Friday, June 13, 2014

F is for Fake (2014) Norval Morrisseau fakes displayed at the SAW Gallery in Ottawa

F IS FOR FAKE
Art, Cinema and Forgery
Ritchie Sinclair stands in front of two of three works noted as fakes by Morrisseau now on display at the SAW Gallery, 67 Nicholas, Arts Court building, to Aug. 16.

I found no joy in appearing as a discussion panelist compelled to consider the issue of art forgery at the SAW Gallery’s “F is For Fake” exhibition that opened in Ottawa on June 7 2014. Under the discussion microscope was the question of our society’s complacency with regard to art forgery and interestingly the issue of censorship. The exhibition is ongoing until August 16th 2014. I highly recommend taking it in. Beyond notorious purported Morrisseau’s are a number of fascinating exhibits including Banksy’s $10 pound counterfeit notes, now worth $200 pounds and rising. That guy is one cool artist!

There were two other panelists who appeared with me. 

John Boyle-Singfield had inferior copies made of the works of a four-artist group that exhibited at a gallery in Chicoutimi, Quebec, just before he did. He took photos of the artwork displayed and sent the pics to an online China-based business that employed factory artists to reproduce the works. John’s show was hung yet never opened after complaints by the four artists derailed it. The issue of censorship made it a notable news story in Quebec.

Mark Forgy was also a panelist. I find it interesting that his name is pronounced with a hard G as in ‘fog’ rather than a soft G as in ‘forgery’. Mark was an artistic apprentice in the 1960s to the notable forger, Elmyr de Hory, who committed suicide in 1976, several years after Orson Welles screened the cult-classic documentary film about him entitled “F for Fake”.  Hory made fools of the experts.

Thus we get to the crux of this cool exhibition. Is forgery driven by revenge, belligerence and protest against the elite?… or is it really a male-dominated serious black-market business offering takers fake inclusion into an exclusive club? Is art fraud a crime nobody wants to know about? A joke on the rich by the not so rich?

Did our lively discussion moderated by assistant curator Kathleen Nicholls lead to any conclusions? Yes, the agreed upon fact that Jason St-Laurent is one courageous charismatic cutting-edge curator.

Ritchie Sinclair, John Boyle-Singfield, Mark Forgy and moderator Kathleen Nicholls

How impressive is the exhibition? Very! The fraud distorting the wonderful artistic legacy of Norval Morrisseau gets overdue exposure from the Canadian arts community in this kickass art show.

The notorious Hatfield v Sherway purported Morrisseau painting is on display until August 16th along with two other abominations sold to principal Morrisseau art dealer, Bryant Ross, of Coghlan art. A decade or more ago Bryant showed the two canvases to Norval who confirmed that they were fakes. Later, in a historic video, Bryant painted a large red X and the word FAKE over one of them.


Censorship has been an ongoing issue when it comes to the issue of Morrisseau fakes.  Those who speak up are subject to character assassination and those who show images of fakes are subject to lawsuits.

Apparently bootlegging anything is serious business.

I wish the SAW Gallery and their lawyers well. If there’s anything I can do to assist; just ask. I’ve had plenty of practice.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Canadian musicians say they were victims of massive art-forgery ring (2014) CTV National Canada AM


Two well-known Canadian musicians say they are victims of an alleged art-forgery ring that is producing counterfeit works of famous Canadian Aboriginal artist Norval Morrisseau -- what could amount to one of the largest art frauds in Canadian history.

CTV News 
Published Friday, February 7, 2014 10:04AM EST 
(NOTE - This video and article has been republished in full as a matter of significant public interest)

Two well-known Canadian musicians say they are victims of an alleged art-forgery ring that is producing counterfeit works of famous Canadian Aboriginal artist Norval Morrisseau.

Kevin Hearn, the keyboardist for Canadian band the Barenaked Ladies, and John McDermott, a Scottish-Canadian tenor best known for his rendering of the song “Danny Boy,” say the Morrisseau paintings they purchased from a gallery in Toronto are forgeries. Both men are suing the dealer who sold them the paintings.

It has been rumoured since the early 2000s that Morrisseau fakes were being sold on the Canadian market. Morrisseau, whose work focused on Aboriginal myths and legends, died in 2007.

Ritchie Sinclair, a close friend and former apprentice of Morrisseau’s, says the artist had been aware forgeries had been circulating on the market before his death. He says Morrisseau even wrote to a gallery saying dealers were selling fakes of his work.

Sinclair says most of the forgeries he’s seen have come from Thunder Bay, Ont., adding that more than 2,000 fake images have emanated from the northern Ontario city.

“I consider it egregious what they’ve done to him (Morrisseau), “Sinclair told CTV’s Canada AM Friday Morning. “It’s similar to someone actually stealing your identity. And the imagery is really not up to par, it’s not what one would consider a true forgery.”

Sinclair has set up Morrisseau.com, a website set that helps art collectors differentiate between fake Morrisseau’s and the real thing.

Sinclair says one telltale sign of a Morrisseau forgery is a signature in black paint on the back of a painting.

