Another Knoedler Settlment

The NY Times recently reported on another lawsuit settlement regarding the Knoedler & Company gallery about a fake Rothko and a Swiss art expert.

The NY Times reports
One of the residual lawsuits from the scandal involving the Knoedler & Company gallery has ended with a court settlement between a man who bought a fake Rothko sold by the gallery and a Swiss art expert whom he had accused of aiding in the fraud.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. But David R. Baum, a lawyer for the art expert, Oliver Wick, said his client was pleased with the result and that he had prevailed earlier in a similar case that had been filed by the buyer in Switzerland.

“We won the case in Swiss court, where Wick was cleared of any wrongdoing and we won our legal fees,” Mr. Baum said in a statement. “When the Swiss order was upheld on appeal, the New York case had no future and was destined to be dismissed.”

Both cases were brought by Frank J. Fertitta III, a casino magnate, who paid $7.2 million for the bogus work in 2008. It turned out to be one of dozens that were created in a Queens garage by Pei-Shen Qian, a Chinese immigrant who later fled the country, and then sold through Knoedler, a Manhattan gallery that closed in 2011 just ahead of a flood of lawsuits related to the sales.

The gallery has said it, too, was fooled by the paintings and has not been charged with any criminal conduct. But the art dealer who provided the fakes to Knoedler, Glafira Rosales, has pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the case.

The American lawsuit against Mr. Wick, which was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan in 2014, said that Mr. Wick, a respected curator and historian, had taken part in the fraud through “willful blindness or reckless disregard for the truth.” According to the lawsuit, Mr. Wick offered the painting on behalf of Knoedler to Eykyn Maclean, a private New York gallery that was acting for Mr. Fertitta.

At the time of the sale, Mr. Wick was a curator at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, Switzerland, which had included the fake Rothko in an exhibition. Before the sale Mr. Wick, who was paid a consulting fee by Knoedler, sent an email to the Maclean gallery saying, “I confirm that this work has been submitted to the team, all is perfectly fine.” He added in the email, “For this I stand with my name as a Rothko scholar.”

Mr. Wick’s lawyers countered that he had assumed that the work was legitimate and had never vouched for it personally. In addition, they wrote that he was not a party to the contract of sale but had merely “acted as an intermediary between the representatives of the undisclosed buyer and the undisclosed seller.”

A lawyer for Mr. Fertitta did not respond to a request for comment.
Source: The NY Times

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