IFAR Journal

Volume 17, No. 2 & 3


20/20 Hindsight: Lessons from the Knoedler/Rosales Affair — An IFAR Evening — July 12, 2016
— Patricia Cohen, John Cahill, Sharon Flescher, James Martin, Adam Sheffer, Robert Storr
The edited and illustrated proceedings and Q&A of a July 2016 IFAR Evening discussing the lessons and repercussions from the forgery scandal that led to the downfall of the long established Knoedler Gallery in New York, including details about the De Sole v. Knoedler trial and the ongoing criminal investigation. Moderated by New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen, the speakers were John Cahill, an attorney who represented several collectors who acquired the fakes; Dr. Sharon Flescher, IFAR’s Executive Director, who testified as a fact witness at the De Sole v. Knoedler trial; James Martin, the conservation scientist whose technical examination of a number of the works in question helped uncover the forgery scandal; Adam Sheffer, the president of the Art Dealers Association of America; and Robert Storr, professor and the former dean of the Yale School of Art.

— Patricia Cohen
The author, the New York Times reporter who broke the Knoedler/Rosales story and covered it for years, introduces the other speakers/authors and discusses how, in retrospect, the forgery scandal could only have happened with the cooperation – witting or unwitting – of many different people.

An Overview
— John Cahill

The author provides an overview of the legal case, including the various players involved; the false provenances provided by the Knoedler Gallery; the conservation scientist’s report that revealed the forgeries; the legal claims of the various plaintiffs; the defense arguments; and lessons going forward for art buyers and sellers.

IFAR's 2003 Report
— Sharon Flescher

The author, IFAR’s Executive Director, who testified as a fact witness at the Knoedler Gallery trial, discusses the 2003 Authentication Research Service report that IFAR wrote about one of the purported Jackson Pollock paintings purchased from the Knoedler Gallery that expressed concerns about the painting’s style, materials, and dubious and unverifiable provenance, which led IFAR to conclude that it could not accept the work as a Pollock.

Technical Examination of the Paintings
— James Martin

The author, a conservation scientist, was the scientific expert in more than eight Knoedler-related lawsuits and the government’s expert in the ongoing criminal investigation of the forgery scandal. He discusses the results of his examination of more than two dozen works, most sold by the Knoedler Gallery, and some of the historically inaccurate materials that led him to conclude that the works were deliberate fakes. 

The Art Dealers Association of America
— Adam Sheffer

The author, the President of the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), discusses the anomalous nature of the Knoedler Gallery scandal, which he believes is not representative of the ethical practices of most art dealers in the field, and steps that the ADAA has taken in response to the scandal.

Some Reflections on Authenticity
— Robert Storr

The author, a member of IFAR’s Art Advisory Council, a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and Professor of Painting at the Yale School of Art, where he was formerly the dean, articulates the idea that neither the buyers nor the sellers were blameless in the Knoedler Gallery scandal, and that by emphasizing the economic transactions and fallout, attention has been deflected from the greater tragedy – namely, that such forgery scandals inspire cynicism in a public already dismissive of modern and contemporary art.

The Tangled Case of Picasso’s Head of a Young Woman (1906) – The Tension Between Cultural Heritage Laws and Private Property
— Rafael Mateu de Ros

The author, an attorney in Madrid, represents the owner of a Picasso painting that the Spanish government had ordered seized by French customs in July 2015, while moored off the coast of Corsica, and is now seeking to declare a Spanish national treasure. The painting has triggered legal battles in both France and Spain. The author discusses Spanish national law pertaining to this case, including the 1985 Law on Spanish Historical Heritage, and whether the significance of the Picasso painting to Spanish cultural heritage and the ownership ties to Spain are sufficient to justify the government’s action.

Will Third Visit to Ninth Circuit Be Déjà Vu All Over Again for Norton Simon Museum?
— Thomas R. Kline

In an update on a case covered extensively in the IFAR Journal, the author, an art and cultural property attorney, discusses the recent dismissal of a Holocaust art recovery lawsuit by a California district court. The claim by an heir of Jacques Goudstikker against the Norton Simon Museum to recover two paintings by Lucas Cranach will return to the Ninth Circuit on appeal for a third time.

News & Updates: Avowals and Disavowals: When Can an Artist Say, “It’s Not Mine!”?
— Sinclaire Devereux Marber and Sharon Flescher

A discussion of three different and superficially unrelated cases involving contemporary artists – Cady Noland, Peter Doig, and Lucien Freud – who disavowed works attributed to them.

News & Updates: Switzerland Gets Tough on Customs Violators
— Jennifer A. Morris and Sharon Flescher

An analysis of recent amendments to the Swiss Customs Ordinance by the Swiss Federal Council in order to create greater transparency in the Swiss freeport system, and, presumably, reduce art-related criminal activity. The revised law requires full disclosure about the source, type, and value of goods entering and exiting freeports and imposes strict time limits on item storage.

News & Updates: Fire Destroys Paintings in Cuzco Church Inventoried by IFAR in 1983
— Frederic J. Truslow

The author, a consultant for IFAR’s Cuzco Database and a retired attorney for the government of Peru, reports on a September 2016 fire in the 17th-century church of Saint Sebastián in Cuzco, Peru, which was inventoried by IFAR in 1983 and 1984 as part of a larger initiative to inventory more than 2,000 at-risk artworks in Cuzco and surrounding areas.

News & Updates: Two Bills Affecting Restitution Claims Move Forward in Congress: Full Senate to Vote on Both “Immunity Clarification Act” and HEAR Act”
— Nicholas Dietz and Sharon Flescher

This newsstory discusses the recent passage by the Senate Judiciary Committee of two bills affecting restitution claims for Holocaust-era looted art. The first bill, the Foreign Cultural Exchange jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act, amends the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) in order to clarify a discrepancy between it and the Immunity from Judicial Seizure Statute. The second bill, The Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act (“HEAR Act”), would create a new uniform federal statute of limitations period of six years for claims of Nazi-era misappropriation. Both bills need to be voted on by the full Senate for passage into law.

News & Updates: Tough New York Ivory Law Put to the Test
— Nicholas Dietz

A discussion of a recent criminal case, New York v. Morano, in which New York State’s 2014 expanded restrictions on the sale of ivory was applied.

News & Updates: Kapoor Redux
— Nicholas Dietz

In a follow-up to a case reported on previously in IFAR Journal concerning indictments in the U.S. and India against art dealer Subhash Kapoor on charges of art looting, the author reports on the 2016 repatriation of two works to India by the National Gallery of Australia. The museum previously returned a work to India in 2014 and is still conducting a review of eight additional objects it purchased from Kapoor.

Stolen Art

Stolen items include Edward Burne-Jones’ Hope in Gaol, stolen in London in June 2016; Lyonel Feininger’s Bridge in Paris, stolen from a New York gallery in July 2016; four Francis Bacon portraits stolen in Madrid in July 2015.

Missing Art

Missing items include five works by Matthew “Mat” Collishaw lost in transit between Switzerland and the U.K. in March 2016, including Suicide Suite and UV Garden – Fairy Offering Flowers to Iris.

Recovered Art

Recovered items include two paintings stolen from the Scheringa Museum of Realist Art in The Netherlands in May 2009: Tamara de Lempicka's The Female Musician and Salvador Dali's Adolescence; two paintings stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in December 2002: Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen and View of the Sea at Scheveningen.