Michael Schnayerson asks the pertinent question in Vanity Fair now that Glafira Rosales has not implicated Ann Freedman or the Knoedler Gallery itself in the forgeries both sold. Pierre LaGrange has reached a settlement:
The other buyers, among them Domenico De Sole, chairman of Tom Ford International, and John D. Howard, C.E.O. of Irving Place Capital, are not so fortunate, at least not yet. Knoedler hasn’t settled with them. Now that Rosales has admitted her guilt, the buyers may have a harder time arguing for restitution from Knoedler and Freedman, who were, arguably, fellow victims. Which means the buyers may turn their lonely eyes to . . . Michael Hammer.
Hammer, grandson of billionaire industrialist Armand Hammer, is the chairman of the Armand Hammer Foundation, which holds a controlling interest in Knoedler. John Howard says he’ll keep on with his suit “to the death” and adds: “Hammer talked with Ann every day. He knew everything that was going on. She sold a painting for $4 million to me, [having] bought that painting for $300,000–400,000. . . . How could she buy these paintings for 10 percent of their value?”
All five plaintiffs name Hammer as a party to their suits. Hammer’s lawyers take exception to that. In moving to dismiss De Sole’s suit, they note that it “does not allege that Mr. Hammer knew that any painting sold by Knoedler was counterfeit. . . . or that he knew or should have known that the allegedly forged paintings had been obtained from defendant Glafira Rosales, or that he even had heard of Ms. Rosales.”
One source close to the story thinks Hammer took $10–20 million as his share from the sale of the paintings. Whether he knew about Rosales or not, shouldn’t he at least give that money back? Howard asks. And perhaps kick in, from his personal fortune, the rest of what those buyers paid? “If nothing else, if he’s an innocent, return the money!” declares Howard.