Knoedler Suit Settled, Ending Trial in Third Week

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The $25 million suit brought by Domenico and Eleanore De Sole against the Knoedler & Company gallery over a fake Rothko was settled Wednesday morning, ending the high profile trial in its third week. The settlement was anticipated after the trial took an unexpected break Tuesday afternoon, ahead of testimony from two key witnesses: gallery owner Michael Hammer and former dealer Ann Freedman.

Freedman settled the claims against her over the weekend and was dropped as a defendant on Monday, leaving Knoedler & Co. and its holding company, 8-31 Holdings, as the last remaining defendants. Hammer was dropped as a defendant prior to the case going to trial.

“The case has been settled,” attorney for the defendants Charles Schmerler told reporters in the courtroom a little after 10am on Wednesday, calling the outcome “fair, reasonable, and good for all parties.” When the trial came to an early end yesterday before a packed house, Judge Paul Gardephe said it would resume Wednesday at 9:30am. Attorneys for both sides appeared to meet in chambers until approximately 10am, before emerging and announcing the outcome to reporters. Neither judge nor the jury appeared in the courtroom.

The settlement reached by the last remaining defendants was “enabled by the settlement by Ms. Freedman,” Schmerler added. The terms of both settlements are confidential. Six of the 10 lawsuits filed against Freedman and Knoedler & Co. over forged paintings have now been settled.

Gregory Clarick, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said his clients were “extremely satisfied” by the outcome. Asked by a reporter if the abrupt settlement was “a little anticlimactic,” he replied: “Maybe to you.”

Mostafa Heddaya (@mheddaya)

(Photo: Knoedler Gallery, by Wally Gobetz via Flickr.)