“You’ll never find anything from the historical records or from the museums that have this,” said Sinclair, holding up what he says is a Morrisseau forgery which features the signature. “These all appeared after 1999.”

Sinclair says he believes the paintings both Hearn and McDermott are bought fakes. McDermott purchased three paintings for more than $15,000.

Before his death, Morrisseau tried to clamp down on forgeries by signing affidavits and forming the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society. The society is the only body that can authenticate his work. 

Morrisseau was born in Beardmore, Ontario in 1932. He w as a self-taught artist and became know n as the “Picasso of the North.” He also founded the Woodlands School of Canadian Art.

Morrisseau struggled with substance abuse during his life, and had been known to trade his art pieces for alcohol for places to stray when he lived on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

It’s estimated he created more around 10,000 paintings during life. He battled Parkinson’s disease for many years, dying from cardiac arrest in 2007.

Read the article on the Loop

Saturday, October 26, 2013

John McDermott v Joseph McLeod and Maslak McLeod Gallery Inc. (2013) Norval Morrisseau Legal

‘Fraud ring’ produced fake Morrisseau paintings, claim alleges 
James Adams

Excerpts from the Globe & Mail article:
Famed Canadian tenor John McDermott is alleging that in 2003 he was sold three paintings attributed to Norval Morrisseau that he now believes are “fakes and imitations” produced by “a fraud ring operating out of Thunder Bay,” with a nephew of the legendary Ojibwa artist named as one of the “various forgers.”
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“the plaintiff has investigated the likely source of the paintings and discovered they appear to have been made by a fraud ring operating out of Thunder Bay [and] run by an individual by the name of Gary Lamont, who at various times has employed various forgers, including local artists Benjamin Morrisseau [son of Barney Morrisseau, one of Norval Morrisseau’s brothers] and Timothy Tait [a First Nations artist].”
-----------------
Named in the statement as “reseller entities” are Toronto-area auctioneer Randy Potter and Thunder Bay dealer David Voss, both of whom have openly and publicly sold canvases attributed to Mr. Morrisseau.
------------------
In his statement, Mr. McDermott alleges gallery owner Mr. McLeod failed to disclose “certain critical information” at the time of his purchase. This includes the contents of a declaration sworn by Mr. Morrisseau in April, 2003, and sent to Mr. McLeod claiming that one of the three paintings Mr. McDermott would buy (for $9,000), Sacred Bear Children (1971), was a fake and/or imitation.



Pictured above - Maslak McLeod Gallery's, "Sacred Bear Children", disavowed by Norval Morrisseau in a sworn and witnessed Declaration.

____________________________________


John McDermott
v
Joseph McLeod and Maslak McLeod Gallery Inc. (2013) 

An October 2013 Superior Court Claim of $64.5K for deceit, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fidiciary duty, breach of contract, innocent misrepresentation, and/or mistake.

 Statement of Claim > filed October 17 2013, served October 25 2013.

 Paras 13-15 of the McDermott v McLeod claim

13. At no time did the defendant disclose to the plaintiff certain critical information relevant to the Paintings that was within the defendants' knowledge, which information included, inter alia, the facts that the Paintings are of a species of Morrisseau painting that was then (and still is) the subject of significant and persistent disagreement regarding authenticity, and that the defendants were specifically prohibited by Morrisseau himself for acting as authenticators of his work on the basis that the defendants had, inter alia, allegedly been selling and authenticating large quantities of fake and/or forged Morrisseau paintings as part of a fraud scheme.

14. Furthermore, at no time did the defendants disclose to the plaintiff that they knew that one of the Paintings, SBS, had been specifically identified by Norval Morrisseau himself, in a sworn and witnessed declaration, dated April 24, 2003, as a "fake and imitation" (the Declaration").

15. The plaintiff has investigated the likely source of the Paintings and discovered that they appear to have been made by a fraud ring operating out of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The fraud ring is run by an individual by the name of Gary Lamont, who at various times has employed various forgers, including local artists Benjamin Morrisseau and Timothy Tait, to produce large numbers of fake Norval Morrisseau paintings. The resulting paintings are then sold on the internet, by phone, and in person to various collectors, resellers, dealers and auction houses for resale, which reseller entities include both David Voss and Randy Potter, both of whom the defendants have referred to as having handled Paintings sold and/or authenticated by them in the past. The large numbers of fake paintings produced by this fraud ring have deeply infiltrated the market for Norval Morrisseau artworks.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Welcome to the Reservation (Russell Means) 1939-2012


"Culture is about values... if you have value you have culture."

Here is deep wisdom and precise knowledge for those with the patience to listen. "Welcome to the Reservation" by the late Russell Means shares the profound philosophy of another man of spirit from "skid-row".



