Ann Freedman’s lawyer filed a defamation suit yesterday against dealer Marco Grassi for his comments in New York Magazine questioning whether Freedman had done due diligence on the origins of the works she sold. The complaint, posted below, makes interesting reading for it offers a detailed version of Freedman’s case.
Ann Freedman has filed a defamation suit against old master dealer Marco Grassi who was quoted in New York Magazine doubting whether the former Knoedler dealer had done any due diligence on the works she bought from Glafira Rosales. The suit will necessarily dwell on the definition of proper due diligence in an art transaction. Freedman’s suit claims the dealer received informal authentications. Whether this fits the definition of due diligence will likely become a pivotal fact of the case:
Presenting the case that she did due diligence in researching a collection of works that had never before been seen, Ms. Freedman in the lawsuit lists some 20 experts she says told her they were real, including curators from the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. […]
According to the suit, she showed the paintings to a host of modern-art experts, and hired E.A. Carmean Jr., the former head of 20th-century art at the National Gallery of Art, to undertake a multiyear research project on a deceased art adviser who had purportedly played a role in their original sale.
“I believed, along with many, many other people, they were the real McCoy,” Mr. Carmean said.
The fact that they all turned out to be fake “does affect me,” he said. “I simply won’t offer an opinion as to whether something’s authentic again in the future. That’s done.”
In many cases, the opinions that Ms. Freedman gathered were informal, rather than official authentications. A curator at the National Gallery called two works “beautiful,” and a Guggenheim curator borrowed one for an exhibition, according to the suit.
Gallery President Files Defamation Suit (Wall Street Journal)
The Art Newspaper reports on the US Attorney’s request in front of the judge hearing five civil cases stemming from the Glafira Rosales’s works to have the civil cases not hear testimony before December 13th. The request raises further expectations that Rosales is cooperating with US attorneys and helping them make a case against others:
The US Attorney requested a stay in the case because of concerns for the integrity of “a pending criminal prosecution that has substantial overlap with the witnesses and conduct at issue in the Civil Cases”. The civil lawsuits brought by collectors allege that Knoedler and Freedman sold them fake Abstract Expressionist works that Rosales brought to Knoedler.
Because of the overlapping allegations in the civil and criminal proceedings, the government says that if the civil cases continue there is a “significant risk” that the criminal process would be undermined.
The government points to the risk of “premature exposure of witnesses who may be cooperating with the Government [and] providing potential criminal defendants with a preview of witness testimony at an eventual criminal trial during the Civil Cases.”
It also cites “the possibility that certain witnesses called to testify or to be deposed in the Civil Cases would invoke their Fifth Amendment rights [against self-incrimination] while the criminal prosecution is pending”.
US Attorney’s office hints at more criminal charges in Knoedler case (The Art Newspaper)
Ann Freedman worked with New York Magazine’s James Panero to lay out the case for her innocence in the Glafira Rosales forgery case. In laying out her defense, she also points out that her goal—besides making a lot of money—was to ““I felt that I was going to create a legacy for Knoedler with these newly discovered paintings, a treasure trove of paintings to bring out into the world,” she said.
Speaking with Daily Intelligencer last month, Freedman listed some markers that led her to believe that the paintings were genuine. “They were very credible in so many respects,” says Freedman. “I had the best conservation studio examine them. One of the Rothkos had a Sgroi stretcher. He made the stretchers for Rothko. They clearly had the right materials. I got a consensus. Some of the paintings were featured on museum walls,” she continued. “The Rothko went to the Beyeler [Foundation], and the Newman went to Guggenheim Bilbao for the tenth anniversary exhibition. The most knowledgeable in the art establishment gave me no reason to doubt the paintings.”
Experts seem to have been convinced, by and large, that the individualistic quality of the Abstract Expressionist paintings Rosales obtained could only have been achieved by the artists themselves. “The fact is that the entire Eastern establishment believed in them. I saw the paintings,” said Stephen Polcari, a scholar of Abstract Expressionism and author of Abstract Expressionism and the Modern Experience. “And they were very good. You wouldn’t think twice about them for a second. Ann did everything she could possibly do.”