Tuesday, August 23, 2016


The New York Times:  The Artist Peter Doig Wins a Case Involving a Painting's Attribution.

But of course, nobody really won here.

UPDATE:  More here from artnet's Dushko Petrovich.  He closes with a quote from one of Doig's dealers:  "It is our hope that this verdict will have at least one good outcome—that artists maintain the unfettered right to authenticate their own work."  Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case.  If an artist had the unfettered right to authenticate his own work, the case would have been dismissed earlier; it would never have come to trial.  Instead, what happened here is that the court treated the artist just as any third-party authenticator:  the ruling was that he happened to be right about the facts in this instance (i.e., the painting was by Doige not Doig).  But if he had been mistaken about that -- if he misremembered, or the status of the work was more ambiguous (say Doig had painted it while a teenager but he didn't regard it as a legitimate work) -- the outcome could have been different.  So I don't think artists should be especially heartened by the decision.  The case still stands as a warning that an artist who disclaims authorship of a work -- even on facts as ridiculous as these -- faces the possibility of thousands of hours of wasted working time and stress and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.