Saturday, June 15, 2013

Norval Morrisseau, the press, police and art fraud - Framing the Picture (2013) Joshua Paul Nelson

The Canadian Print Media’s Construction of an Atypical Crime - Art Fraud - and its Victims, 1978-2012 - Excerpts from a thesis by Joshua Paul Nelson, University of Guelph

While many have investigated media constructions of "newsworthy"crimes, the overwhelming focus of these analyses has been upon violent crime in its myriad forms. In marked contrast, this thesis examines the Canadian print media’s construction of art fraud - the offence, its victims and offenders - and, in particular, its response to acclaimed artist Norval Morrisseau’s reports of victimization. It finds that, just as art fraud is not thought of as normal "crime news" and bracketed away elsewhere, the victims of art fraud tend not to be regarded as "ideal victims." The Canadian print media rarely framed art fraud as a "crime against culture"; more commonly, it was depicted as a low-risk crime that pays, with its perpetrators cast as charming rogues or artful dodgers and the most notorious depicted as "heroes." This curious portrayal may promote schadenfreude, have incentive effects for some and discourage others from reporting experiences of criminal victimization.

None of the articles that addressed allegations of art fraud in relation to Morrisseau included even the briefest of comments from a Canadian organization and/or governmental department that is expressly concerned with the promotion and protection of Aboriginal art or with the broader issue of cultural appropriation. In like fashion, despite repeated claims that Morrisseau was the victim of criminal wrongdoing, none of the articles that reported Morrisseau’s claims of victimization or the NMHS contained even a single comment from a member of a police organization or mentioned that, between September 2008 - December 2010, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted an investigation of art fraud in relation to Morrisseau’s works and reputedly interviewed "hundreds of witnesses and suspects....including eye witnesses to forgery production and participants who disclosed their roles in the fraud" ("Norval Morrisseau Legal", 2013). Instead, one found the suggestion that the "primitive" quality of the acclaimed Aboriginal artist’s paintings made them remarkably "easy" to forge.

In like fashion, while allegations of fraud in relation to Morrisseau’s artworks have featured in numerous civil court actions including Kevin Hearn v. Joseph Bertram McLeod and Maslak McLeod Gallery Inc. (2012, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, CV-12-455650),Goldi Productions Ltd., John Goldi and Joan Goldi v Ritchie Sinclair (2011, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Small Claims Court - Brampton, SC-11-00005519), Kinsman Robinson Galleries v Ugo Matulic (2010, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, CV-10-477123), Sun Nat Kim v Ritchie Sinclair (2010, Ontario Superior Court of Justice - Toronto Small Claims Court, SC-10-0010945), James White v Ritchie Sinclair (2010, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto Small Claims Court, SC-10- 109226), Joseph Otavnik v Art Dealers Association of Canada (2009, Ontario Superior Court of  Justice), Joseph Otavnik v Richard H. Baker (2009, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Small Claims, SC-09-062979), Maggie Hatfield v Donna Child and Artworld Inc. (c.o.b. as Artworld of Sherway), (2009, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto Small Claims Court, SC-09-087264- 000), Richie Sinclair v Joseph Otavnik (2009, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto Small Claims Court, SC-09-000872782-D), Joseph Otavnik v Garth Cole (2009, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto Small Claims Court, SC-09-08444000), Joseph Otavnik v Ritchie Sinclair and Kinsman Robinson Galleries (2008, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Small Claims Court, SC- 09-000872782), Joseph McLeod (c.o.b. Maslak Mcleod Gallery), Jackie Bugera, Bugera Holding Ltd (c.o.b. Bearclaw Art Gallery), James White, White Distribution Limited, Donna Child, Artsworld Inc. (c.o.b. Artworld of Sherway), Sun Nam Kim ("Sunny Kim"), Gallery Sunami Inc. (c.o.b. Gallery Sunami) v Ritchie Sinclair (2008, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, CV-08- 00366828), Michael Moniz v CTV Globemedia Inc. (2007, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Brampton, CV-07-1776 SR), Jonathan Browne v Jackie Bugera and Bugera Holdings Ltd. (c.o.b. Bearclaw Gallery) (2009, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, CV-09-00370363), Joseph Otavnik v Gabor Vadas (Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto Small Claims Court, SC-07-51428) ("Norval Morrisseau Legal," 2013), only one of these cases were mentioned within the Canadian print media during the years under scrutiny and that case involved, as its plaintiff, Kevin Hearn, the keyboardist of the Barenaked Ladies.

While those who possess characteristics that are suggestive of high social status may be accorded preferential treatment by the press when they allege victimization by violent crime, this would not seem true of those who are victimized by what may be construed as a "crime of privilege," such as art fraud. Just as art fraud is not thought of as normal "crime news" (Katz, 1987) and bracketed away elsewhere, the victims of art fraud tend to be regarded as other than ideal victims. For example, it is evident that the media’s depiction of those who purchase forged artworks reveals victimblaming and echoes the "techniques of neutralization" (Sykes and Matza, 1957) that are used by confidence men in discounting the significance of their deeds and warding off imputations of moral blameworthiness (see, for example, Maurer, 1940) . My examination of the Canadian print media’s peculiar construction of crime, criminals and victims in the world of art fraud, from 1978 to 2012, reveals that art fraud is not generally positioned as normal "crime news" and, more commonly, is bracketed away elsewhere. It also finds that unlike conventional crime news, the depiction of "heroes" and "villains" within news reports of art fraud can reverse the traditional occupants of these roles, with those who "police" art fraud cast as "villains" and those who participate in art fraud and, especially, those who are the most notorious practitioners of this crime, cast as "heroes."

