One day after the Upper East Side’s 165-year-old Knoedler & Co. abruptly announced it would close its doors, London hedge-fund executive Pierre Lagrange filed a complaint in Manhattan federal court alleging that the gallery sold him a forged Jackson Pollock painting for $17 million.
According to the complaint, Bloomberg reports, Lagrange tried to resell the painting in 2010 to both Christie’s and Sotheby’s, but the two auctioneers refused to accept the consignment because of concerns about authenticity. The financier is now suing Knoedler and Ann Freedman, who was the gallery’s director at the time Lagrange purchased the painting in 2007. A consulting company hired by Lagrange concluded in a report last month that the painting was fake, according to the complaint.
Though a rep from the gallery told Bloomberg the sudden closure was a “business decision” that had nothing to do with the lawsuit, the complaint said that Knoedler closed a day after Lagrange gave the gallery a copy of the report he commissioned. The GLG Partners Inc. co-founder is seeking at least $15.3 million — the purchase price minus the commission he paid to two intermediaries — plus punitive damages. Knoedler’s spokeswoman called the complaints “baseless.”
In recent months, Knoedler has been in the news for its potential involvement in another lawsuit, settled last month, over a forged Robert Motherwell painting. Though it was not a party to the litigation, of the six paintings mentioned in the suit, three were sold through, or at one point associated with, Knoedler. Ann Freedman is mentioned in the suit as having been involved in several of the sales.
— Julia Halperin