Appeals denied in art fraud case

  • court/crime

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A United States District judge has denied all but one motion to dismiss from a Rindge woman and her son, who have been accused of of selling him almost $700,000 in counterfeit paintings, according to court documents. 

In an order filed Monday, Judge Steven J. McAuliffe wrote that of the six claims filed by Plaintiff Andrew Hall, only part of one claim – the plaintiff’s common law breach of warranty claim – will be dismissed, per the request of defendants Lorettann and Nikolas Gascard. 

Hall filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court, New Hampshire in September, alleging that Lorettann Gascard, a former art history professor at FPU and director of the university’s art gallery, and her adult son Nikolas, sold 24 counterfeit Leon Golub paintings to Hall between Sept. 23, 2009 and October 2011. Hall, a well-known art collector, has built a career in oil trading and hedge fund management.

In total, Hall advanced six claims: fraud, conspiracy to defraud, breach of common law and statutory warranties, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act.

Hall was initially seeking compensation of no less than $676,250 – the purchase price of the works, plus compensation for attorney’s fees and costs expended in discovering that the paintings were forged, but will now seek less.

Hall has told the court that he has reached settlements with the two auction companies, according to McAuliffe’s order, will his sale cancelled through one and a “substantial but not complete” refund from the other. Hall will now seek damages to the extent of the money not returned from one of the auction companies. 

In January, the Gascards – representing themselves – filed a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety, submitting a 25 page memorandum of law supporting their motion.

Little was known of the Gascards’ whereabouts until they filed the motion. Lorettann had previously been living in Rindge, while Nikolas was living in Peterborough. Police were unable to find either at their listed addresses, with the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office eventually tracking the two down at a Keene address to serve them a summons. 

Hall’s attorneys, Ted Poretz and Samantha D. Elliot, filed a response to the Gascard’s motion to dismiss in February, saying that the Gascards denied nothing in their motion, instead asserting “a kitchen-sink litany of defenses.”

Questions surrounding the paintings’ validity came in November 2014 when the Hall Art Foundation, an organization founded by Hall and his wife Christine, began to plan an exhibit of his Golub collection, which totaled over 60 paintings.

A trial between Hall and the Gascards has been set for the two-week period beginning in March 20, 2018. The court has established a schedule of other court dates, including the filing of pretrial statements and objections, leading up to the trial.

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.