A Hilton Head Island couple have settled their lawsuit with a New York art gallery, after an $8.3 million painting they bought was revealed to be a fake, the New York Times reports.
Domenico and Eleanore De Sole sued Knoedler & Company and its former director and president, Ann Freedman, in 2012 after they unwittingly purchased a phony Mark Rothko painting, according to the New York Times. The settlement comes just as the gallery’s former owner and its president were preparing to testify in Federal District Court.
I got a fake painting for $8.3 million and I want my money back.
Domenico De Sole
The trial lasted for 12 days and the terms of the settlement were not revealed. The De Soles’ suit sought damages of $25 million, according to court records.
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A settlement was reached between the De Soles and Freedman on Sunday, according to The New York Times. Terms of that settlement were also not been disclosed.
De Sole, the chairman of Tom Ford International, and his wife, Eleanore, hung the painting in their beachfront Sea Pines home, the New York Post reported.
“I got a fake painting for $8.3 million and I want my money back,” Domenico De Sole has said during testimony, according to Artnet News.
In 2011, the purported Rothko work — “Untitled, 1956” — was revealed to be one of dozens of fake paintings created by a Chinese painter in Queens, Pei-Shen Qian, that sold for over $80 million from 1994 to 2009. Press reports on the forged paintings put the number between 30 and 60 works claimed to be by famous artists such as Rothko and Jackson Pollock.
The forgeries were given to Knoedler by Long Island-based art dealer Glafira Rosales, who claimed the paintings were from the estate of a Swiss businessman, according to the Post.
Knoedler & Company, which was founded in 1846, announced it would fold soon after the fake paintings came to light.
Rosales pleaded guilty to federal money laundering, wire fraud and tax evasion charges in 2013, but has not been sentenced. Rosales’s boyfriend, who steered her toward Qian after meeting the artist selling canvases on the street in Spain, was arrested in Seville on fraud charges in 2014. Qian fled to China soon after the fraud was discovered, the Post wrote.