Lots of reputations getting tarnished in today’s New York Times front-page story on a “federal investigation” of Glafira Rosales which is really just an update of a New York Post story from this Summer. It is a shame that the Times sources the whole story from un-named persons who have been “briefed on the investigation” but “requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it.”
The paper implies that the FBI has been investigating Rosales for two years but gives no solid details. Nor does it explain the connection between the case and the sudden closure of Knoedler this week:
The Knoedler gallery, which abruptly closed Wednesday after 165 years in business, has not been implicated in the investigation. But on Friday a London collector, Pierre Lagrange, who bought one of the works, “Untitled 1950” by Pollock, for $17 million in 2007, sued the gallery and Ms. Freedman, contending that it is a forgery. His forensic analysis found that two paints in the work had not been invented until after Pollock’s death, the suit said.
“It’s a sad day when a venerable gallery goes out of business when confronted with the fact that it sold its clients a $17 million fake painting rather than stand by their client,” said Matthew Dontzin, Mr. Lagrange’s lawyer.
A Knoedler spokeswoman described the suit’s allegations of misrepresentation as baseless and said there was no connection between the suit and the timing of the gallery’s closing.
The story sucks in a number of other art world figures when it turns to the issue of a Motherwell work that has now been discredited. Red flags should have been flying when the works had no paperwork to support them or their provenance.
Jack Flam, president of Dedalus, and John Elderfield, a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art, said they initially saw no reason to question the Motherwells from Ms. Rosales that they viewed at Knoedler or Mr. Weissman’s.
But in late 2007, as more Motherwells from Ms. Rosales — all presented as part of his famed “Elegies to the Spanish Republic” series about the Spanish Civil War — came to Mr. Flam’s attention, he began to have his doubts.
In 2009, a forensic analysis of two paintings — one dated 1953 that Ms. Freedman bought, and another dated 1955 displayed at Knoedler — concluded that both contained pigments that were not “invented until at least 10 years after the date on the paintings,” according to court records.
After the analysis, Dedalus, which had deemed Mr. Weissman’s Motherwell as genuine two years earlier, changed its opinion. “If one of the paintings is wrong, then they’re all wrong,” said Mr. Flam. By that point, Mr. Weissman had already sold that “Spanish Elegy,” and when the foundation reversed itself, the buyer, Killala Fine Art from Ireland, wanted to back out.
Possible Forging of Modern Art is Investigated (New York Times)