Sunday, February 7, 2016

NY TIMES: Knoedler Gallery Director Settles Lawsuit Over Fake Rothko

FEB. 7, 2016

Ann Freedman, long a leading New York gallerist, and a couple who accused her in a federal lawsuit of fraudulently selling them a fake Rothko painting for $8.3 million settled their lawsuit on Sunday.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but the agreement was confirmed by lawyers for Ms. Freedman and for the collectors, Domenico and Eleanore De Sole.

The De Soles, who filed their case in 2012, had been seeking $25 million from Ms. Freedman and Knoedler & Co., the gallery where she had served as president and which closed in 2011, just ahead of several similar lawsuits from unsuspecting collectors who had bought fakes.

The case against Ms. Freedman, whose testimony had long been anticipated, is expected to be dismissed in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday, said Luke Nikas, a lawyer for Ms. Freedman. But the case against Knoedler, now entering its third week, would continue.
Forensic accountant Roger Siefert gave testimony on the profits Knoedler received from the sales of the Rosales Collection. 
The settlement follows damaging testimony about how much Knoedler and Ms. Freedman earned from the sale of more than 30 fakes that were said to be by Abstract Expressionist masters but were actually painted by an all but unknown Chinese artist in the garage of his Queens home.
James Martin, a forensic conservator, explained to the jury how he tested the painting and found it to be a fake.

Ms. Freedman and the gallery have said they, too, were fooled by the paintings, which were all provided by Glafira Rosales, a Long Island art dealer, who has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the case.
Among the mysteries of the case has been how readily the art market embraced works that had no documented provenance. At least two of the Rosales works ended up hanging in a major museum before their inauthenticity was discovered.
Lawyers for the De Soles elicited testimony from a series of art experts who said that they had never authenticated the Rosales works that Ms. Freedman appeared to present them as endorsing.

Art expert David Anfam questioned by Gregory Clarick.

One, David Anfam, volunteered to send a “a not long, yet highly persuasive email” to a museum in Buffalo after Ms. Freedman wrote to him about the possibility of that institution acquiring a Barnett Newman painting that turned out to be among the fakes.
Still, Mr. Anfam and Christopher Rothko, the artist’s son, testified that they had never given Ms. Freedman permission to include their names on a list of “individuals with special expertise on the work of Mark Rothko” who had viewed the painting that the De Soles bought.

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