The Conspiracy Theorists Lose Court Case Round #6 – “CT Proxy #4” Hatfield v Child – (Note: This was written before the judgement & is unrevised.)
The Perils of Internet Dating…
Prepping the Gullible Proxy
Judge Morgan Warning About Donald Robinson
The Secret Life of Mr. Smith AKA Robinson, Corporate Spy…
The Preposterous Mr. Robinson
Who stole the Missing $40 Million Dollars in Paintings…?
Hatfield v Child is the longest court case – five days over two years – that dealt with allegations of Morrisseau forgeries. The last testimony was given in June 2012; the judge has refused to dignify the allegations of forgery with a finding, or rule the subject painting a forgery, as of April 2013.
In 2011, the sixth Morrisseau-related court case came about when the Conspiracy Theorists convinced a little old lady, retired school teacher, Margaret Hatfield, to sue Artworld of Sherway, a highly reputable fine art gallery, for allegedly selling her a Morrisseau forgery called “Wheel of Life 1979,” in 2005.
This was now the fourth time (are you keeping count? – Norval, Ross, Browne… now Hatfield) that the Conspiracy Theorists decided to work through a naïvely trusting and/or helpless proxy, and get them to pay for the lawyers. Nice…
In fact – if you can believe this – Dr. Jonathan Browne, the dung beetle doctor, AKA CT Proxy #3, and fresh from his spectacular failure to have “Grandfather Speaks of Great Ansistral Warrior 1977” declared a forgery, as he was prompted to do by the Conspiracy Theorists (in Court Case #4: Browne v Bugera), decided to have another go as a Morrisseau authenticator.
Jonathan Browne, AKA “the Dung Beetle Doctor,” AKA Proxy #3, who lost a wonderful painting when he called a genuine Morrisseau a fake, and passed a little old lady school teacher straight into the arms of the Conspiracy Theorists. The experience has set her back some $40,000 in legal fees. Will he help bail her out with a donation?
The Perils of Internet Dating – He actually introduced Ms Hatfield, whom he’d met on an “internet date,” when she came upon his “Morrisseau Buyers Beware” website, to some of the same members of the group who had “advised him” so well two years before. He assured her they could do the same for her…
She became CT Proxy #4; others say, she became the second victim of elder abuse in this story.
But it is hard to feel sorry – impossible is a better word – for this first time fine art collector, because she – exactly like Browne before her – refused to do due diligence with independent experts, preferring instead, to swallow, and then repeat, a lot of utter nonsense from a few Conspiracy Theorists, they’d picked up on the internet…
And for allowing herself to be so easily manipulated by conniving collaborators, and involving herself in the destruction of genuine art by Morrisseau, and by association, that of other Canadian Aboriginal artists.
After all, all by herself, she got things off to a rousing start, when she testified, in one of the most idiotic statements – and that is saying something – to come out of the Plaintiff’s side:
“… I knew I was looking at something that I could not ignore because here was an artist saying, “I did not paint these paintings” and he is calling out, you know… he’s calling out as saying, “These are not by my hand” and I knew…
“Now why would an artist deny what he had produced? Why would an artist turn against the work of his hand, and… the quote from Isaiah came to my mind at the time, ‘And does a mother forget her baby or a woman the child within her womb? Yes, even if these forget I will not forget. I have carved you in the palm of my hand’ and that is the quotation from that hymn that went through my mind. I thought the artistic process is certainly the equivalent of giving birth. Why would Norval Morrisseau turn against his own work and say, “I did not paint this”? (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: May 31, 2011 p 13)
In fact, the very well known historical truth is that Norval was probably – my call – the worst Deadbeat Dad in Canadian History. And I am restrained, considering what else I know. (Much more on this to come.)
But, in short, what is incontrovertible is that two months before he died Norval completely disowned every association with every one of his children in a formal document. When he died his family went on the record in the media to state that their Dad had left them not a painting, not a property, not a bank account, not a cent…
Nothing… zip… nada… In a note supposedly signed with his own dying hand on Oct. 3, 2007.
So there, Ms. Hatfield! And your Biblical quote… And knowledge of Norval…
So to invert Ms. Hatfield’s metaphorical malaprop, if a Father could so completely disregard the most fundamental moral and ethical standards of our society – that, according to Ms Hatfield, no parent would do; or Judas deny Christ – and in fact, like Norval for decades, repeatedly abuse, ignore, abandon, and finally formally disown his own flesh and blood, how can anyone possibly believe his sudden truthful signature on a simple forgery allegation document?
