In a surprise turn of events, the old-news case of the former prison-guard/parole officer who thinks he owns a Peter Doig painting has gotten a new lease on life when a Federal judge scheduled the case for trial next month in Illinois.
The most interesting parts of Graham Bowley’s story in the New York Times come way at the bottom. The case law on art authenticity is fairly clear that it is not the court’s place to determine authorship. And, even if the case does conclude that, there is no mechanism to force to art market to apply that judgment to the work’s valuation.
Before you even get there, read Doig’s lawyers explanation of what might be going on here:
Mr. Doig and his lawyers say they have identified the real artist, a man named Peter Edward Doige. He died in 2012, but his sister said he had attended Lakehead University, served time in Thunder Bay and painted.
“I believe that Mr. Fletcher is mistaken and that he actually met my brother, Peter, who I believe did this painting,” the sister, Marilyn Doige Bovard, said in a court declaration. She said the work’s desert scene appeared to show the area in Arizona where her mother moved after a divorce and where her brother spent some time. She recognized, she said, the saguaro cactus in the painting.
The prison’s former art teacher recognized a photograph of Ms. Bovard’s brother as a man who had been in his class and said he had watched him paint the painting, according to the teacher’s affidavit.
Peter Doig Says He Didn’t Paint This. Now He Has to Prove It. (The New York Times)