Norval Morrisseau knew it was fake. To make it clear to Artworld of Sherway in 2004 Norval swore a legal declaration that included a photo of this painting (and others). He also sent legal letters to warn them. Eight years later Artworld continues to offer the public their purported Morrisseau paintings.
Kudos to writer James Adams and the Globe and Mail newspaper for showing journalistic integrity in the face of adversity. The Globe were sued in 2007 for writing an article on this very issue (Michael Moniz v CTV Globemedia Publishing Inc.) yet this claim, settled in 2009 for an undisclosed amount, hasn't deterred the Globe from doing what they do best.
Mr. Moniz, the plaintiff in that action, is apparently a taxi driver with no affiliation to Morrisseau. He acquired dozens of purported Morrisseau paintings through a Mr. Potter who himself attests to having sold approximately 2000 of these paintings through his auction venues. Another Potter purchaser is a Mr. Jim White who consigned at least 80 of his paintings with Artworld of Sherway, including the Hatfield painting. In a 2008 Superior Court affidavit Jim White states that he personally owned at least 250 of the 1000+ images exhibited as fakes on Morrisseau.com. Who are these people?
Ms. Hatfield wisely purchased her painting from a reputable gallery, Artworld of Sherway, with annual sales of 1000-2000 artworks from a stable of 20-odd artists. Artworld director Donna Child testified that 15 years of selling Morrisseau art resulted in sales of only 100/110 Morrisseau paintings (a low estimate). Of these 25-30 were sold on or near February 25th 2005; the period when Ms. Hatfield purchased her discredited artwork. If Artworld's underpinning concern has been that other purchasers may as well seek a refund then perhaps the last thing Artworld Inc. should have done was "make a federal case out of it".
On June 4 2012, the day of a full moon eclipse, the Hatfield v Sherway trial ended. I had the honour of being the last witness of the day. This after investment collector, "Kevin Cott", appraiser, "Joe McLeod", gallery owner, "Marlowe Goring", signature expert, "Dr. Singla" and distributor, "Jim White" had their moment to "tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth". Morrisseau expert, "Don Robinson", plaintiff, "Margaret Hatfield", defendant, "Donna Child", Norval's brother, "Wolf Morrisseau" and I had testified on previous trial dates but today was a final opportunity for the defence to really pull out their big bazookas.
We've all been subject to an elaborate lie cooked up by a family member, lover, friend, schoolmate or co-worker. Its almost as embarrassing to expose a lie as it is to be the one exposed for concocting it. When two or more are "telling the tall tale" it can be quite the task to unmask it. Usually the culprit(s) will feign ignorance until cornered into over-reactive tantrums and indignation.
Indignant rage expressing itself as an over-reaction is a $17 Million S.L.A.P.P. lawsuit filed against any Woodland artist (further evidenced by the fact that the plaintiffs abandoned pursuing their action years ago).
Indignant rage expressing itself as an over-reaction is Artworld choosing not to provide a dignified client with a refund on a tainted purchase when reasonably requested, but instead choosing to drag their client through an expensive trial that appears to have been forced upon her for other purposes.
Indignant rage expressing itself as an over-reaction is Artworld choosing to hire Brian Shiller, a high-priced ($500 per hour?) lawyer and partner in the Ruby Shiller law firm, to defend a small claims action brought by a retired school teacher who simply wanted a refund on a defective product and was refused.
On September 25 2012 Justice Martial will rule on the basis of five days of trial testimony, dozens of exhibits, and final written submissions penned by Jonathan Sommer for the plaintiff and Brian Shiller for the defendants.
In dividing the wheat from the chaff, these summations and this Court's Judgment will stand next to Don Robinson's Expert Reports and Norval Morrisseau's Statutory Declarations as noteworthy documentation to publicly and permanently reveal authenticity while exposing its contrast. A significant human being's authentic legacy that is a tremendous gift to us all will live on.
In defence witness testimony the seething anger directed at Don Robinson, Gabe Vadas, myself and others for turning off the faucet pales in comparison to the disrespect they aim at their goldmine, Norval Morrisseau. They should be deeply ashamed of themselves. Greed is monstrous in all its forms.
Ms. Hatfield sought truth, faced it, stood up for it and testified to it. I'm thrilled for her. What a display of courage and compassion. There is no feeling quite like integrity vindicated. It is priceless. I wish her the very best this summer climaxed by a fruitful harvest come autumn. She is so deserving.