A document that could, with his simple signature, help make him, or his “manager” Gabe Vadas, a ton of money, at a time he was utterly vulnerable as a poverty-stricken invalid, and feared being tossed on to the street as an indigent…
The Don and Ritchie Show Performance #2 – Ms. Hatfield recruited the same two Conspiracy Theorists, Donald Robinson and Ritchie Sinclair – or they recruited her? – who had performed as the unsuccessful tag-team against Joseph Otavnik in his Otavnik v Sinclair case in 2010.
They joined forces again – hopefully better prepared with a more successful act – for the second time, to try to supply the elderly lady with proof of her alleged forgery. They were her only witnesses, getting the retired old teacher to fight their fight for their Conspiracy Theory, but by spending her own paltry pension money to do it.
Nice… And not small potatoes either; at the end of the trial her legal bill would total some $30-40,000 and counting…
Naïve Proxies are great for the Conspiracy Theorists, because, in gullibly becoming puppets they can be inveigled into believing, and repeating on cue, on trust alone, absolutely outrageous invented stuff of which they have absolutely no knowledge.
Prepping “Conspiracy Theory Proxy” #3 – Ms Margaret Hatfield – Sinclair and Robinson had clearly done a job, beforehand, on prepping the naïve elderly lady, which became clear when an overly polite Defence Counsel, Robert Dowhan, asked if she had done due diligence with the people who had authenticated “Wheel of Life 1979.”
He was referring to the most experienced Morrisseau expert of all, Joe McLeod, of Toronto’s esteemed Maslak McLeod Gallery. McLeod had been involved personally with Norval Morrisseau and his art since 1960, remains close to Norval’s children over 50 years later, and had signed one of the two Certificates of Appraisal for “Wheel of Life 1979.”
Ms. Hatfield, visibly and vocally, bristled instantly, under questioning by Dowhan.
“Q. And do you know that Mr. McLeod is an expert on Morrisseau art?
A. Yes, I understand that he has been recognized as an expert on Morrisseau art.
Q. So you have a certificate from a… recognized expert…
A. Yes, I do.
Q. …and you don’t even call him to inquire as to what the…
A. No, I don’t. (She barked this out – my call from 15 feet away.)
Q. …issues are? Okay.
A. I definitely don’t.” (Court Transcripts: May 31, 2011 p 32)
Ms Hatfield testily snapped before Deputy Judge Paul J Martial, that she had good reason to not do due diligence with the people who had originally authenticated her art.
“I had found out from Mr. Sinclair that Mr. McLeod was involved in the forgery as well as in their distribution. I certainly did not contact him.” (Court Transcripts: May 31, 2011 p 32)
It’s called “massaging a gullible proxy.”
Informed observers would say that Sinclair openly lied to the elderly lady, to clearly try to mislead her, into his way of thinking and promote his well-known malicious agenda against over 1,000 Morrisseau paintings, 99% of which he has never seen or examined.
Many saw this is a clear case of elder abuse, to manipulate a gullible and vulnerable older person who trusted him totally, and was willing to go to court with her money to advance his own long-standing personal vendetta against McLeod in particular, and his fellow Morrisseau dealers generally.
TRIAL HIGHLIGHT #1: The Expert Witness Fiasco
Introduction to the Debate
An expert witness in a court is supposed to be a cut above the other witnesses, an above-the-fray expert, whom the judge can rely on to give untainted, uncompromised, and reliable, usually technical kinds of information. He is supposed to be an arm’s length expert, independent of both Plaintiffs and Defendants.
The Hatfield Plaintiffs, knowing they had a whole slew of top witnesses testifying against them, intended to elevate one of their own two, Donald Robinson, to expert witness status, and so hope to give them a leg up on the competition.
For transparently obvious reasons, knowledgeable observers in the public gallery, as well as the Defence, were opposed to Robinson being given “expert witness” status, because he clearly did not qualify on any level for that special status.
