As we briefly alluded to in Friday's story about DUMBO gallery Bose Pacia's imminent closing, it was the second gallery casualty of the week after 165-year-old Upper East Side gallery Knoedler & Company abruptly shut down on Wednesday. While Bose Pacia's reasons for closing are typical, the Knoedler shuttering remained a mystery until, shortly thereafter, a London-based hedge-fund executive filed a lawsuit against the gallery for selling him a forged Jackson Pollock painting for $17 million in 2007.
Pierre Lagrange, co-founder of hedge fund GLG Partners Inc., bought what he believed to be Jackson Pollock's "Untitled 1950" from Knoedler & Co. in November of 2007. But, Bloomberg reports, when he attempted to send the painting to auction last year, with both Sotheby's and Christie's, the auctioneers refused to put the piece on the auction block due to "concerns about its authenticity."
Lagrange is also suing Ann Freedman, former director of Knoedler & Co., who left the gallery in 2009 and now runs FreedmanArt.
Kathleen Blomquist, a spokesperson for the shuttered gallery, told Bloomberg, "The allegations of misrepresentation are completely baseless." Likewise, a message on the Knoedler & Co. website asserts that its closure "was a business decision made after careful consideration over the course of an extended period of time." No mention is made of the lawsuit. But the complaint filed on December 1st in a Manhattan federal court claims that Knoedler shuttered one day after receiving a report from Lagrange about the purported Pollock's inauthenticity.
Lagrange, meanwhile, wants at least $15.3 million from the gallery, accounting for the $17 million he paid minus commissions that went to two intermediaries. Of course, Lagrange might've known the piece was a fake, as it wasn't included in Pollock's Catalogue Raisonne, the directory of every authenticated work by the Ab Ex master.