Friday, June 06, 2014

"Authoritative authentication is essential to a well-functioning art market, the bill's sponsors maintain."

Tracy Zwick has a good piece in Art in America on the proposed authentication legislation in New York.  I'm quoted as saying I don't think the legislation would be a game-changer, and here's why.  Suppose you're an authenticator thinking of speaking up in some future Knoedler-type situation.  You know that, if you do so, you may end up getting sued.  Under this proposed legislation, you might be a little more willing to do so, because you can recover your legal fees if you successfully defend the lawsuit ... but what if you can't?  What if the person who sues you doesn't have the million dollars (or more) you had to lay out to defend the suit (not to mention all the time and stress and aggravation that being in a lawsuit inevitably entails)?  And what if, heaven forbid, you lose the lawsuit?  It can happen you know; there are no guarantees when it comes to litigation.  Now you're looking at the possibility of a multi-million dollar verdict for disparaging that Pollock or Warhol or Basquiat.  When you add it all up, aren't you (probably) still going to keep quiet?