and he's still alive, why should it go to court?
I thought I'd posted about this already but can't find it. Court case article
Testimony in an unusual federal court case will continue on Tuesday as artist Peter Doig attempts to prove that he did not create a 40-year-old painting signed “Pete Doige”.
The Scottish artist denies having painted the landscape scene, apparently completed in 1976, which the painting’s owner insists is a Doig original. Robert Fletcher and art dealer Peter Bartlow filed suit in 2013 after Doig refused to authenticate the painting when the pair tried to sell it. Fletcher and Bartlow are seeking $5m in damages and a declaration from the court that the work is authentic.
Doig testified in Chicago on Monday in the first day of the trial about his artistic process in response to questions from his lawyers, the New York Times reported from the court room. The painting, which depicts a desert landscape and is signed “Pete Doige 1976”, was displayed in court on Monday as its origins were debated, according to the Times.
Fletcher claims he first met Doig at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada, in the mid-1970s. He says the then teenage Doig was later incarcerated at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre, where Fletcher worked as a corrections officer.
Fletcher, who says he was Doig’s parole officer, says he watched Doig paint the desert landscape, which shows cacti and a muddy brown river, in jail before he bought the work for $100. “He was almost bragging and said how good he was getting at [painting],” Fletcher testified at the US district court for northern Illinois on Monday.
He added: “The painting stood out. I fell in love with it.”
He has also told the New York Times he bought the painting to stop the young man going back to selling drugs; he had been incarcerated on an LSD charge.
Years later, a friend noticed the work and suggested that it could have been created by Doig, according to Fletcher’s lawsuit. From there, Fletcher began working with Bartlow, who owns an art gallery in Chicago and is now a co-plaintiff in the case.
The pair say that Doig and his representatives declined to verify the painting’s authenticity and that they stopped the painting’s sale through a Chicago auction house. According to Fletcher, the painting he purchased decades ago for $100 could now be worth more than $10m. Last year, Doig’s 1990 painting of a moonlit white canoe, Swamped, sold for nearly $26m at auction.
His work does bear some resemblance to the “Doige” painting. As Eric Andrew-Gee wrote in the Globe and Mail: “It is by no means a dead ringer for his mature style – more literal, and less accomplished, obviously – but, on the other hand, it’s a hauntingly empty landscape, with a pond in the foreground: a few of the artist’s hallmarks.”
Doig was born in Edinburgh in 1959, and moved with his family to Trinidad in 1962 and then Canada in 1966. He studied art in London from 1979 to 1983, and again in 1989-90. His breakout on to the art scene came when he was awarded the John Moores Prize in 1993 and then shortlisted for the Turner Prize the following year.
He denies he ever attended Lakehead University, according to the New York Times, and says he has never been near Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and has never been incarcerated. He says the plaintiffs have no record of his supposed incarceration. He was 16 or 17 years old in 1976, the year the painting is dated, and says he was living with his parents then in Toronto.
Doig’s lawyers say they have identified a real Peter Doige who created the work and whose records match the trajectory outlined by Fletcher. Doige died in 2012, but his sister Marilyn Doige Bovard is expected to testify during the court case. Bovard has said Doige attended Lakehead and served time at Thunder Bay, according to the New York Times.
Doig says that when he first saw a photograph of the “Pete Doige” painting, he immediately knew it wasn’t his.
“I said, ‘Nice painting,’” he told the New York Times in an interview. “‘Not by me.’”
In court papers, he expanded on this: “I did not begin to paint on canvas until late 1979,” he wrote. “(Before that, I had done some pencil and ink drawings on paper) ... If I had painted that painting when I was 16, I would admit it.”
He added to the Times: “This case is a scam, and I’m being forced to jump through hoops to prove my whereabouts over 40 years ago.”
Experts on art law have noted that the Doig case is unusual because although disputes over the authenticity of famous works are common, such disputes while the artist is still alive are not.
“I’m not confident enough to say there’s no precedent for this, but I’m confident enough to say this is extremely rare,” said Michael Bennett, a research professor at Arizona State University.
Bennett explained that, should the judge side with the plaintiffs, the case could be “potentially disruptive” because “then, effectively, a living artist will be displaced as the final authority on authentication and in that artist’s place will now sit a judge or jury”.
Deborah R Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina school of law, said the case points to how closely the value of a work is connected to the artist’s name.
“This case represents what I think is a very interesting trend in the art wold: so much of the value of art turns on the brand name of the artist and artists really like to control the quality that their names are associated with,” she said.
Judge Gary Feinerman is expected to rule on the case after about a week of testimony.
The only winners will be those that work in the legal profession, as usual.
Makes me wonder, if the person who painted it was incarcerated at the time, then, surely, there would be fingerprints on record which would go a long way to proving if this bloke is, or is not, the author of this work.
It's not even the same spelling of the surname.
I missed that detail. Sounds like someone trying to cash in on a famous name. I would hope that costs will be awarded to the artist if his case stands up, which seems likely.