The court case against Knoedler and its director Ann Freedman is turning into a game of gotcha in the press. Patricia Cohen has one item that will undoubtedly embarrass everyone involved but it is a reminder of the heuristics involved in any authentication where small details can be easily overlooked in broader processes:
Now, newly released documents in a continuing civil case show that at least one of the works bought in 2000 by Ms. Freedman herself contained a prominent clue that something was awry. The artist’s signature was spelled incorrectly: Pollok instead of Pollock. […]
The “Pollok,” a 12-inch-by-18 inch drip painting in Pollock’s classic style, was dated 1949. One of 40 works supplied by Ms. Rosales to Knoedler, it was sold directly to the Freedmans for $280,000 in 2000, according to gallery records.
Luke Nikas, a lawyer for Ms. Freedman, said in an email that a conservator had concluded the work was genuine. “It is absurd to believe that Ms. Freedman would have paid nearly $300,000 for the work, asked a world-renowned expert to examine the work, hung the work openly in her apartment for over a decade,” he wrote, “if she knew the work was a forgery or if she purchased the work to keep it hidden from critical eyes.” The Freedmans bought two other Rosales works, one attributed to Motherwell for $20,000 in August 2000, and another attributed to Rothko in April 1997 for $160,000 (paid for through a trade), Knoedler records show. Ms. Freedman also owned a share of another Rosales painting, one where Pollock’s name was spelled correctly.
Note to Forgers: Don’t Forget the Spell Check (NYTimes.com)