Political impact on argumentation in an art forgery case

03 Apr, 2017 News

It is not unusual when cultural objects are made subject to political interests. It sounds strange though when political rivalry is put as an argument in an art forgery case.

According to Page Six (http://pagesix.com/2017/03/29/trial-for-fake-renoir-painting-results-in-1-1m-for-gallery-owner/), last week Alex Komolov, the owner Alskom Gallery in Manhattan, was awarded $1.1 million — the full amount he paid for the piece back in 2010 - for fraudulent Renoir painting.

It is interesting, that the council of the seller and defendant in the case - Jack Shaoul of Universe Antiques - "attempted to use Komolov’s nationality to portray him as dishonest by pointing out that he’s from Russia—a baldfaced attempt to take advantage of the climate of distrust stemming from Vladimir Putin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 American presidential election" (citation from Court Orders Antiques Dealer to Pay Gallerist $1.1 Million Over Fake Renoir in Bizarre Trial, https://news.artnet.com/art-world/fake-renoir-verdict-908033).

As the decision shows, the origin's argument had not taken decisive effect in this particular court case. However, this is the symptom of what is becoming common - turning upside down the interrelation of fair business and fair politics.

"Attempts to smear Alex with his Russian heritage were weak at best and deplorable at worst,” said Komolov’s legal crisis manager, Wendy Feldman. (Trial for fake Renoir painting results in $1.1M for gallery owner, http://pagesix.com/2017/03/29/trial-for-fake-renoir-painting-results-in-1-1m-for-gallery-owner/).

The case is remarkable also for the defendant's Shaoul claim he purchased the painting from a man who came back to life and died again in two months afterwards.