Domenico and Eleanore De Sole are suing the defunct Knoedler Gallery for $25 million, alleging that the gallery’s president Ann Freedman–who is also named as a defendant–conspired to sell them a fake Rothko. Mr. De Sole is the chairman of Tom Ford’s fashion firm. The FBI has already been investigating a number of allegedly forged paintings that were brought to market by a Long Island dealer and sold through Knoedler.
The De Soles purchased what they believed to be a Rothko painting, Untitled 1956, in 2004 for $8.3 million. According to the suit as reported by The New York Times, “A forensic analysis of the painting commissioned by the De Soles found that some of the materials and markings were ‘inconsistent and irreconcilable with the claim’ that the painting was done by Rothko.”
A spokesperson for Knoedler told The Times, “Any suggestion that Knoedler defrauded these or any other of its valued clients is baseless and irresponsible.”
The gallery was also sued back in December by a London collector for allegedly selling him a fake Pollock painting. Knoedler abruptly closed four months ago with a curt e-mail that gave no reasons for shutting down business after 165 years other than to say it was a “difficult business decision.”