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Art Critic Loses Libel Suit Against New Yorker

MANHATTAN (CN) - The Second Circuit threw turpentine Tuesday on claims that The New Yorker defamed a Canadian art authenticator by implicating him in fraud.

Titled "The Mark of a Masterpiece: The man who keeps finding famous fingerprints on uncelebrated works of art," the article ran in the July 5, 2010, issue of the New Yorker.

It discusses Peter Paul Biro's use of forensics and fingerprints to authenticate works of art in a connoisseur's world, how Biro was gaining respect in the art community, and how one quoted source "began to wonder if he was seeing something virtually unheard of: forged fingerprints."

Biro sued publisher Conde Nast and writer David Grann a year later, claiming that the "false and defamatory screed" had damaged him to the tune of $2 million.

Later that year, Biro amended his claims to include outlets like Gawker and Business Insider that publicized the original article.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken found that Grann's journalistic work "falls short of the 'hatchet job' that Biro's counsel described at oral argument," however, so Biro amended the suit a third time.

Judge Oetken ruled against Biro again in 2013, and dismissed claims against the remaining media defendants last year.

Citing Biro's failure to prove actual malice on the part of the media, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit affirmed Tuesday.

Specifically, "Grann's decision to focus on Biro's controversial authentications, while ignoring both his other authentications and his satisfied clients, does not plausibly suggest that Grann "entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication," Judge Raymond Lohier wrote for the federal appeals court.

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