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Alec Baldwin’s Legal Tussle Over a Painting

14 November 2017

Not explicitly about books, but definitely about artistic honesty.

From The New Yorker:

In 1996, the artist Ross Bleckner painted “Sea and Mirror,” a large canvas dotted with shimmering shapes. Some years later, Baldwin received an invitation to a show of Bleckner’s work; it featured a photograph of “Sea and Mirror.” Baldwin loved the image, and carried the invitation around in his briefcase for years. In 2010, Baldwin bought a painting from Bleckner’s “Time” series from Mary Boone, and he told her that he’d like to buy “Sea and Mirror,” too. Boone e-mailed that she was “thrilled” that Baldwin would have the painting, and they agreed on a price of a hundred and ninety thousand dollars. A few months later, the painting was delivered to Baldwin.

When the picture arrived, it was signed, dated, and, on the back, stamped with “7449,” the inventory number of the 1996 work. But Baldwin thought the colors looked off. Last week, calling from a movie shoot, he said, “They were bright, like M&M’s.” Also, he added, “the brushstrokes were less feathery, and the paint smelled, well, fresh.”

He went on, “When I called up Mary and asked, ‘Why do these paintings look so different?’ she said the owner was a heavy smoker, so Ross had taken the painting off the stretcher and cleaned and repaired it for me, as a courtesy, before delivering it. At first, I was not prepared to tell myself it was a fake. I was inclined to believe them, partly because it was Ross, who I respect and whose work I love.”

Six years later, Baldwin mentioned the matter to some artist friends, who told him that the story sounded fishy, and that no reputable artist or dealer would clean a painting without permission from the owner.

. . . .

The artist admitted that the painting was a copy, and later wrote, in an e-mail to Baldwin, “I’m so sorry about all of this. I feel so bad about this.” Baldwin then called Boone for an explanation. After numerous calls and e-mails, he said, she admitted that she’d sold him a copy. “Mary cried on the phone,” he recalled. “She said, ‘You caught me. I wanted to make you happy.’ ” Boone told him that he could return the painting for a full refund, plus interest.

Baldwin was angry, and he wanted to expose Boone. The six-year statute of limitations precluded him from pressing criminal charges, however, so last year he filed a civil suit in New York State Supreme Court against Boone and her gallery, charging that they had intentionally defrauded him.

. . . .

[In] the course of pretrial discovery, Baldwin’s lawyers turned up what they considered to be incriminating e-mails referring to aging the painting and making sure the paint was dry. Last week, the parties settled.

Link to the rest at The New Yorker

A number of years ago, a lawyer friend of PG’s said, “If it weren’t for human nature, lawyers wouldn’t get any business.”

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4 Comments to “Alec Baldwin’s Legal Tussle Over a Painting”

  1. “She said, ‘You caught me. I wanted to make you happy.’ ”

    No, she wanted to make the money …

  2. I don’t know much about art, but I know what I don’t like: Sea and Mirror. Saw an article about this ages ago that showed both versions of the painting. The difference was obvious. I’m surprised Alec didn’t return it or sue immediately.

  3. He paid $190,000 in 2010, and just got a seven figure settlement? At a minimum, that’s one million. Give the attorney one third, and Baldwin gets $665,000. That’s a pretty healthy return on a seven year investment. I’m guessing appx 28% annual return.

    Following the money is an art.

    • I was about to comment that the doofus about art was claiming today that he’d make a good President.

      Considering your comment, maybe he has a point? (Although it would be kind of hard to make it to voters while they’re throwing stuff at him – his personality is apparently rather poisonous to a large number of people, both Right and Left.)

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