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Verdict Is In for Artist Who Insists He Didn't Paint Picture

Peter Doig emerges victorious in odd art-world case
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2016 11:00 AM CDT
Judge Sides With Artist Who Says He Didn't Paint Picture
This undated photo provided by Bartlow Gallery, Ltd. shows the painting, once valued at more than $10 million.   (Bartlow Gallery, Ltd. via AP)

(Newser) – A case Artnet.com calls "one wild ride" may finally be over after a federal judge ruled Tuesday that artist Peter Doig wasn't the painter of a painting owned by an ex-corrections officer—and that the man and his art dealer couldn't sue Doig for foiling plans to sell the painting for millions, the New York Times reports. "Peter Doig could not have been the author of this work," Judge Gary Feinerman said, refuting plaintiffs' claims that Doig was fibbing by denying the landscape painting owned by Robert Fletcher was his. What made the case uncommon: Doig, a living artist, was forced to deny he'd made a painting rather than prove he had. Fletcher said he had seen Doig paint the piece in the mid-'70s while the artist was serving a short stint at the prison where Fletcher worked, and that Doig had later sold Fletcher the painting for $100. But Doig said he'd never been jailed and that the painting was by one Peter Edward Doige, whose sister provided evidence that seemed to indicate he was a closer match to being the artist behind the piece.

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The Times notes the plaintiffs used "somewhat unorthodox efforts" to make their case and compared Doig's other works—which often sell for tens of millions of dollars—to this particular painting, claiming Doig was lying because he didn't want to be publicly embarrassed at knocking off his own painting in later pieces. But the judge ruled against the plaintiffs, who had sought almost $8 million in damages and a certificate of authenticity for the now "worthless" painting—which Forbes notes was valued at $10 million before Doig disputed its origins, saying any similarities were "purely coincidental." The Chicago Sun-Times notes "no one's happy" with the ruling, with Doig's attorney calling the case a "flagrant example of unethical conduct in the US courts," Fletcher still insisting the painting is a Doig, and Fletcher's art dealer noting, "No one should be allowed to lie." (Read more art stories.)

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