Although my research did not measure the impact of the Canadian print media’s construction of art fraud from 1978-2012 upon its audience and my comments must be understood as being entirely speculative, the framing of art fraud within these stories would seem unlikely to inspire confidence in the workings of the Canadian criminal justice system or in the abilities of experts to police art fraud effectively. Indeed, the opposite would seem more true. That is, the Canadian print media’s construction of art fraud may serve to discourage those who are victims of this offense from reporting their victimization to Canadian police agencies.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Morrisseau protege Ritchie Sinclair sues John Goldi, Joan Goldi and Ugo Matulic for $1.3 Million for libel


"If you don't have integrity, you have nothing. 
You can't buy it. You can have all the money in the world, 
but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing." ~ Henry Kravis


Figure d) and e) from Schedule "D" to the Amended Statement of Claim in CV-13-473208

Figure (d) is a trademarked photograph, copyright 2011 Ritchie Sinclair, allegedly doctored by the defendants as figure (e) to support the inference that Kinsman Robinson Gallery staff were instructed in forgery identification by Ritchie Sinclair.

Sinclair v Goldi et al (CV-13-473208)

34. The defendants also took copies of the plaintiff’s personal photographs of the plaintiff, from the plaintiff’s websites, and then republished them on the Hoax-Blogs to accompany the Defamatory Words. Moreover, the plaintiff’s photographs are being utilized in a malicious and libelous manner by the defendants who have manipulated and “doctored” them to further infringe the plaintiff’s rights.
Amended Statement of Claim (para. 34)





Monday, May 27, 2013

Myths and Legends (1992) Norval Morrisseau and the Hatfield Appeal


 Myths and Legends
Norval Morrisseau - (on a background by Ritchie Sinclair)
72 x 42 inches, 1992, acrylic on canvas


Ten months after the final day of trial in the Hatfield v Artworld case, small claims court Deputy Judge (DJ) Martial released his long-awaited Decision. Apparently produced under pressure, it appeared soon after Court administration were contacted about his extraordinary tardiness. Those who believed that DJ Martial spent months ruminating over his Ruling because it was so complicated were in for a shock, because his Judgment shows no signs of deliberation. DJ Martial took the defendants and their witnesses at their word, perjured or not. No "confusing" documentary evidence was required and no explanation for his disappearing act was forthcoming.

In my view, this arrogantly written document is as suspect as the judgment of the one who wrote it.

Stardreamer


EXCERPTS FROM: Retired teacher continues legal fight over disputed Norval Morrisseau painting By Jacquie Miller, OTTAWA CITIZEN May 10, 2013

Margaret Hatfield has appealed a Toronto small-claims court ruling that the painting she bought in 2005 was “on the balance of probabilities” a genuine work of art by Morrisseau, one of Canada’s most famous painters. Hatfield’s appeal alleges that the ruling by deputy judge Paul Martial had 34 errors of law and fact. The ruling resulted in a “substantial wrong and miscarriage of justice,” according to Hatfield’s appeal filed May 1 with the Divisional Court, Superior Court of Justice.
-------------
The appeal also alleges the small-claims court judge erred by “unreasonably and incorrectly relying in the decision upon misapprehended facts, statements of fact that do not form a part of the evidence, unsupported non-expert hearsay evidence, and documents which were never disclosed or made evidence ...”
The appeal lists several examples, including the judge’s statement that Morrisseau had “Alzheimer’s disease.”
 ---------------------
The “learned judge erred in fact by unreasonably emphasizing the fact that Don Robinson sells paintings by Norval Morrisseau as evidence of a conflict of interest, while entirely ignoring the fact that the defendants and the key witnesses for the defendants ... all currently own and/or sell the black-drybrush paintings at the heart of the controversy in the trial,” said the appeal.


THE GROUNDS OF APPEAL are as follows:

1. The learned trial judge erred in law by failing entirely to consider the cause of action of fraudulent misrepresentation in relation to the defendants’ failure to disclose the latent defect or cloud on title of the subject painting, which cause of action was plead and argued by the plaintiff;

2. The learned trial judge erred in law by failing entirely to consider the cause of action of deceit in relation to the defendants’ failure to disclose the latent defect or cloud on title of the subject painting, which cause of action was plead and argued by the plaintiff;

3. The learned trial judge erred in law by failing entirely to consider the cause of action of negligent misrepresentation in relation to the defendants’ failure to disclose the latent defect or cloud on title of the subject painting, which cause of action was plead and argued by the plaintiff;

4. The learned trial judge erred in law by failing entirely to consider the cause of action of innocent misrepresentation in relation to the defendants’ failure to disclose the latent defect or cloud on title of the subject painting, which cause of action was plead and argued by the plaintiff;

