Yesterday’s testimony in the de Sole-Knoedler trial focused on a long-term Knoedler gallery employee, Melissa de Meideros. de Meideros handled a variety of tasks there, mostly doing research. However, for two years she served as Ann Freedman’s administrative assistant. In that capacity, she memorialized conversations and meetings. The plaintiff’s attorney put into evidence two memos that showed Rosales first told Freedman the anonymous collector she represented had 7-8 works. In the first memo, there is no mention of a Jackson Pollock in the collection but Freedman asks if the heirs have a Pollock or a Smith.
Two months later, Freedman has a phone call with Rosales who is now in Spain. Many of the works mentioned in the first memo are mentioned again. There’s also now a Pollock mentioned. These two issues, the limited number of works first mentioned from a collection that would eventually “produce” a few dozen works and the way that a Pollock was introduced to the inventory, are likely to be key issues for the plaintiffs.
Eileen Kinsella recounts in Artnet News how Judge Gardephe began to lose patience with de Meideros’s testimony around the subject of her research on Rosales’s shifting story of the collection’s history which started by using Alphonso Ossorio, the painter, but eventually switched to David Herbert:
After De Medeiros repeatedly gave vague answers, including one in which she described an exhibition that Ossorio had organized in Paris and a list of attendees she had uncovered, it was Judge Gardelphe who finally cut to the chase, turning to De Madeiros and saying, “I’m not asking you about attendees at an exhibit organized by Mr. Ossorio.” […]
“Let me say it again,” Judge Gardelphe said pointedly. “My question is do you recall any documentation that David Herbert was advising a collector who lived in Mexico and Switzerland.”
De Madieros said she did not recall any.
Kinsella also recounts the drama plaintiffs created by having the forged Rothko present in the courtroom as Domenico de Sole testified how he asked Freedman for assurances and evidence of the painting’s authenticity. But the surprise of the testimony was captured by M. H. Miller for ArtNews:
De Sole described the experience of going, along with his wife, to Knoedler–for what he claimed was the first and last time–in 2004, looking to buy a work by Sean Scully. He met with Freedman, who said she didn’t have any work by Scully available, but showed him two paintings in her office–one a fake Rothko, and the other a fake Pollock,
If de Sole was looking for a Sean Scully whose work sells for a fraction of Rothko’s, was he upsold by the perceived “opportunity?”
Sparks Fly on Day 3 of the Knoedler Trial (artnet News)
Domenico De Sole, Who Paid $8.3 M. for Fake Rothko, Takes the Stand in Knoedler Trial (ARTnews)