Thursday August 11, 2016

Why Peter Doig must go to court to prove this painting isn't his

A painting, allegedly painted by renowned artist Peter Doig, is shown in this undated handout photo.

A painting, allegedly painted by renowned artist Peter Doig, is shown in this undated handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Listen 16:22

Retired correctional officer Robert Fletcher says he bought a painting from Peter Doig in 1975 — long before the now-famous artist was raking in millions for his work. 

The only problem? Doig insists he had nothing to do with the painting. 

Now the artist is being sued by the alleged patron, who insists he bought the painting — a stark desert scene — from Doig himself, decades ago in Thunder Bay.

The two are facing off in a bizarre trial unfolding in Chicago this week.

Today guest host Jelena Adzic explores the layers of this strange story with fine arts observer Hrag Vartanian. The case raises big questions about art, authenticity and who to believe in this battle over brushstrokes.

Peter Doig

Artist Peter Doig is an internationally known Scottish painter. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

WEB EXTRA | We asked for comment from both sides of the Peter Doig court case. Read what they had to say below. 

Robert Fletcher via his lawyer, William F. Zieske, "I have spoken with Mr. Fletcher, who told me this evening that seeing Mr. Doig and viewing his expressions each day in the courtroom, he has never been more confident that he is the man he knew and encouraged to be an artist nearly forty years ago in Thunder Bay. Plaintiffs' case is proceeding very well at trial, as it has for the last three years during which Mr. Doig's large team of lawyers has lost every motion, one after another, by which they have attempted to defeat the evidence amassed against Mr. Doig's denials and avoid this trial. The denial of Mr. Doig's summary judgement motion earlier this year shows that the Court has not only found insufficient evidence that the deceased carpenter, Peter Edward Doige, painted the work in dispute, but also that plaintiffs have found more than enough evidence to support their claims."


The famous artist Peter Doig, ""After four years of this lawsuit, plaintiffs have not presented a shred of evidence that I created the painting and instead, we found and conclusively identified the real author of the painting, a deceased man named Pete Doige.  Apart from the personal injustice of this case, it has bigger implications: most artists lack the resources to defend against attempts to bully them into acknowledging works not of their creation as their own by unscrupulous plaintiffs willing to abuse the US legal system.  As a UK citizen, it baffles me that the US Court has allowed these opportunists' to pursue this senseless litigation."