5. The learned trial judge erred in law by failing entirely to consider the cause of action of mistake in relation to the defendants’ failure to disclose the latent defect or cloud on title of the subject painting, which cause of action was plead and argued by the plaintiff;

6. The learned trial judge erred in law when he failed to correctly apply the law of expert evidence by allowing, and then relying upon in the Decision, the opinion evidence of the defence witness Wilfred Morrisseau;

7. The learned trial judge erred in law when he failed to correctly apply the law of expert evidence by allowing, and then relying upon in the Decision, the opinion evidence of the defence witness Jim White;

8. The learned trial judge erred in law when he failed to correctly apply the law of expert evidence by allowing, and then relying upon in the Decision, the opinion evidence of the defence witness Joseph McLeod;

9. The learned trial judge erred in law when he failed to properly apply the evidentiary principle of relevance by allowing, and then relying upon in the Decision, the testimony of Joseph McLeod regarding the basis on which he issued the certificate of appraisal and authentication for the subject painting;

10. The learned trial judge erred in law when he failed to correctly apply the law of expert evidence and stated that the plaintiff’s expert witness Don Robinson, was not qualified to provide his opinion in relation to the signatures of Norval Morrisseau, and then rejected such testimony on that basis;

11. The learned trial judge erred in law when he effectively placed upon the plaintiff the onus of proving the competence of Norval Morrisseau at the specific time of his execution of the critical sworn statutory declaration dated September 22, 2004 regarding the subject painting, rather than upon the defendants to disprove such competence;

12. The learned trial judge erred in fact and law by unreasonably and incorrectly disregarding the defendant Donna Child’s de facto ownership and control of, and profit from, the corporate defendant, and her reckless disregard for the truth regarding the facts related to the subject painting, and that she is immune to liability simply on the basis that she is an employee of the corporate defendant;

13. The learned trial judge erred in law and fact by incorrectly and unreasonably allowing, and then relying upon in the Decision, the non-expert opinion evidence of Joe McLeod that the commissioned signature of Norval Morrisseau on a sworn statutory declaration was forged;

14. The learned trial judge erred in fact and law by unreasonably and incorrectly allowing, and then relying upon in the decision, the non-expert medical opinion statements by the defendants, and their various witnesses, regarding Norval Morrisseau’s capacity and his mental states in or around the time of his signing of the statutory declaration identifying the subject painting as a fake.

15. The learned trial judge erred in law and fact by incorrectly and unreasonably relying in the Decision upon vague and imprecise hearsay evidence, and misapprehending clear documentary and direct evidence, on the issue of Norval Morrisseau’s competence at the specific time of his execution of the critical sworn statutory declaration regarding the subject painting;

16. The learned trial judge erred in fact and law by incorrectly, unreasonably, by double-standard, and in contravention of public policy finding that the plaintiff’s witness Ritchie Sinclair was “not impartial or objective” in his testimony because he was being sued by the defendants and many of their key witnesses, and was the subject of a criminal complaint by the defendants’ key witness Joseph McLeod.

17. The learned trial judge erred in fact by unreasonably, by double-standard, and unfairly prejudicially finding that the plaintiff’s witness Ritchie Sinclair’s admission that he had made authentication errors in the past was grounds for concluding that his accuracy at the time of trial of was suspect, especially given that he was not called upon to testify as to authenticity.

18. The learned trial judge erred in fact and law by unreasonably and incorrectly relying in the Decision upon misapprehended facts, statements of fact that do not form a part of the evidence, unsupported non-expert hearsay evidence, and documents which were never disclosed or made evidence, which facts, evidence and documents include, inter alia:
  • (a) The misapprehended fact that Norval Morrisseau had “Alzheimer’s disease”;
  • (b) The misapprehended fact that Don Robinson, the plaintiff’s expert witness, was qualified as an expert in “valuation and appraisal”;
  • (c) The misapprehended fact that due to the controversy over fake Morrisseau paintings Don Robinson is no longer a member of the Art Dealers Association of Canada;
  • (d) The document “Jack Pollock’s book” referred to in the testimony of the defendant Donna Child;
  • (e) The hearsay statements of both Donna Child and Jim White regarding the critically-important alleged statements of both David Voss and Deiter Voss as to the source of the subject painting;
  • (f) The document identified as the affidavit of Dieter Voss by both Donna Child and Jim White;
  • (g) The critically-important document identified by Jim White as Jack Pollock’s book “Letters to M”, with the statement that Norval Morrisseau was told by Pollock to sign his paintings on the back in black acrylic;
  • (h) The photographs referred to by Jim White of an alleged meeting between Norval Morrisseau and his son;
  • (i) The letter referred to by Jim White by Randy Potter allegedly stating that the subject painting came from his auction;
  • (j) The letter referred to by Jim White by David Voss allegedly identifying himself as the source of the subject painting;
  • (k) The names and reports of the “forensic expert” referred to by Joseph McLeod as having been hired by him to confirm the authenticity of the subject painting;
  • (l) The correspondence and amended lists of fakes referred to by Joseph McLeod between Norval Morrisseau’s lawyers and Mr. McLeod;
  • (m) The letter referred to by Marlow Goring allegedly sent to Gabe Vadas;
  • (n) The appraisals and forensic analysis documents referred to by Jim White;
  • (o) The misapprehended fact that 80% of the paintings Wilfred Morrisseau saw signed were signed on the back with black paint;
  • (p) The misapprehended fact that Joseph McLeod had a “lengthy association” with Norval Morrisseau.

