For years the art world has been rivited by the questions surrounding an unearthed cache of Abstract Expressionist paintings and drawings. The works took in a total of $80 million. Then, earlier this month, a federal investigation revealed they had all been faked.
The most prominent figure at the center of this scandal has been Ann Freedman. As the president of Knoedler & Company, she sold forty of the works, totaling $63 million. As news of the forgery broke, I sat down with her for a series of exclusive interviews with New York Magazine. “I am as shocked as everybody, more shocked, as I am the central victim,” she told me.
“They were very credible in so many respects,” says Freedman. “I had the best conservation studio examine them. One of the Rothkos had a Sgroi stretcher. He made the stretchers for Rothko. They clearly had the right materials. I got a consensus. Some of the paintings were featured on museum walls,” she continued. “The Rothko went to the Beyeler [Foundation], and the Newman went to Guggenheim Bilbao for the tenth anniversary exhibition. The most knowledgeable in the art establishment gave me no reason to doubt the paintings.”
Thanks to Judith Dobrzynski of Real Clear Arts and Eileen Kinsella of Art and Auction for adding their color to this piece. My story is available here in full.
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