Some claims dismissed in counterfeit art case

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, August 01, 2018 5:38PM

Three of the six claims advanced against a New Hampshire woman and her son accused of selling nearly $700,000 in counterfeit paintings will go to trial in October.

U.S. District Judge Steven J. McAuliffe said in an order filed July 27 that two of the claims – breach of contract and unfair and deceptive trades practices in violation of New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act – have been dismissed.

Additionally, McAuliffe concluded the Gascards are entitled to summary judgment on a claim of breach of warranty. McAuliffe ordered that plaintiff Andrew Hall’s warranty claim is untimely under the state’s Uniform Commercial Code as his claim – while viable under the UCC – was filed more than four years after he purchased the paintings.

Hall filed a lawsuit at the U.S. District Court, New Hampshire in September 2016. The lawsuit 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 September 2009 and October 2011. Some of the paintings were sold through auction houses, while others were direct sales.

Hall first became aware that the paintings were forgeries when he was preparing an art exhibit in November 2014.

“They were all high-quality forgeries – sufficient to fool even sophisticated art houses (e.g., Sotheby’s and Christie’s), as well as he (alleged) artist’s own son, Stephen Golub,” McAuliffe wrote.

The order said Hall has since settled claims against the two auction houses. What remain a part of Hall’s claims are 16 paintings purchased directly from the Gascards and one purchased from Artnet, which was on consignment from the Gascards. The total value of the 17 paintings is about $468,000.

“In short, the Gascards seem to be suggesting that they are as shocked as anyone that all the works they sold to Hall (as well as various other purchasers) over the years, for hundreds of thousands of dollars, are forgeries,” McAuliffe wrote. “… the Gascards have not pointed to any evidence suggesting that the paintings are authentic. At best, they might claim to have ‘assumed’ they were genuine works by Golub.”

The breach of contract claim was dismissed as Hall indicated in a previously filed document that he was withdrawing the claim. The deceptive trade practices claim was dismissed because Hall said in a prior document that he “does not oppose dismissal” of the claim.

Hall’s claims of fraud, conspiracy to defraud, and unjust enrichment still remain for trial. Jury selection and the trial is currently scheduled for a two week period beginning on Oct. 16.

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