19. The learned trial judge erred in fact and law by unreasonably and incorrectly misapprehending, repeating and relying upon in the Decision the illogical and obfuscating statement of Joseph McLeod that “forging Morrisseau paintings in the 1970’s didn’t make sense” when no such allegation of forgery was ever made by the plaintiff.

20. The learned trial judge erred in fact by unreasonably concluding the plaintiff’s expert Don Robinson was, at the time he testified, in a conflict of interest as a result of his business interests despite there being no evidence before the Court of the financial benefits that Don Robinson would derive at the time of such testimony;

21. The learned trial judge erred in fact by unreasonably emphasizing in the Decision a finding by the Tax Court of Canada that in 1996 Don Robinson had a conflict of interest, when that finding was in relation to “quality or value” instead of authenticity, and was, at the time of Don Robinson’s testimony in the case at bar, 15 years old, and made in significantly different circumstances;

22. The learned trial judge erred in fact by unreasonably emphasizing the fact that Don Robinson sells paintings by Norval Morrisseau, as evidence of a conflict of interest, while entirely ignoring the fact that the defendants and the key witnesses for the defendants, Jim White, Joseph McLeod, and Marlow Goring, all currently own and/or sell the black-drybrush paintings at the heart of the controversy in the trial;

23. The learned trial judge erred in fact by unreasonably stating, as evidence of a conflict of interest of Don Robinson, that “Potter would be seen as a significant competitor”, when there was no evidence that Potter was even in the business of selling Morrisseau paintings, or anything else, at the time that Don Robinson testified;

24. The learned trial judge erred in fact by unreasonably rejecting the expert testimony of the plaintiff’s expert Don Robinson, thereby failing to give any credence to his extremely extensive direct and scholarly knowledge of Norval Morrisseau and all aspects of his work, which knowledge was far more extensive than any witness proffered by the defendants;

25. The learned trial judge erred in fact by unreasonably misapprehending and misstating the evidence of the plaintiff’s expert Don Robinson with regard to his analysis of the visual elements of the subject painting, including the “eyes” and “colour palette” issues related thereto, and by thereby concluding that Mr. Robinson’s testimony was “confusing” and “inconsistent”, when it was neither of these things.

26. The learned trial judge erred in fact by unreasonably misapprehending and misstating the evidence of the plaintiff’s expert Don Robinson with regard to the reliability of the artist Norval Morrisseau in identifying fake paintings, and by confusing the critical concept of authentication with denial of authorship, and also the concept of authentication with silence as to authenticity.

27. The learned trial judge erred in law and fact by incorrectly and unreasonably rejecting virtually all of Don Robinson’s expert testimony on the apparent basis of a conflict of interest caused by his business’ revenues being affected by the Potter auction sales, when no evidence whatsoever as to the effect, negative or otherwise, of such revenues or sales was submitted at trial.

28. The learned trial judge erred in fact by unreasonably accepting and relying upon the testimony of the defendants’ expert witness Dr. Atul Singla, despite the extremely limited scope of his knowledge and review, his illogical and inconsistent statements regarding his level of certainty of his conclusions, his absurd statements of his own perfect and infallible skills as an expert and as a predictor of human behaviour, and the existence of Canadian jurisprudence in which he is accused of tailoring his expert evidence to fit his client’s position;

29. The learned trial judge erred in fact by failing to acknowledge, and draw conclusions from, the numerous clear lies, distortions and/or deliberate refusals to acknowledge the truth made by the defendants and the witnesses Joseph McLeod, Jim White, Marlow Goring and Dr. Atul Singla, all of which are plainly evident in their evidence;

30. The learned trial judge erred in fact and law by incorrectly and unreasonably failing to take into account and consider in relation to the causes of action at issue the numerous admissions by the defendants in their testimony that they did not disclose to the plaintiff that at the time of the sale of the subject painting they were fully aware of the significant authenticity controversy regarding the subject painting and paintings of its species, that Joseph McLeod was also the subject of such accusations and communications, and that they had been contacted by Norval Morrisseau’s lawyers and his personal caretaker with cease and desist demands and allegations of mass sales of fakes by their gallery;

31. The learned trial judge erred by giving the appearance of carelessness and indifference to critical detail when he made the unintentional finding that the signature on the back of the subject painting is that of “Wilfred Morrisseau”, when he meant to write “Norval Morrisseau”.

