campendonk, Jägers Collection, intellectual property
What was the feel-good, ersatz Antiques-Roadshow story of the summer may soon be one of the most prominent art law issues in the country. A painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir entitled “Paysage Bords de Seine” that was purchased at a flea market in 2010 for $7 and authenticated this year as genuine may turn out to have been stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Confessed forger Wolfgang Beltracchi is now telling German weekly Der Spiegel that the 14 works to which he confessed forging at his trial last fall are part of a group of “more than 50” artists whose paintings he faked.
We’ve been following a number of prominent stories for several weeks now and thinking about what they mean in the crossover between art and the law. It’s fair to say that a theme is starting to develop, namely, that after the Beltracchi forgery trial in Cologne, the Warhol Foundation’s decision to close its doors to authentication requests, and the brewing scandal over the authenticity of paintings sold by Knoedler and other galleries, the legal significance of knowing—and even asking—the age-old question from Art History 101—“who made that?”—has come again to the fore.
Topics: Cologne, Forgery, Knoedler, slander, The Art Newspaper, Inc., Degas, Jackson Pollock, libel, catalogue raisonné, Wolfgang Beltracchi, Collections, Francis Bacon, The Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, defamation, Georgina Adam, The Art Law Blog, connoisseurship
The forgery trial in Cologne ended yesterday with the sentencing of Wolfgang Beltracchi and his co-defendants for their now-infamous forgeries and sale of the fictional "Werner Jäger" collection-the name of his wife's grandfather. Beltracchi was sentenced to 6 years, consistent with the deal struck last month with prosecutors, the other defendants (including his wife) to various lesser terms.
On the heels of yesterday's interruption and pressure from the presiding judge to accept a six-year sentence, the accused leader of a forgery ring in Germany apparently confessed today to 14 forgeries. It's been reported that he said that he enjoyed fooling collectors and experts. It is anticipated that the other defendants will receive similar sentences, though it is not yet certain.