Gascards ordered to pay $465,000 in art fraud case

  • One of Leon Golub's paintings. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, December 04, 2018 4:56PM

A former Franklin Pierce University professor and her son have been ordered to pay $465,000 to an art collector after selling him 17 forged paintings.

Lorettann and Nikolas Gascard were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud by a federal jury on Thursday after a three-day trial at the United States District Court, court documents say. 

Additionally, the jury found Nikolas Gascard guilty of fraud. 

Plaintiff Andrew Hall filed a lawsuit against the Gascards in September 2016.

Hall, who built a career in oil trading and hedge fund management began collecting works of Leon Golub in 2003. Hall had acquired around 40 of Golub’s works by 2009. 

Hall alleged that Lorettann – a former director of the FPU’s art gallery and art history professor – and her adult son Nikolas sold two dozen counterfeit Leon Golub paintings to him between September 2009 and October 2011. 

Hall first began purchasing the Gascard paintings through auction houses – which were said to be “acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.” By 2011, Hall bagan purchasing paintings directly through the Gascards. 

Hall first became aware that the paintings were fakes after preparing an art exhibit in November 2014. 

Through his art foundation, Hall planned an exhibit of his Golub collection – which at that point totaled over 60 paintings.

Hall would contact the Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts to confirm dates, titled and other information about the paintings. The foundation raised red flags about all of the works acquired through the Gascards. 

In the fall of 2017, John Bird – an emeritus professor of art and critical theory at Middlesex University in London who had studied Golub’s works for over three decades – examined all the paintings, opining that they were fake. 

In a 37-page report, Bird said he found none of Golub’s signature qualities and characteristics in the paintings.

Bird argued that none of the paintings had Golub’s “deliberate awkwardness” and understanding of anatomical principles and expression of posture. The paintings also did not utilize a scraping technique found in many of Golub’s works. 

Bird said he had also never heard Golub bring up the Gascards during their interactions. 

The Gascards, however, said in depositions in August 2017 that they had discovered rolls of Golub paintings back in 2005 when they were cleaning out Lorettann’s sister-in-law’s apartment in Germany in 2005. Court documents also say the Gascards had acquired some of the paintings due to Lorettann being a former friends and a student of Golub’s back in the 1960s. 

Nikolas admitted that he made up many of the titles and years of creation for the paintings in question. 

After settling claims with two auction houses, Hall continued to pursue the lawsuit regarding the 16 paintings purchased directly from the Gascards and one purchased through Artnet – which was on consignment from the Gascards. 

Hall originally 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 – but only the fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud claims made it to the trial after the others were either dismissed or granted summary judgment.