Judd Tully sleuths the questionable Franz Kline painting removed from Swann Galleries sale this week. With the help of New York dealer Arman Bartos, who claims the fake works are too clean to have been authentic Klines, Tully shows the telltales calling the work into doubt:
ARTINFO has learned that the painting last sold for $28,750 in October 2009 at Cobbs Auctioneers in Peterborough, New Hampshire, a regional auction house better known for selling needlepoint portraits and 19th-century American art than postwar or contemporary fare.That Cobbs catalogue entry for the Kline — then lot #30 — is still posted on the firm’s Web site and includes photographs of the back of the work on paper, clearly showing a paper label with manual typewriter lettering from the now defunct Grace Borgenicht Gallery of New York.
The work withdrawn from today’s sale at Swann had no label on its backside.
“Now they’ve gotten smart,” said Bartos. “They’ve taken off the fake Grace Borgenicht label.” That prominent New York gallery, in business from the 1950s onward, never handled Kline’s works.