Can't Tell the Forgeries Without a Program


MANHATTAN (CN) - The Knoedler Gallery faces two more federal lawsuits accusing it of selling forged modern masters: a $3 million claim for a bogus Clyfford Styll and a $1.5 demand for a phony Rothko and a de Kooning.
     The Manny Silverman Gallery et al. claim they paid $1.05 million on 2000 for a bogus Clyfford Styll painting, "Untitled 1947."
     In the other case, Martin L. Cohen et al. claim they paid $275,000 for the bogus de Kooning, "Untitled (Woman) 1971," and $325,000 for the fake Rothko, "Untitled 1959."
     Also named as defendants in both lawsuits are Ann Freedman, Glafira Rosales, Jose Carlos Bergantinos and Michael Hammer. Both describe defendant Hammer as the Knoedler Gallery's owner, Freedman as its president, and Rosales and Bergantinos as their co-conspirators.
     The Silverman Gallery claims the defendants "still have failed to return more than $60 million in ill-gotten gains."
     In his lawsuit, Cohen claims that "Within weeks of her appointment as the sole director of Knoedler in 1994, Freedman and the defendants embarked on their racketeering scheme, selling forged works of art from several disreputable or other unknown sources to those who work in the art world at massive profits. The scheme enabled Knoedler to turn a profit after years of lackluster sales."
     Both lengthy complaints contain long lists of the allegedly phony works the defendants sold, and the prices they got for them.
     Both seek treble damages.
     Silverman is represented by Gregory Clarick with Clarick, Gueron & Reisbaum; Cohen by John Cahill with Cahill Partners.
     Several similar lawsuits are pending.