Warhol Foundation

Fellow appraiser Pam Mayo sent me a post from ArtInfo with more news of the strong arm tactics taken by the Warhol Foundation in authentication issues.  I just posted last week on a change in opinion for the Brillo boxes.  Now the London owner of a 1964 Warhol self portrait (see image) deemed to be not authentic is dropping a lawsuit against the Foundation as he can no longer afford the expense as Foundation lawyers churned documents and motions. I had early posted on this litigation, but was not expecting this outcome, not even getting to court.

The Warhol Foundation is said to be worth $309 million (from 2008 tax records) and hired the prominent litigator David Boies.  With that sort of legal power, and numerous motions, the plaintiffs were not able to keep up and decided to drop the case. Given the financial resources the Foundation has, it now seems well insulated from any future protracted legal battles as potential plaintiffs will be scared off due to the cost of litigation.

The ArtInfo article is an excellent review of what has happened along with the strong armed legal tactics to out maneuver the pending law suits.  It is well worth reading.

ArtInfo reports

Simon says he does not have funds to hire additional counsel and is unable to enlist other firms willing to work on contingency.

Simon and others had hoped that the lawsuit would uncover the committee’s secretive deliberations and open the door to claims that could result in reassessment of numerous rejected works, potentially resulting in many millions of dollars worth of art being reinstated in the Warhol canon. The stakes are extremely high. The auction record for a Warhol is the $71.7 million paid for his 1963 "Green Car Crash" silkscreen canvas at Christie's in May 2007.

Simon's complaint further alleged that the Warhol Foundation and its authentication board engaged in an illegal conspiracy to control the Warhol market by limiting the number of approved Warhols, and thereby increasing the rarity and value of the hundreds of works owned and sold by the foundation. They sought damages and an injunction against the Warhol Foundation, the authentication board, the Warhol estate, and executor Vincent Fremont — the sales representative for the foundation’s paintings — alleging antitrust violations, collusion, and fraud.

That broad allegation would have been difficult to prove, but Simon has presented compelling evidence to support the more limited claim that his Warhol should be deemed authentic. Last year Redniss revealed that Warhol himself deemed the self-portrait an autograph work. An identical red silkscreen self-portrait from the same series was signed by Warhol in 1969 and dedicated to his Swiss dealer Bruno Bischofberger, who owned it at the time. The painting not only was included in the 1970 catalogue raisonnĂ© of Warhol’s paintings and works on paper from 1960 to 1967, compiled by art historian Rainer Crone in collaboration with the artist — it was reproduced in color on the dust jacket.

Nevertheless, the authentication board twice rejected that painting, in 2003 and 2005. Simon's work from the same series was rejected in 2003 and again in 2004 when he re-submitted it with additional supporting material. T
To read the full article, click HERE.

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