Demonstrably, he had a well-known reputation in the media, and demonstrated in other trials, that:
– he was a passionate partisan in the matters before the court,
– he had spent six months preparing an “expert report,” for free, to supposedly prove that the painting, “Wheel of Life 1979,” which he was defaming, was a forgery,
– he was an aggressive business competitor of the Defendant,
– he had personal, family, and business financial interests in promoting his family-owned and operated Kinsman Robinson Galleries, and the Morrisseau paintings they wanted to sell,
– he had millions of dollars at stake in the outcome of the trial,
– he was involved in initiating in 2001 the first declaration of forgery, and expanding, from 2003 to 2005, a Canada-wide attack with his business associates, who were sending out numerous Declarations and Affidavits of Forgery to his business competitors, the other leading sellers of Morrisseau paintings, accusing them of knowingly selling fakes,
– he was long involved in making and spreading in the media and to academics, wildly unsubstantiated charges about thousands of forgeries by umpteen forgers, not a single one of which he had ever produced a single piece of independently verifiable proof for,
– he scoffed and sneered at the Canadian forensic science community, saying they were only doing it for money. That he alone acted from pure motives…
Others might say Robinson was acting according to MBA 101: manipulate supply and demand in the market place, by trying to convince the public that all your competitor’s paintings are fakes, and only yours are reliable and genuine; and knock out the competition by destroying the competitor’s reputation.
Quite obviously the only alternative, for getting market share, would have been to improve the quality and amount of their own product line. But with an artist in huge physical and mental decline after c 1994, that was not an option they could pursue, unless they could get some sub-contract painters to straighten out his wobbly and shaky lines, and extend his wheelchair restricted sketch sized panels to wall-sized behemoths…
The Expert Witness Fiasco – A Blast from the Past 1996
Justice Morgan’s Warning Haunts the Martial Court
Judge Paul Martial granted “expert witness” status to Donald Robinson, solely because he had appeared in a tax court case – Whent v Canada 1996 – many years before. Robinson became involved in a tax case where the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) had protested the unwarranted and extremely high valuations on donated Morrisseau art claimed and deducted by the Whent group of lawyers. (Details from Whent v Canada 1996)
The Whent group of lawyers from Thunder Bay, ON, had paid $130,000 for 216 Morrisseau paintings. The CRA said that should be the value of the donation. The lawyers protested and brought in Donald Robinson to make a “fair market evaluation” of their art.
Clearly, as the prime – he kept claiming the exclusive – seller for genuine Morrisseau paintings, he saw a wonderful opportunity to jack up the overall market value for Morrisseaus, in this public venue, and did so. He cited “market research,” valuations from the early 1980s, and a 1990 price list, as the base for his high valuations of their collection.
The Principal Morrisseau Dealer, assessed the lawyers’ collection as worth $1,104,795 (1.1 million dollars). Up from $130,000 that they had paid.
The Canada Revenue Agency howled, with Robinson multiplying the original purchased values by a whopping 900%.
Justice Morgan heard the case and sought out the middle ground.
In doing so he roundly criticized Donald Robinson for betraying “a hopeless conflict of interest.”
Justice Morgan, on the basis of his own investigation, objected strongly to the validity of Robinson’s claim to be a fair evaluator of Morrisseaus, finding that “the cornerstone of his appraisal is seriously damaged.”
Judge Morgan scathingly criticized Robinson’s methodology, by saying his valuations for a supposed “market price list,” ostensibly based on dealer prices in 1984, 1985, and 1986 was “not proven” at all.
In fact, Justice Morgan complained he could not even find the existence of even one dealer in those years, which Robinson claimed was his basis for his price list. Far from it, Justice Morgan said, that the evidence he actually did find, was totally against Robinson. “In other words, the assumption underlying Mr. Robinson’s use of the 1990 price list has not been proven.”
It’s a judge’s way of saying Robinson just made it up; he cooked the books. He was self-serving.
In fact under a rather testy cross-examination by Defence Counsel Dowhan in the Hatfield case, in 2011, Robinson essentially agreed he had cooked the books that way, snapping defensively, that the price list he used was solely based on 1990s KRG invoices. He had used only his own documents; he had used only his own price structure.
So, exactly as Justice Morgan had complained, in 1996, far from producing a supposed arms-length price list for Judge Morgan’s Tax Court hearing, of what all the dealers in the market said Morrisseaus were worth, Robinson had in fact, fabricated a price list of what he and his gallery wanted the Morrisseaus to be worth.
Justice Morgan clearly objected to that kind of idea of Robinson’s “fair market evaluation.”
