Picasso once said: “In my case a picture is the sum of destructions.” For Ann Freedman, leaving court in Manhattan today, the sum of destructions is dozens of fake master artworks from the ‘Rosales Collection’ — that she sold from 1994-2008, with wreckage for collectors in the tens of millions of dollars.
The trial underway this week concerns a fake Rothko, Untitled, sold by Freedman in 2004, while president of Knoedler & Company, to Domenico De Sole, Chairman of Sotheby’s (bottom photo) for $8.4 million. The plaintiff is seeking $25 million in damages.
The job of the jury in this case — to work through reams of evidence and deceptions and deliver justice — will be especially daunting. After the first day of testimony, one of the jurors, claiming to have had a nervous breakdown, left the the trial.
The outcome of the trial will hinge on whether the defense can prove Freedman acted unwittingly, or the plaintiff can show that she knew the work (Rothko in this case) was fake.
At least five other plaintiff’s law suits, brought by parties that bought fake paintings from the gallery, have been settled by Ms. Freedman & Knoedler.