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Dismissing Suit Against Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné Committee, Judge Bolsters Embattled Art-Authentication Field

Agnes Martin.


In a decision that could have major effects on the process of authenticating artworks in the United States, a New York Supreme Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Pace Gallery founder Arne Glimcher and the Agnes Martin catalogue raisonné committee, and awarded them the cost of their legal fees, Artnet News reported. London art dealer James Mayor had filed the lawsuit in 2016, arguing that the committee had hurt the value of 13 Martins he sold after it decided not to include them in its catalogue raisonné for Martin. Mayor was suing for $7.2 million, the total amount he said he may have to refund to those who bought the works.

A catalogue raisonné compiles an artist’s entire body of work, and the exclusion of those 13 artworks—sold by Mayor Gallery for prices ranging from $180,000 to $2.9 million—calls into question their authenticity.

“This is a big movement on the road to validating authentication committees and what they do,” Aaron Richard Golub, an attorney for Glimcher and the committee members, told Artnet. “They should be left alone to decide these things.” Because of concerns about being sued, some high-profile authentication committees, like those for Warhol and Basquiat, have shut down in recent years.

Glimcher was named in the suit because he is the managing member of the committee and the director of the Agnes Martin Foundation. The other defendants included the committee’s six members and the catalogue’s editor, Tiffany Bell. Mayor claimed that Glimcher’s involvement on the committee presented a conflict of interest, and he cited “longstanding frictions and disagreements” between himself and Glimcher as evidence of foul play.

In her ruling, Judge Andrea Masley wrote, “[The committee] is not required to turn over any information other than its decision to accept or decline to include the submitted work by letter, and does not have to grant any person an opportunity to rebut its decision.”

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