Wrote Justice Morgan: “Mr. Robinson’s close association with Morrisseau is… a liability in the sense that he has a hopeless conflict of interest in trying to be objective about the quality or value of Morrisseau’s work when he is currently the exclusive distributor for Morrisseau’s new works in Ontario.”
Justice Morgan hugely rejected Robinson’s 1.1 million dollar evaluation, cut it virtually in half, and established a fair market value, for tax exemption at $660,000.
Defence counsel Robert Dowhan said Justice Morgan’s strong finding that Donald Robinson had “a hopeless conflict of interest in trying to be objective about the quality or value of Morrisseau’s work,” alone, should disqualify him, utterly, from being an “expert witness” in the Hatfield case.
Furthermore, in the Whent v Canada case Robinson – testifying for the Plaintiff – was not even a business competitor of the Government of Canada.
Unlike in Hatfield where he was now, a known and a clear and passionate opponent and business competitor of the Defendant, and where Robinson clearly had a huge personal, family, and business financial stake in the outcome of the trial.
Obviously huge conflicts of interest, that gave every indication that he would benefit hugely by trying to skew the outcome of this trial.
Appearing as an expert witness in Hatfield would be a huge advantage to Robinson who was clearly worried his business competitors were undermining the prices and values of the paintings he had for sale in his gallery. And for which he claimed to have once been the exclusive distributor.
TRIAL HIGHLIGHT #2: The Expert Witness Fiasco: Deputy Judge Martial’s Gamble
In a move that stunned observers in the public galleries, and despite loud protests from two Defence Lawyers at different times, who objected, tellingly, “with respect,” Judge Martial granted Donald Robinson status as an “expert witness.”
He fully accepted Judge Morgan’s finding that Robinson “had a hopeless conflict of interest” but said he would be mindful of that and would watch out for evidence of Robinson’s clear bias and weigh his testimony with that in mind.
In effect Deputy Judge Martial as much as said he would take, at face value, Robinson’s claim that altruism was his motivation for being a participant in the trial.
Judge Martial was, without doubt, the only person in the entire courtroom who believed that. Plaintiffs and Defendants both, as well as the Public Gallery.
I am absolutely certain that not even Donald Robinson, himself, who is nothing if not an aggressive and astute businessman, believed that he was some kind of Mother Teresa in a suit…
Expert witnesses in Canadian courts are supposed to be neutral in the disputes in which they are brought in to help the judge make a fair and honest determination of Right and Wrong. They are not supposed to be ferocious and passionate partisans, in the matters before the court, which Robinson clearly has repeatedly demonstrated himself to be.
Furthermore expert witnesses are not supposed to be financially involved, or able to wring financial advantages for themselves with their testimony.
If he could manage to defame the painting Artworld of Sherway had sold, and Donna Child’s reputation – which he admitted, in testimony, was his aim – he could remove a major business competitor and her paintings from the market place. Robinson’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries would benefit by hundreds of thousands of dollars by knocking her off.
With his testimony he shocked people in the courtroom when he suddenly dropped his pretence of being a supposedly neutral, “above-it-all” witness and aimed several vitriolic broadsides at Defendant Donna Child of Artworld, one of his main business competitors.
“Q. And do you believe that the actions of Artworld of Sherway along with Jim White, who was the consignor of the painting, amount to some form of fraudulent scheme?
A. I certainly do.
Q. And you believe that Donna Child is involved in that fraudulent scheme?
A. Yes.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 23, 2012 – p 4)
“Q. You’ll therefore of course agree that if the Court finds that Artworld of Sherway has sold a fake or imitation Morrisseau to Ms. Hatfield it will impact on their reputation, won’t it?
A. On whose reputation?
Q. On Artworld of Sherway, Donna Child.
A. I would think it should.” (He snapped it out – my characterization from 15 feet away.)
(Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 23, 2012 – p 13)
These totally uncalled for partisan outbursts, from an “expert witness,” clearly intended as a malicious and snappish retort, betraying his personal anger at a business competitor, took everyone in court – including I assume Judge Martial – aback. Not exactly the behaviour or the expressions one would expect from a dispassionate “expert witness.”
It would be only one of many egregious Robinson testimonial gaffes and aggressive outbursts that told Deputy Judge Martial that his trust in Robinson’s “altruism” as the reasons for his testimony was very badly betrayed.
