Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pollock Kerfuffle at Everhart Museum

There was a lot that was odd in this report about a Pollock painting allegedly stolen from the Everhart Museum in Scranton, including (a) the owner's claim that he doesn't know a single private collector who insures his artworks and (b) that the museum's surveillance cameras "are not set up to record images." Now comes a follow up report that the museum's insurance company (whose owner also seems to be a member of the museum's Board of Trustees) is refusing to pay out a claim -- on the grounds that the work "is a fake." This may now put the museum in a bind: the painting's owner -- who vigorously disputes the insurer's claim ("a tissue of lies") -- could potentially have a claim against the museum for failing to return his property to him. Presumably the museum would then have the burden of proving the work was inauthentic, which might not be so easy given that (a) now that it's been stolen, there's no way to physically examine the work (a point the owner explicitly makes in the article) and (b) the museum itself had previously accepted the work for exhibition and told the world that it was an authentic Pollock. According to the article, if authentic the painting could be worth as much as $11 million.