For years the art world has been rivited by the questions surrounding an unearthed cache of Abstract Expressionist paintings and drawings. The works took in a total of $80 million. Then, earlier this month, a federal investigation revealed they had all been faked.
The most prominent figure at the center of this scandal has been Ann Freedman. As the president of Knoedler & Company, she sold forty of the works, totaling $63 million. As news of the forgery broke, I sat down with her for a series of exclusive interviews with New York Magazine. “I am as shocked as everybody, more shocked, as I am the central victim,” she told me.
“They were very credible in so many respects,” says Freedman. “I had the best conservation studio examine them. One of the Rothkos had a Sgroi stretcher. He made the stretchers for Rothko. They clearly had the right materials. I got a consensus. Some of the paintings were featured on museum walls,” she continued. “The Rothko went to the Beyeler [Foundation], and the Newman went to Guggenheim Bilbao for the tenth anniversary exhibition. The most knowledgeable in the art establishment gave me no reason to doubt the paintings.”