Gallerist Gordon VeneKlasen got a little over-enthusiastic after the case against Peter Doig got thrown out yesterday. His reaction in support of his artist was understandable, though. He was quoted by Artnet News saying, “It is our hope that this verdict will have at least one good outcome—that artists maintain the unfettered right to authenticate their own work.”
Hope doesn’t hold much weight in the way the law works. This is something art lawyer Donn Zaretsky pointed out on his site:
what happened here is that the court treated the artist just as any third-party authenticator: the ruling was that he happened to be right about the facts in this instance (i.e., the painting was by Doige not Doig). But if he had been mistaken about that — if he misremembered, or the status of the work was more ambiguous (say Doig had painted it while a teenager but he didn’t regard it as a legitimate work) — the outcome could have been different. So I don’t think artists should be especially heartened by the decision.
BREAKING: Doig Wins (UPDATED) (The Art Law Blog)