Friday, September 29, 2023

The Peter Doig Case In A Nutshell

Amongst the ongoing challenges of art authentication that have come up in recent news, namely concerning art foundations, one would think at the very least that the word of the artist affirming that the work was or was not authored by them would be the end of it (a luxury not often afforded to art foundations and auction houses). This was not the case for a work claimed by its owner to be created by artist Peter Doig.

As we reported here back in July the owner of a work signed “Peter Doige” sued Doig for claiming the work was not his. At trial, Doig offered evidence that he was not present where the owner claimed he was when the painting was created and sold. There was also evidence that someone named Peter Doige was in fact present and creating amateur paintings.

This week we watched the case finally play out, with Doig winning the surreal trial. Judge Feinerman stated “Most narratives in law and life have gaps. Very few narratives are airtight. This is especially true when considering events from 40 years ago, and all the more so when the events are routine quotidian events of daily life. While most narratives have gaps, and certainly both narratives have gaps, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that despite some gaps, Peter Marryat Doig absolutely did not paint the disputed work.”

Oddly enough, considering the hoops Doig had to jump through, the Judge went on to say, “an artist is well within his rights to ensure that works he did not create are not sold under his name.”

NPR reported a statement from Doig’s attorney, “I have rarely seen such a flagrant example of unethical conduct in the U.S. courts nor a case that inflicted such needless burdens on a defendant. Artists should be grateful to Peter for having the ethical and financial fortitude to fight tirelessly to ensure that justice prevailed in today’s verdict.”

The plaintiff is pondering an appeal.


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