Patricia Cohen has a great story in the New York Times about the mess in the Modigliani market caused by two competing catalogues raisonné that have been underway for a while from Marc Restellini and Christian Parisot. But what’s equally interesting is the ways that each man has been using his scholarly project as the basis for a money-making venture that is not art dealing:
Mr. Restellini abandoned plans to create a catalogue raisonné of Modigliani’s drawings, saying he had received death threats from owners unhappy with his conclusions. His publisher, the Wildenstein Institute, a research center on art in Paris, says it still plans to release a catalogue raisonné of the paintings, but no date has been set, and several experts doubt it will ever appear.
Other projects have certainly been competing for Mr. Restellini’s attention. In 2007, he founded a private museum, Pinacothèque de Paris, that has astounded skeptics by drawing hundreds of thousands of people with major exhibitions. Most recently, he was in Singapore, organizing a preview of the $24 million branch of his Pinacothèque that he said will open there next January.
Planned for the inaugural exhibition is a blockbuster show on Modigliani.
Parisot, on the other hand, will have a big day in court this week:
Before she died in 1984, Modigliani’s daughter, Jeanne, gave Mr. Parisot her father’s archives and the right to authorize reproductions.
In the years that followed, Mr. Parisot built on his advantage, founding the Modigliani Institute Legal Archives, consulting for the Italian government on cultural matters, and organizing exhibitions in state museums — despite mounting controversies.
But as early as 2002, Hébuterne’s great-nephew had accused Mr. Parisot of forging Hébuterne’s drawings. In 2008 a Paris court fined Mr. Parisot and sentenced him to two years in jail for that, although after an appeal he was acquitted.
Then in 2010, the Italian police raided a Modigliani show that Mr. Parisot had organized at the Archaeological Museum in Palestrina. Twenty-two of the works confiscated, the police said, were fakes. After a two-year investigation, police charged Mr. Parisot with receiving counterfeit goods and falsely authenticating them. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Thursday in Rome.
A Modigliani? Who Says So? (NYTimes)