From our friends at Galleristny.com
Michael Schnayerson asks the pertinent question in Vanity Fair now that Glafira Rosales has not implicated Ann Freedman or the Knoedler Gallery itself in the forgeries both sold. Pierre LaGrange has reached a settlement:
The other buyers, among them Domenico De Sole, chairman of Tom Ford International, and John D. Howard, C.E.O. of Irving Place Capital, are not so fortunate, at least not yet. Knoedler hasn’t settled with them. Now that Rosales has admitted her guilt, the buyers may have a harder time arguing for restitution from Knoedler and Freedman, who were, arguably, fellow victims. Which means the buyers may turn their lonely eyes to . . . Michael Hammer.
Hammer, grandson of billionaire industrialist Armand Hammer, is the chairman of the Armand Hammer Foundation, which holds a controlling interest in Knoedler. John Howard says he’ll keep on with his suit “to the death” and adds: “Hammer talked with Ann every day. He knew everything that was going on. She sold a painting for $4 million to me, [having] bought that painting for $300,000–400,000. . . . How could she buy these paintings for 10 percent of their value?”
All five plaintiffs name Hammer as a party to their suits. Hammer’s lawyers take exception to that. In moving to dismiss De Sole’s suit, they note that it “does not allege that Mr. Hammer knew that any painting sold by Knoedler was counterfeit. . . . or that he knew or should have known that the allegedly forged paintings had been obtained from defendant Glafira Rosales, or that he even had heard of Ms. Rosales.”
One source close to the story thinks Hammer took $10–20 million as his share from the sale of the paintings. Whether he knew about Rosales or not, shouldn’t he at least give that money back? Howard asks. And perhaps kick in, from his personal fortune, the rest of what those buyers paid? “If nothing else, if he’s an innocent, return the money!” declares Howard.
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)