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Art Theft

The Feds may move slow but they never forget, especially a fraudster.

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In Manhattan Federal Court, there’s a trial taking place that has highlighted just how murky the business of art authentication has become.

After suddenly closing in 2011 in the wake of massive lawsuits, Knoedler Gallery and its former director, Ann Freedman, are finally having their day in court: they’re currently faced with a civil lawsuit leveled by collector and Sotheby’s chairman Domenico de Sole, who thought he had bought an US$8.3 million Rothko from the gallery. It was actually painted by Pei-Shen Qian, a Chinese immigrant living in Queens.

But the collapse of the Knoedler, New York’s oldest art gallery, was much more protracted and complex than the forgery trial taking place. The gallery’s fall has much to do with profound changes in the gallery business over the last century and the increasing scarcity of profitable secondary market material.

To read more on Crain's:

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