Ann Freedman The End Or The Beginning For Knoedler’s Disgraced Director

A courtroom sketch of Ann Freedman Elizabeth Williams

Ann Freedman has settled her final lawsuit in what has been New York’s biggest art scandal. The chapter has closed with the former director of the now shuttered Knoedler gallery ( New York’s oldest) paying off up to ten lawsuits filed against her, arising from a $70m forgery ring, that closed the highly regarded 165-year-old institution in 2011. 

Freedman was thankful she can now focus on her own art gallery FreedmanArt

This final lawsuit was initiated by California collectors Frances Hamilton White and her former-husband, who sued Ms.Freedman personally for advising them to purchase a bogus painting thought to be by the American Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, for $3.1m in 2000. The painting was part of a horde of fakes executed by a Chinese immigrant artist, Pei-Shen Qian, in his home in Queens. Qian later fled to China and is thought to be in Shanghai where there is no extradition treaty in place.

Forged Knoedler Jackson Pollock Painting
Forged Knoedler Jackson Pollock Painting

The art fraudster Glafira Rosales, a small time crook from Long Island, was central to the Knoedler art scam involving over 40 paintings sold over a 20 year period. She has now been ordered to Pay $81 million in compensation to the victims of the scandal. Rosales’ lover, Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz, and his brother, Jesus Angel, are believed to be residing in their native Spain and have avoided attempts to extradite them to the US. Noting these indictments, Nikas said that “neither the government nor these individuals ever accused Ann of wrongdoing”.

The Long Island art dealer was surprisingly the only person detained in the case. The former Director of Knoedler Ann Freedman successfully avoided any punishment or responsibility for the biggest art fraud in history. Ms. Freedman marketed and sold the fraudulent works of art to customers who trusted the reputation of New Yorks oldest art gallery, where she was employed. Freedman has always denied any part in the plot to defraud, even though the sale of the fake works of art accounted for the lion’s share of the profits made at the gallery, over a ten year period. No alarm bells ringing?

The plaintiffs in many of the lawsuits sued Knoedler and its holding company 8-31 Holdings alleging that Knoedler and Freedman knew or should have known that the works were fake, an allegation the defendants denied. The terms of this particular settlement were filed in Manhattan federal court on 22 August 2017, the figures were not disclosed.

Freedman’s lawyer Luke Nikas, of the firm Boies Schiller Flexner, stated that all the cases had been “resolved amicably” and  Freedman was thankful she can now focus on her own art gallery. FreedmanArt was opened on Manhattan’s posh Upper East Side in 2011. After such a downfall in an unforgiving art world will Freedman ever be trusted again? Read More


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