News Opinions

Art experts and the fear of litigation

A reader alerted me of this interesting article in The Art Newspaper about art historians’ expert opinion and the fear of lawsuits.

The crisis around fake Abstract Expressionist works sold in New York—around 40 of which were handled by the now-defunct Knoedler Gallery — has sent shockwaves through the art market and is having a chilling effect on scholars.

As well as a federal investigation, there has been a slew of civil lawsuits. Most recently, a suit filed last month by the former director of the Knoedler Gallery, Ann Freedman, claims—in an effort to show that she was not negligent — that numerous experts accepted the authenticity of the works.

What is clear is that, with the financial and legal stakes at a record high, experts are more reluctant than ever to express their opinions freely. In a litigious art world, the fear of being dragged into court is real and growing.

Unfortunately, this self-censorship is also already present in the African art world. I know several stories that confirm this malicious trend.