At the center of the Brett Whiteley art forgery case in Australia is the disgraced dealer Peter Gant. Gant still staunchly defends his innocence in the case of two Lavender Bay paintings that are said to have been created by Mohammad Siddique. Gant has given up on his life’s work and reputation but hopes the potential trial to resolve the charges will exonerate him and Siddique:
“What friends?” Gant laughs bitterly, showing his stained teeth. “I’m persona non grata. My best friends are my wife and my children.” […]
Gant tells me he has been subjected to malicious campaigns, errant reporting and “fucking witch trials” in the past. He says people wilfully misconstrue him, and that “rich bastards have made up their minds about me”.
He concedes that his reputation is unsalvageable now, and speaks fondly of people who he admits would probably “pretend not to know me if you asked them”.
Gant seems simultaneously proud and disappointed in his status as a pariah – but he will not allow contrition to soften his position. He insists that he has done nothing wrong, other than to associate with dilettantes. Gant has rallied in the trench, but there are a lot of forces advancing on his position.
We’ve spoken now for four hours and Gant has lost track of time. He’s startled when he looks at his watch – he’s due back in Geelong in an hour for a family event. He needs to get to the train station, and quickly. “I hate Melbourne now,” he says. “No one knows me in Geelong.”
He takes a final swig of his wine before he departs. “I don’t give a flying fuck if it goes to trial or not. If it goes to trial at least we can prove authenticity – otherwise there’s doubt.”
Whiteley or wrongly: alleged con man opens up on art fraud charges (The Saturday Paper)