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Agnes Martin, The Tree, 1964.
Agnes Martin, The Tree, 1964.

Lawsuit Against Agnes Martin Authentication Committee Dismissed

A New York Supreme Court judge has ruled that the committee members of Agnes Martin’s catalogue raisonné—including Pace Gallery founder Arne Glimcher, who represents the late artist’s estate—were within their rights to exclude thirteen paintings owned by London art dealer James Mayor from the official Martin raisonné, which provides a complete record of all the artist’s works, reports Artnews.

Mayor had argued that the presence of Glimcher and his son, Marc Glimcher, on the catalogue committee was a conflict of interest since they own and trade Martin’s work and that the rejection of the paintings “was motivated by their economic interest . . . [to reduce] the number of Martin artworks in the marketplace.”

In her decision, Judge Andrea Masley said: “Whether any catalogue raisonné’s inclusion or non-inclusion of an artwork has any bearing on the work’s value has been recognized by New York courts as a function of the art marketplace, and it is not for the court to determine what the art market should or should not credit as reliable.” 

Judge Masley had also dismissed Mayor’s 2016 suit against the authentication committee, for which he sought $7.2 million in damages, last year. During that case, the gallery claimed it was “longstanding frictions and disagreements” between Mayor and Glimcher that had motivated the committee’s decision to not include the works in the catalogue. 

In last year’s ruling, Judge Masley said that Mayor failed to prove that the committee’s decision was made out of “malice.” She also stated that the committee “is not required to turn over any information other than its decision to accept or decline to include the submitted work by letter, and does not have to grant any person an opportunity to rebut its decision.”

Melvyn R. Leventhal, one of Mayor’s attorneys, said that Mayor will appeal. Leventhal also plans to cite the European Fine Art Fair’s (TEFAF) decision to introduce a new global vetting policy that excludes dealers, so that committees consist of experts with as little commercial interest in the art market as possible, when the case goes to the appellate court.