32. The learned trial judge erred in fact and law by unreasonably and incorrectly failing to recognize and draw a negative inference from the fact that not a single witness for the defence provided any specific explanation for where the subject painting was painted or how it was acquired by Dieter and David Voss;

33. The learned trial judge erred in fact and law by unreasonably and incorrectly by failing to recognize and draw a negative inference from the fact that neither Dieter Voss nor David Voss, the two witnesses allegedly having direct evidence supporting the defendants’ story about provenance, which story was never told until the trial itself, were called by the defence to testify or even to provide any written information, and no explanation was offered by the defence for this glaring omission;

34. The learned trial judge erred in fact and law by unreasonably and incorrectly failing to deliver a decision that carefully, comprehensively and accurately dealt with the evidence and issues in the action, especially given that the Decision was reserved for approximately 7 months.

35. The above errors of the learned trial judge, independently and in the aggregate, resulted in a substantial wrong and miscarriage of justice in this action.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Légendes Indiennes du Grand Nord Canadien (1969) Norval Morrisseau

Norval Morrisseau: Légendes Indiennes du Grand Nord Canadien
Sept 3-24 1969, Galerie Saint-Paul, Saint-Paul de Vence
Under the patronage of Eugène Bussière, Consul General in Marseille.

Midewiwin Vision Quest (1969) Norval Morrisseau

Midewiwin Vision Quest (untitled)
Norval Morrisseau 
1969 Kenora, tempera or acrylic on hide

Assiniboine Chief (ca 1975) Norval Morrisseau

Assiniboine Chief
Norval Morrisseau
c. 1975

Mormon Mu Mu (1965) Norval Morrisseau

Mormon Mu Mu
Norval Morrisseau
1965, tempera on kraft paper, 135cm x 74 cm
(Thunder Bay Art Gallery Collection)

Jesus Christ - The Saviour (1969) Norval Morrisseau

Jesus Christ - The Saviour
Norval Morrisseau
1969, acrylic on canvas board

St. Michael Slaying the Devil (1968) Norval Morrisseau

St. Michael Slaying the Devil
Norval Morrisseau
36" x 22", 1968, kraft paper

Jesus (1969) Norval Morrisseau

Jesus
Norval Morrisseau
1969

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Igniting the Spirit Within (2012) Vitality magazine


Sounding
Norval Morrisseau and Ritchie Sinclair
1979, 36" x 48", acrylic on canvas

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On Dec 4 2007 Morrisseau passed on. Four years ago, on Dec 4 2008, I stood in Federal Court and fought for my right to speak out about his work. At the time I had no idea that Norval had previously identified paintings as fakes from the inventory of the nine plaintiffs that had moved for an injunction against me and sued me for millions. In fact I didn't know of Norval's sworn Declarations about forgeries until weeks after my Federal Court appearances.

The Declarations arrived in an unmarked envelope. I was stunned (as was my lawyer). This was a spectacular occurrence. Here I was out-on-a-lonely-limb when Morrisseau himself somehow reappeared to affirm my opinions about forgeries of his work. Simultaneously his Declarations exposed the plaintiffs' pretense of indignation for what it really was. Now I (too) knew the Plaintiffs' secret. Morrisseau had informed each of them that they possessed forgeries.

Unlike the other Plaintiffs Jim White and his company, White Distribution, did not receive sworn Declarations from Morrisseau apparently because he operated without an overt sales venue, preferring to consign paintings with galleries, including those that received Declarations. Jim White was, however, informed as early as 2001 that Morrisseau had identified paintings he owned as fake.

On Jan 5 2009 I served a comprehensive affidavit on the Plaintiffs which included the Declarations. The Plaintiffs adjourned their injunction motion Sine Die (i.e. until whenever) and never returned to Superior Court to prosecute their Claim which, in and of itself, speaks volumes.

Today I appeared yet again in small claims Court to oppose a motion by the latest to sue me for "calling a spade a spade". After years of defending myself in court I often get asked, "What's in it for you?"

On the downside attempts to discredit my character are always in vogue by those with a vested interest in the paintings I maintain are fake. I'm in good company, however, because they have also discredited and legally threatened others that speak out about the issue, including Norval. The backlash may damage my reputation but I'm satisfied that I took the right road for me. A world rife with what Morrisseau called "abominations" cannot be healthy for society.

In my world fraud is uncool, having a conscience is a prerequisite, and being kind to one another is as easy as breathing. I'm doing my best to head in that direction. Of his detractors Norval would say, "Who them? I left them down the road somewhere". I like this attitude and have adopted it for myself.

On the upside, I continue to love life, painting, teaching, and from time-to-time, writing. My new article in Vitality magazine considers the upside. Read it online here or download the pdf.

 Igniting the Spirit Within 
Morrisseau’s Art Helps Us to Bridge the Infinite in the Here and Now
Ritchie Sinclair
Dec/Jan Vitality Magazine


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Read the Hearn v McLeod Superior Court Claim (2012) Norval Morrisseau Legal.com

www.NorvalMorrisseauLegal.com 
17 cases and counting...
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High DPI digital image of the subject painting
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High DPI digital image of the subject painting (verso)
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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Another Morrisseau forgery? Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies sues Toronto gallery over likely fake (2012) Ottawa Citizen

“Spirit Energy of Mother Earth”
acrylic on canvas, dated 1974, artist unknown
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Dispute over Morrisseau painting heads to court 

Member of Barenaked Ladies sues Toronto gallery
over whether artwork is a fake
 
Ottawa Citizen Nov 3 2012

 
Excerpts from the article...

