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Lagrange v. Knoedler — SETTLED

The venerable art gallery that was Knoedler & Co. will continue appearing in court filings and academic publications for a long time. There are a number of cases pending against it brought by disgruntled art collectors who claim that Knoedler sold fakes in the 2000s. On a brighter note, Getty Research Institute just acquired the Knoedler archive (1850-1971), recognizing the historical importance of this long prosperous and once respectable institution central to the history of art collecting and the art market in the US and Europe.

In the clean up efforts to unwind Knoedler’s business and clean up its good name, one of the suits against Knoedler is now settled. On October 4, 2012 Knoedler agreed to settle the 2011 lawsuit over an allegedly fake 1980 Jackson Pollock painting, acquired by a hedge fund manager Pierre Lagrange for $17 million. The work was purchased four years ago, and when Lagrange tried to sell it at auction, it was rejected because it was never included in the Pollock catalogue raisonne.

Having reached an amicable agreement, attorneys for Lagrange, the gallery and the former directory of the gallery filed a stipulation to dismiss the case; terms of the settlement are confidential, of course. While all parties ought to be satisfied to some degree with the settlement, Lagrange will go down in history as the person who pulled the peg that held the 165 years old gallery intact. Reportedly, “Knoedler closed its doors a day after Lagrange provided the gallery with an expert report that the painting was a fake.”

Ann Freedman, the former gallery directory, is represented by Nicholas Gravante, JrMatthew S. Dontzin represents Lagrange. Knoedler is represented by Charles D. Schmerler.

Case: Lagrange v. Knoedler, 11-8757, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Source: Bloomberg Business Week; New York Times.