The Wall Street Journal is gearing up for Monday’s trial of Domenico de Sole’s claims against Knoedler and Ann Freedman over the forged Mark Rothko painting de Sole bought from Knoedler and whether Freedman and Knoedler should have known the work was fake. One question that must be resolved is whether experts validated these works. Pepe Karmel, associate professor in the art-history department at New York University, was one of the scholars buyers were told had seen and inspected the works:
“I passed through the gallery when they had some would-be Pollocks there,” he said, but didn’t venture an opinion, adding that he doesn’t know whether Ms. Freedman was aware the works were counterfeit.
These days, he said, “No art historian in his or her right mind will give a public or even a private opinion about authenticity, because you can be sued.”
At this point, it is impossible to tell whether Professor Karmel is stating what took place or protecting himself in retrospect. The pervasive fear of offering an opinion on a work’s authenticity is a bit of an anachronism in 2004 when the Rothko was sold to de Sole.