Kevin Hearn, the keyboardist for the Barenaked Ladies, is suing a fine-art gallery in Toronto for selling him a Norval Morrisseau painting he believes was a “fake or forgery,” according to documents filed in a Toronto court. Hearn, who is an artist and collector as well as a member of the Canadian pop band, bought the colourful painting entitled “Spirit Energy of Mother Earth” in 2005 from the Maslak McLeod Gallery.
.................................
Hearn said he began to question the provenance of his painting in 2010, when he was a “celebrity guest curator” of a show at the Art Gallery of Ontario that included Spirit Energy of Mother Earth and other pieces from his private collection. According to the statement of claim, about a week after the show opened, the gallery removed Spirit Energy from the exhibit after The AGO’s head curator and “numerous individuals” “suggested that the painting was most likely a fake.”


 Kevin Hearn celebrates the opening of his 40-piece exhibit
at the AGO Art Rental + Sales Gallery.
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The statement of claim says that McLeod assured Hearn that “Spirit Energy of Mother Earth,” was authentic, and that his gallery was the “best and safest place” to buy a work by Morrisseau.
 ............................

“He calls allegations that there are between 800 and 1,200 fake Morrisseau paintings in circulation “preposterous."
..........................

Others, including Donald Robinson, the Toronto art dealer whose gallery represented Morrisseau for about 16 years, disagree. Robinson testified in another court case that there are many fraudulent paintings in circulation.
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Hearn’s lawsuit says that McLeod’s gallery had been “specifically prohibited by Morrisseau himself from acting as authenticators of his work on the basis that the defendants had ... allegedly been selling and authenticating large quantities of fake and/or forged Morrisseau paintings as part of a fraud scheme.”
................................... 

Art historian (Ruth) Phillips said that while she had no comment on the painting at the centre of this lawsuit, in general anyone considering buying a Morrisseau artwork should be cautious. “There’s just no question that there are a lot of fakes in circulation. People should be very careful about buying his work.” 
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(Allegations in the Hearn v McLeod lawsuit have not been proven in court)
 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wabho-wiin Shaman (1962) and the Norval Morrisseau 2012 Retrospective

Wabho-wiin Shaman
Norval Morrisseau
30" x 20", acrylic on illustration board, c. 1962
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The Missing Link is Morrisseau


When I apprenticed with Morrisseau in 1979 Norval’s art was known as “Indian Art” and First Nations people were still being called “Indians”. Today, we use terms like “medicine art” and “legend painting” to describe his work. I personally prefer the term, “Woodland Art”, though I never lose sight of the fact that ground zero is all “Indian”.

To me, as it was to Norval, to be Indian is to know Spirit. Everything else including religion and skin colour is superfluous. Norval often said that his goal was simply to “bring out the Indian-ness” that he believed was already present within each of us.

When it comes to Spirit the word “present” is especially significant. To be wholly present; attuned, aligned and trusting Spirit is to experience true freedom. Life lived sacredly in the here and now is an adventure that unfolds magically within a protective aura of love and support that only Spirit affords. Spirit is the only present we really need.

Spirit is an ever-present all pervading presence. Those who know Spirit become grounded in authenticity. They enjoy life, such as it is, in their Garden of Eden. To wander off into yesterday or tomorrow without present cause is to leave the garden. To leave behind communing with Spirit to contemplate bi-polarities like good and evil or heaven and hell is to leave paradise for spiritual poverty. One soon learns that there’s no place like home. Norval taught me, by example, that a truly sacred life will always supersede guilt, which cuts the connection. He also taught that elitism undermines genuine empowerment and that only by “standing under” issues do we discover real understanding.

The ancestors understood Spirit, and through Spirit they knew the natural universe. When compelled, Shaman artists would evoke nature’s forces to assist with aligning energies. Their rock painting evocations have endured many centuries of weathering and survived the cruel purging of the North American Indian culture. The petroglyphs are graphic indicators of Spirit’s intent; in the moment and for the moment. Whether they depict demigods, animals, man-made objects or hieroglyphs; petroglyphs are all channels to empower one in Spirit.

In his early years as an artist, Morrisseau stood under many petroglyphs. Exploring the Great Lakes region with his friend, Selwyn Dewdney, he studied the petroglyphs in the purity of their natural environment. The glyphs provided him with the seeds of a symbolic language whose lost meaning he would be destined to intuit, develop and reveal. The result is that Morrisseau’s magnificent art reignites the sacred Spirit within and inspires one to bridge the infinite and eternal in the here and now.

Mythical Thunderbird
Norval Morrisseau
Acrylic on canvas, 1967, 
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The Kinsman Robinson Galleries in Yorkville have quietly been staging an awe-inspiring exhibition of Morrisseau art covering five decades of his work. I took it in prior to its September 15th opening but hope to return for another dose before it moves on. Do yourself the same favour. We all need supplements now and then!