When I decided to write about the Knoedler art forgery trial there were so many angles and players to choose just one. So an overview of the entire affair is explained.
The Rothko Forgery Trial
This trial is for real and it’s really a shame because it all started out with the complaint of The head of Sotheby’s, Domenico De Sole and his wife Eleanore. This lovely lady was enjoyed Art Basel when she saw a news item which caused her worry. They bought a (fake) Mark Rothko for $8.3 million from Knoedler Gallery in 2004. As civilian I shudder to think what Mr. & Mrs. De Sole felt. They rightfully sued and that trial took place recently in New York’s US District Court. They ended up settling with Knoedler out of court.
The Masterminds (?) Come To America
I’d like to tell you that it all ended there. But then it would be … well as interesting as a Rothko. (Did I say that out loud?) But this week the Knoedler story continues as the “masterminds” were extradited from Spain to stand trial.
Knoedler As Witness To The Growth of American art
I can’t help but feel for Knoedler Gallery: with it’s 165 year pedigree and the seller of artworks to top shelf collectors. My love of art and my need for “pretty”, makes this kind of behavior so distasteful, so unnecessary. So this venerable institution of such renown goes to pieces in such an inglorious way just because of the greed of a few people. Indeed one of the sadder issues to be brought out at trial was that Knoedler Gallery hadn’t been profitable other than the forged paintings.
The Crime of Beauty & Stealing One’s Soul
It’s a financial crime, no doubt: with freeports and forged provenance and the Chinese man in Queens who painted the Rothko purchased by Mr. & Mrs. De Sole. But it seems so different than the mortgage bankers lending to people without documentation and no way of repaying the loan. I’m sure it’s wrong to separate art from banking: crime is crime; duplicitous actions in both cases.
Perhaps it’s the thought of the forged artists who spent their lives devoted to the beauty their eye took in. These artists, like musicians and writers are no longer held as hero’s. I get it. Everyone wants to “be like Mike” (even me), but I’d give my ear to paint like Fredrick Church of The Hudson River School. Oh did I say ear…. my bad, that’s sooo derivative.
My father used to say, “buy what you can afford and only if it’s pretty”. Beauty is so much more important than money isn’t it? Can you buy a sunset? No, but you can buy a home with a view. Can you buy the color Caribbean Blue? Maybe you can I just don’t have a clue. But for me, beauty isn’t for sale if that beauty is true. Maybe it’s a matter of perspective: Wall Street crooks I dislike on principle; but art crooks I hate because they destroy beauty with their greed. So, one part of this tale is done. Something tells me there’s more blood to be shed. Time will tell.
Truth is Stranger Than Forgery
In the end, the tale of the Rothko’s has become sadly typical. So to end this blog on a positive tip, I offer a tale so crazy & ridic, “Police Arrest Brothers Who Sold a Fake Goya..and Were Paid with Fake Cash”.
“Truth is Stranger than Fiction, I Drive Through There Every Night”
– Mick Jagger,, “Undercover of the Night”
Well, that’s it for me. Tell me what you think – has this ever happened to ..thee?