Knoedler Gallery Rothko Forgery Case Settles With Casino Owner

Another of the mounting lawsuits in the worlds largest art forgery case, centring around the now-defunct Knoedler Gallery in New York has settled out of court. Seven of the 10 lawsuits involving the scandal have now come to an agreement. The Knoedler Gallery was one of the most respected galleries in the world and NY’s longest established.

Fertitta thought there could be a problem with the painting after the forgery scandal came to light in 2013

Billionaire Frank Fertitta III a casino owner has come to an agreement with the former Swiss art expert Oliver Wick over the sale of a $7.2 million Mark Rothko painting that was part of the scandal, that rocked the gallery establishment.

The settlement, dated April 11, was undisclosed. According to the dismissal order, “all claims are voluntarily dismissed with prejudice without costs or fees to any party.”This was the second case involving Fertitta and Knoedler. Last October the gallery’s former president Ann Freedman, also settled their case.

Fertitta purchased the Rothko forgery for $7.2 million in 2008 from the upper-east-side establishment. He flipped it in 2011. The lawsuit, stated, that he first thought there could be a problem with the painting after the forgery scandal came to light in 2013. He subsequently reimbursed the buyer $8.5m for the forged painting.

This was the first case that didn’t actually target the Knoedler Gallery or Director Ann Freedman directly. Fertitta’s case was slightly different as he went after the curator/expert who authenticated the work. The complaint alleged that Wick received $450,000 and falsely confirmed to Fertitta that all do diligence was “perfectly fine.” This included the painting’s ever important provenance. Fertitta also claimed that Wick failed to do his own independent research. This was pure laziness on Wick’s behalf as he clearly trusted that the painting was OK as a result of his relationship with Ann Freedman and the good reputation of the gallery itself.

Mr Wich also tried to broker a painting to a German Museum museum for $18m. He was also told by other curators at the Beyeler foundation to remove a disputed painting by Barnett Newman. Mr. Wick, left the Beyeler to join the Kunsthalle Zurich. A Kunsthalle spokeswoman said his leaving the museum had nothing to do with the lawsuit. It is likely that Wick will never be trusted in an expert related capacity again.


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