Domenico De Sole says he trusted that $8.3 million painting he bought was a genuine Rothko
Domenico De Sole, on the witness stand Wednesday, pointed to the fake Rothko painting he purchased from Knoedler & Co. gallery.PHOTO: ELIZABETH WILLIAMS
From the witness stand in Manhattan federal court Wednesday,Sotheby’s board chairman Domenico De Sole said he didn’t ask any experts to authenticate the $8.3 million painting he purchased, believing it was the work of abstract-expressionist artist Mark Rothko.
He didn’t need to, he said. He trusted the word of Ann Freedman: “She was the top of the art world.”
The painting turned out to be a fake and is at the center of a civil trial unfolding in federal court. Mr. De Sole and his wife are seeking to recoup their money and win damages for what they allege was fraud and racketeering perpetrated by Ms. Freedman and the Knoedler & Co. gallery, where she served as president.
In a scandal that rocked the art world, Knoedler was found to have sold dozens of fake paintings that it said were the work of midcentury modernist masters, such as Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock.
Ms. Freedman and Knoedler say they believed the paintings to be real, that they were conned by a Long Island art dealer who said she was working with an anonymous Swiss collector, known only as “Mr. X.”