headlines | about |

Warhol Foundation Lawyers Quash Antitrust Lawsuit

Warhol self-portrait, 1964, was twice rejected by the foundation's authentication board.

ARTINFO, October 24, 2010, 2:28 pm
by Jason Edward Kaufman
Warhol Foundation Lawyers Quash Antitrust Lawsuit
The biggest legal brawl in the art world is coming to a crashing halt

NEW YORK - The closely watched federal lawsuit in which a private collector is suing the Andy Warhol Foundation and its subsidiary Art Authentication Board is about to reach an abrupt and unexpected end. Joe Simon, the London-based American whose 2007 complaint challenges the board’s rejection of the authenticity of the 1964 Warhol self-portrait that he owns, says that he and his lawyer, Seth Redniss of New York, will withdraw from the case at the next hearing, scheduled for November 10 in federal court in the Southern District of Manhattan. A parallel lawsuit in which Redniss is counsel, filed last year by U.S. collector Susan Shaer after the rejection of a self-portrait from the same series, also will be dropped, says Simon.

Simon...cites a lack of “financial resources” to continue the case, as well as the Warhol Foundation’s threat of punitive countersuits. The full text of Simon’s statement is below. Redniss declined to comment when contacted by telephone, and lawyers for the Warhol Foundation could not be immediately reached.

“The case is done,” says Simon. “I can’t do it anymore.” The reason is that Redniss, who has been working for years without pay in exchange for a percentage of a prospective settlement, is unable to respond to the numerous motions filed by lawyers for the Warhol Foundation. Simon says he does not have funds to hire additional counsel and is unable to enlist other firms willing to work on contingency.

A work from the series was reproduced on the dust jacket of the 1970 Warhol catalogue raisonne.

Simon and others had hoped that the lawsuit would uncover the committee’s secretive deliberations and open the door to claims that could result in reassessment of numerous rejected works, potentially resulting in many millions of dollars worth of art being reinstated in the Warhol canon. The stakes are extremely high. The auction record for a Warhol is $71.7 million paid for his 1963 Green Car Crash silkscreen canvas at Christie’s in May 2007.

Simon’s complaint further alleged that the Warhol Foundation and its authentication board engaged in an illegal conspiracy to control the Warhol market by limiting the number of approved Warhols, and thereby increasing the rarity and value of the hundreds of works owned and sold by the foundation. They sought damages and an injunction against the Warhol Foundation, the authentication board, the Warhol estate, and executor Vincent Fremont — the sales representative for the foundation’s paintings — alleging antitrust violations, collusion and fraud.

Read more, including a full statement by Simon, here.


from Artnet:

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts may have prevailed in its legal battle against Joe Simon, but it has certainly lost the last shreds of its credibility. This weekend’s news that Simon has decided to drop his long-running lawsuit to confirm the authenticity of his 1964 Andy Warhol Self-Portrait was especially surprising, since his case was all but proven: The painting was clearly viewed as authentic by the artist himself, as well as by many of his acolytes. But no, the might of Andy’s legacy -- assets worth more than $300 million and legal firepower led by no less than David Boies -- essentially bullied Simon into silence. Simon was swamped by "the numerous motions filed by lawyers for the Warhol Foundation," and is now "impecunious."

This latest misadventure comes fast on the heels of several others. The Warhol Foundation recently attempted to get out from under a dispute involving more than 100 Brillo Boxes, now widely acknowledged as bogus, that the foundation had authenticated. And who can forget the risible exchange of letters in 2009 between the foundation and art critic Richard Dorment in the pages of the New York Review of Books? There, Dorment pointed out the "sublime idiocy" of the foundation’s admission, in regard to the Warhol self-portrait, that "said work is NOT the work of Andy Warhol, but that said work was signed, dedicated and dated by him."

No reasonable explanation has been offered for the Warhol Foundation’s approach to this matter, though sadly it is seen in some quarters as evidence that the "art world" is dominated by a corrupt cabal of insiders. The Warhol Foundation -- and the exceptionally well-paid functionaries that run it -- should be ashamed.