A Clash of the Experts in Pollock and Rothko Legal Dispute

Posted on August 6, 2012


The authenticity of three paintings attributed to Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko is the center of legal dispute involving the Knoedler gallery on the Upper East side. The cases have been filed in the federal court in Manhattan alleging that the now-defunct Knoedler gallery defrauded art buyers and tricked them into buying forgeries.

Disputes in the art market regarding authenticity are increasingly being resolved by the courts. Judges and juries are tasked with evaluating whether masterpieces such as these are truly “authentic.” In the Knoedler cases, the parties are assembling artistic and forensic experts to dispute the matter.

In cases such as these, the parties will usually request a jury to be the final arbiter of whether a work of art is properly attributed or a forgery. The jury hears the testimony of the experts put on by both sides and makes their best guess as to which side has the better evidence. Given that experts at trial in all fields, art disputes included, tend to charge upwards of $2,000 a day for their testimony, it often becomes a battle of who has more money at their disposal to hire more and better experts.

Read more about the dispute at the New York Times: Ruling on Artistic Authenticity: The Market vs. the Law.

Or check out, “The Expert Versus the Object: Judging Fakes and False Attributions in the Visual Arts,” edited by Ronald Spencer.