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A courtroom sketch of a fake Mark Rothko painting bought by Domenico de Sole from Knoedler Gallery—the only Knoedler fraud case to go to trial. Photo: Elizabeth Williams/
A courtroom sketch of a fake Mark Rothko painting bought by Domenico de Sole from Knoedler Gallery—the only Knoedler fraud case to go to trial. Photo: Elizabeth Williams/

Knoedler Settles Suit over Bogus Rothko, Inaugural Future Fair Pledges to Share Profits with Galleries, and More

The tenth and final lawsuit in the Knoedler Gallery forgery scandal has been settled. Since it shuttered in 2011, the historic gallery, which was founded in 1846, has been embroiled in legal disputes over the tens of millions of dollars in counterfeit art that it sold to clients.

The suit involves a fake Mark Rothko painting that was sold to the Martin Hilti Family Trust in 2002 for $5.5 million. The trust was prompted to send paint samples from the oil painting to a lab for forensic analysis after the first reports of forgery concerns began to surface eight years ago and learned that the work was a copy.

The gallery purchased the Rothko, as well as a trove of works that were falsely attributed to Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, and Willem de Kooning, from the Long Island–based dealer Glafira Rosales, who was ordered to pay $81 million to the victims of the fraud scheme by a New York judge in 2017, and her former partners Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz and his brother, Jesus Bergantiños Diaz, who fled to Spain and have avoided extradition. Rosales and Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz commissioned the works from artist Pei-Shen Qian, whose whereabouts are unknown.

According to Artnet News, the gallery’s former director Ann Freedman settled with the trust in July. The remaining defendants—Knoedler Gallery owner Michael Hammer and his company 8–31 Holdings—reached a settlement agreement for an undisclosed amount earlier this month.

Emma Menell, the founding director of the UK’s Tyburn Gallery and the former editor of the South African Journal of Human Rights, has joined South Africa’s Goodman Gallery. Since it opened its doors in 2015, Tyburn has participated in numerous international art fairs and has staged exhibitions featuring work by African artists such as Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Admire Kamudzengerere, Michele Mathison, and Sethembile Msezane, as well as by international artists such as Mónica de Miranda, Umar Rashid, and Francisco Vidal.  

“This announcement is bittersweet as it is with great sadness that I will be closing Tyburn’s gallery space at the end of June, following four phenomenal years representing some of the most outstanding contemporary artists emerging from Africa and beyond,” Menell said. “It is with great excitement that I join Goodman Gallery’s leadership team in London and look forward to working with a roster of top international artists committed to confronting entrenched power structures and championing social justice.”

With spaces in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Goodman Gallery will open its first location outside of South Africa, on Cork Street in London, on October 3.

The Future Fair, a new art fair with a profit-sharing business model, will hold its inaugural edition in New York at Chelsea’s Canoe Studios during Frieze week next year. The brainchild of Rachel Mijares Fick, who has experience working at fairs such as Volta and Frieze, and art adviser Rebeca Laliberte, Future Fair will equally divide 35 percent of the profits it makes each year with participating galleries. However, in order to see additional revenue from the event, the fair will have to make money—eventually the founders hope the event will make its galleries three to four figures.

“We think that we need more optionality in the landscape that reflects the diversity of how galleries operate,” Mijares Fick told Artnews in an email. “We really want to keep pushing that needle further as to what our industry can be doing in terms of equitability and transparency with the galleries and also the artists.” For its first edition, each exhibitor will be expected to pay between $6,500 and $10,900 for three hundred to seven hundred square feet of space, which they will share with another gallery.

Cindy Lisica Gallery, located at 4411 Montrose in Houston, Texas, announced that it is closing its doors. Established by Cindy Lisica in January 2016, the gallery has mounted exhibitions by various local artists, including Catherine Colangelo, Rachel Gardner, Shangyi Hua, Jennifer McClish, Angel Oloshove, and Anthony Suber.

“While I will miss Houston dearly, I am delighted to open a new chapter in my professional and academic career at a world-class art school with international connections in the historic and inspiring city of Savannah, Georgia,” Lisica said in a statement. She will join the Savannah College of Art and Design as a professor of art history. According to Glasstire, the gallery was forced to cancel its 2020 exhibitions, but it will continue to have an online presence and to participate in art fairs.  

Perrotin gallery, which has locations in New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, and Shanghai, now represents artists Genesis Belanger, Gabriel de la Mora, Claire Tabouret, and Emily Mae Smith. “My introduction to these artists, and their important work, is inseparable from the global network that we have built,” founder Emmanuel Perrotin told the Art Newspaper. “As our geographic footprint grew and developed, so did conversation and collaboration.”

Senior director Valentine Blondel added: “The magical realism and social commentary in Genesis Belanger’s works find immediate kinship with seminal artists such as Maurizio Cattelan and Wim Delvoye. Similarly, Gabriel de la Mora’s exacting minimal abstractions build on the influence of pioneering Latin American artists like Jesús Rafael Soto and Julio Le Parc.”

Smith, an Austin-born, Brooklyn-based artist whose paintings have been featured in recent exhibitions at the Consortium Museum in Dijon, France, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, is the first of the four artists to have a solo exhibition with the gallery since the announcement. Featuring seven paintings that examine mythical places of paradise, “Avalon” opened at Perrotin’s Tokyo branch on August 28.

Emily Mae Smith, Gleaner Odalisque, 2019. Photo: Charles Benton. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.