Former FPU professor and her son: Paintings were attic finds

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, November 01, 2017 6:7PM

A former Franklin Pierce University professor and her son have revealed more details about how they acquired nearly $700,000 in paintings which are currently at the center of a federal lawsuit with the buyer claiming they are counterfeits. 

Lorettann and Nikolas Gascard say they had discovered rolls of Leon Golub paintings in Germany back in 2005 when they were going through and cleaning out Lorettann’s sister-in-law’s apartment after she died, according to depositions they provided on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2. Court documents also say the Gascards had also acquired some of the paintings as Lorettann was a student and subsequently a friend of Golub back in the 1960s. 

“We opened the closet and there were these rolls of paintings… lo and behold, there were the paintings that I had given to my husband with other paintings as Golubs,” read one of the depositions provided by Lorettann. 

The Gascards also said in their dispositions that they have not found any documentation evidencing payment or the name or creation of any of the works. 

A lawsuit, filed by art collector Andrew Hall at the U.S. District Court, New Hampshire last September, alleges 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 claims that he was preparing an exhibit on his Golub collection in November 2014 when he reached out to the estate of Leon Golub to confirm the dates and titles of the work exhibited. It was at that time that red flags were raised about the works acquired from the Gascards. 

Golub was an artist, activist, writer, and teacher who specialized in expressive figurative paintings. His work was featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He died in 2004. 

Hall has called upon Professor John Bird of Middlesex University as his expert witness in the case. Bird is “the world’s leading authority on the works of Leon Golub,” according to court documents filed by Hall. 

Bird has already seen a number of images of the allegedly counterfeited works and is currently finalizing a report on his findings. 

Hall has advanced six claims against the Gascards: 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. 

The Gascards have filed to have the lawsuit dismissed, but a federal judge ruled to only dismiss part of one claim: the plaintiffs common law breach of warranty claim. 

Hall initially sought 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 as he has reached settlements with two auction companies. 

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