Judge Rules Doig Painting as Imposter
CHICAGO.- A federal judge in Chicago has given his verdict this week on artist Peter Doig’s lengthy trial. The case concerned the authenticity of a painting. Judge Gary Feinerman said that Doig was ‘correct' when he insisted that he didn't paint a landscape, that had been valued at more than $10 million.
The official statement from Doig’s attorney: "I have rarely seen such a flagrant example of unethical conduct in the US courts nor a case that inflicted such needless burdens on a defendant. Artists should be grateful to Doig for having the ethical and financial fortitude to fight tirelessly to ensure that justice prevailed in today's verdict." Matthew S. Dontzin lawyer for Peter Doig and Michael Werner Gallery.
The artwork was withdrawn from auction at the insistence of the artist, who denied that it was one of his works. Judge Feinerman commented as he began summing up his reasoning, in the case that began in 2013.
The formal announcement of the verdict was revealed Tuesday 23 August 2016 with the entire case for Robert Fletcher, the painting’s owner hinging on the claim that Scottish-born/Canadian artist Doig painted it. This was clearly not the case.
Mr. Feinerman stated that evidence showed that it was a case of mistaken identity and that a different Peter Doige, who spelled his last name with an 'e,’ had created the artwork. The lawsuit was filed in Chicago because one auctioneer who had expressed interest in selling the painting was based in the windy city.
Fletcher, a retired prison guard and parole officer from Canada, filed a lawsuit in U.S. court for millions in damages after the painting's projected sale price tanked following Doig's disowning it.
Fletcher maintained that the painting of a desert landscape, which he paid $100 for in the 1970s, was by Doig. He claimed he bought it while Doig was serving prison time in Canada's Thunder Bay Correctional Center.
Doig clearly never served time in any jail. Feinerman, who spoke as the work at the center of the case sat on a courtroom easel, pointed to high school yearbook photos and said that it was proof enough that Doig was in a Toronto high school when Fletcher said he was painting in a prison where he worked. "Peter Doig could not have been the author of the work," the judge said.
Most authenticity disputes arise after an artist dies. In this case, the artist is still living and flatly denies that the work is his. This is a dispute that should have never come to trial. It has created a frightening precedence in the art world, where the principle is widely accepted that artists' have final word on whether their work is authentic.