Florida Art Gallery Sues Over Fake Basquiat Paintings: Here Is What You Need To Know

Florida Art Gallery Sues Over Fake Basquiat Paintings: Here Is What You Need To Know

An art gallery in central Florida that was raided by the FBI last year over an exhibit of paintings that later turned out to be forgeries by Jean-Michel Basquiat has sued its former executive director and others, alleging they were involved in a conspiracy to make money from the ultimate sale of the false art.

Florida Art Gallery Sues Over Fake Basquiat Paintings: Here Is What You Need To Know

The Orlando Museum of Art sued former CEO Aaron De Groft and others it claims were involved in the scam on Monday in state court, demanding unspecified damages for fraud, breach of contract, and conspiracy.

The 99-year-old museum, also known as OMA, has a damaged reputation as a result of which the American Alliance of Museums placed it on probation, according to the lawsuit.

“OMA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars — and unwittingly staked its reputation — on exhibiting the now admittedly fake paintings,” the lawsuit said. “Consequently, cleaning up the aftermath created by the defendants has cost OMA even more.”

Basquiat, who was born and raised in New York City, achieved fame during the Neo-expressionist movement in the 1980s. The more than two dozen pieces of art that were allegedly discovered in an abandoned storage locker decades after Basquiat’s death from a drug overdose in 1988 were first shown at the Orlando Museum of Art.

Soon after the alleged discovery of the artworks in 2012, doubts regarding their validity arose. According to the FBI warrant from the museum raid, the artwork was allegedly created in 1982, although experts have noted that at least one of the pieces used cardboard with FedEx typography that wasn’t introduced until 1994, or roughly six years after Basquiat’s death.

The art was subsequently discovered in a storage locker owned by television writer Thad Mumford, who also admitted to investigators that he had never owned any Basquiat artwork and that the pieces had not been present when he had previously been there. 2018. Mumford passed away.

In April, Michael Barzman, a former Los Angeles auctioneer, pleaded guilty to federal charges of making false statements to the FBI. He acknowledged that he and a companion had produced the phoney art and had falsely claimed that the paintings were by Basquiat.

At the time of the display last year, De Groft had adamantly maintained that the artwork was authentic. An attorney for De Groft wasn’t listed on the Orlando court record.

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