NBCUniversal chairman Ron Meyer is suing two art dealers for $10 million in damages over the sale of a painting he says is a "total forgery."
California-based art dealer Jamie Frankfort in 2001 introduced Meyer to New York dealer Susan Seidel. She sold him a "Mark Rothko" that Meyer says he was informed was signed, purchased directly from the artist by the sellers, and to be included in the catalogue raisonne of Mark Rothko's works.
After the painting hung for 20 years in his home, Meyer is now claiming fraud and breach of contract over the sale. He paid $900,000 for the painting, plus a $45,000 commission to Seidel, who he is suing along with her company, Frankfort and five other individuals.
"In January 2019, plaintiff learned for the first time that, contrary to the representations of Seidel, known to and approved by Frankfort, the Painting is not, in any part, the work of Rothko, but is a total forgery, that it has essentially no value at all, that it had never been accepted for inclusion in the Rothko Catalogue Raisonné and that it had never been owned, possessed, signed or even seen by Rothko or acquired from Rothko by the seller or the seller’s family or anyone else," writes attorney Bertram Fields in the complaint. "Had defendants’ representations been true, as plaintiff reasonably believed until January 2019, the present value of the Painting would be at least $10 million. Since the Painting is not genuine, it has virtually no value and never will."
While a connection is not shown in the claim, the case recalls the Knoedler scandal, settled last year, that included a fake Rothko sold to a collector for $5.5 million.