News The Knoedler Affair

It’s Over: Knoedler Settles With the De Soles, Concluding Three-Week Case Over $8.3 M. Fake Rothko

The onetime home of the Knoedler Gallery on the Upper East Side.COURTESY KNOEDLER & COMPANY

The onetime home of the Knoedler Gallery on the Upper East Side.


Domenico and Eleanore De Sole have settled with the remaining defendants in their case regarding their purchase of a fake Mark Rothko painting from New York’s Knoedler Gallery for $8.3 million in 2004. The De Soles alleged that Knoedler and its former director Ann Freedman—who settled with the De Soles this past weekend—knowingly misrepresented the Rothko as authentic. The De Soles were suing Freedman, Knoedler, and the gallery’s holding company, 8-31, for $25 million. Lawyers for all parties involved would not discuss the terms of the settlement.

This brought an anticlimactic end to a trial in Federal District Court in Lower Manhattan that has lasted nearly three weeks and included dramatic testimony from a string of art experts, former Knoedler employees, and the De Soles themselves. Freedman and Michael Hammer, Knoedler’s owner, were scheduled to testify yesterday, when the presiding judge abruptly cut the day short.

“The case is over,” Emily Reisbaum, a lawyer for the De Soles, said nonchalantly to a room of journalists at the courthouse.

Charles Schmerler, a lawyer for Knoedler, said Freedman’s settlement helped to “enable a fair, reasonable, and good settlement for the other parties.” Other cases regarding forged paintings sold by Knoedler—a cache of counterfeits brought to the gallery by Long Island dealer Glafira Rosales between 1994 and 2009 that included the De Soles’ Rothko—will continue to go forward, Schmerler said. Five other lawsuits brought by purchasers of fake paintings have been settled out of court.

“Our clients were extremely satisfied with the settlements they were able to reach,” said Gregory Clarick, another of the De Soles’ lawyers. He added that the couple was pleased to be able to “put the truth on the table.”

“The fact that this was a fraud from 1994 to 2009 was totally unavoidable to see,” Clarick continued. “We are proud of these clients, who had the resolve to make it to court.”

Update 02/10/2016, 11:10 a.m.: An earlier version of this article carried an incorrect byline. The post has been updated to reflect this.

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