Knoedler Scandal Continues: Former Bear Stearns Director Slaps Gallery With a Forgery Lawsuit

Late Friday, new details about the ongoing Knoedler Gallery scandal emerged, in the form of another lawsuit by a collector who claims to have been sold a forged Willem de Kooning painting. It is the third such lawsuit filed against the gallery in recent months. The interesting part about the case, brought by Irving Place Capital CEO and former Bear Stearns senior managing director  John D. Howard, is that the plaintiff alleges forgery on the basis that Knoedler profited too much from the sale, therefore the work couldn’t be authentic. According to the filing, Knoedler paid $750,000 for the 1950’s de Kooning in 2007, then flipped it just days later. Howard bought it from the gallery for $4 million.

Howard’s attorneys from Lynn Cahill LLP wrote in the legal papers “No genuine work of art by de Kooning with a $4 million retail sale value could be purchased in good faith for $750,000,” according to the New York Times. Glafira Rosales, a little-known Long Island dealer who allegedly supplied Knoedler’s president, Ann Freedman, with the forged works, is also named as a defendant in the suit. Rosales is also being investigated by the FBI for selling forged paintings, although she denies having any knowledge that the paintings she was selling were forged.

Freedman’s lawyer, for his part, was adamant that Howard has no case. “This is a copycat case which, like its predecessors, has no possibility of success,” he told the Times.

Shane Ferro