How many times did Judge Martial hugely regret setting aside Justice Morgan’s clear warning, in his 1996 finding, in the Whent v Canada case, of Robinson having a “hopeless conflict of interest?”
I looked up to see Judge Martial’s eyes, at this moment of high court drama…
His eyes were down; he was writing something. Perhaps something like, “Lord help get me out of this mess I’ve put myself into…”
Whatever else Robinson’s outburst demonstrated, it was clearly a part of the Conspiracy Theorists orchestrated campaign that the Morrisseau cartel decided to unleash on Artworld of Sherway.
TRIAL HIGHLIGHT #3: The Conspiracy Theorists Mount their Attack Part 1
The trial exposed for the very first time to the Canadian public, exactly how the Conspiracy Theorists created, and initiated their ingenious business plan alleging “thousands of forgeries by umpteen forgers.”
The man who formulated, implemented, and publicized it: Donald Robinson.
The place it originated: the backroom of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
The time: May 2001.
The first victim: Jim White
The first defamed painting: “Wheel of Life 1979” owned by Jim White, and bought four years later, by Margaret Hatfield.
In fact Hatfield’s “Wheel of Life 1979” was involved in the very first Declaration of Forgery ever issued by the Conspiracy Theorists during the years 2001-2006, when they sent accusations of forgery and Affidavits of Forgery to many of Canada’s top business competitors of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries. (We have documentary proof of at least 11 such business offensives.)
The court testimony unveiled, for all Canadians, exactly how the white business managers surrounding Norval’s wheelchair during the years of his physical and mental decline, launched co-ordinated and multi-level attacks against their business competitors with allegations of forgery.
Donald Robinson Initiates the Accusations of Forgery – The groundwork for these corporate aggressions had been laid in 2001, when Donald Robinson announced in the National Post, on May 18, 2001 – with the help of a compliant journalist, who ignored his own research – that there were many hundreds of forgeries made by umpteen forgers “out there.”
News Flash – Remember at this time, April 2001, there was no talk of any kind, of Morrisseau fakes in any newspaper anywhere. Morrisseau fakes were not the subject of any public debate anywhere; Morrisseau fakes did not exist in the media. The matter had never been raised by Donald Robinson or anyone else. In short: Morrisseau forgeries were a non-issue; they did not exist.
It was in this totally uncontentious atmosphere, that Jim White, a reputable fine art dealer, practicing due diligence, testified that as a normal business procedure, he approached Donald Robinson, as Principal Morrisseau Dealer, to appraise 23 paintings for him. Robinson agreed.
White had obtained most of them at Randy Potter auctions. (See Great Canadian Cultural Heroes: Randy Potter & Donna Shea)
A New Business Tactic – In May 2001, Donald Robinson initiated an entirely new business tactic when, instead of an Appraisal form, for which he had been asked, he issued, instead, a Declaration of Forgery to Jim White. (who would, some years later, be the consignee of “Wheel of Life 1979” to Artworld of Sherway, where Margaret Hatfield bought it.)
White testified in court, with a firm voice, and in a convincingly powerful and direct manner, that was in stark contrast to the often uncertain, halting, and repeatedly forgetful “don’t recall” plaintively bleated out excuses offered up by Donald Robinson under cross-examination by Defendant Counsel Brian Schiller.
White testified that in late March 2001:
– he delivered 23 Morrisseau original paintings to Robinson for “evaluation,”
– that Robinson initially lavishly praised them as wonderful Morrisseaus and recommended that White better have them well insured,
– that Robinson later claimed he had then sent photos of them to Morrisseau,
– that a letter accompanied them, curiously providing only a single box option to the artist, to call them all fakes, and another box to call them all genuine,
– that there was a delay of a couple of weeks,
– that Robinson then claimed Morrisseau called them ALL fakes,
– that without permission, Robinson had published pictures of White’s private paintings, as his illustrations of forgeries, in a National Post article of May 18, 2001,
– that Robinson had defamed his paintings in a national newspaper and undermined his reputation.
And so the whole thing about forgeries, and affidavits of forgeries began, in the back room of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries of Toronto, ON, at the end of March 2001.
Donald Robinson Initiates the Forgery Declarations – And in this way the Robinson Declaration of Forgery – the very first ever, Morrisseau declaration of forgery ever issued – was born.
This White semi-official Declaration of Forgery of 2001 would soon be upgraded to become formal Affidavits of Forgery during 2003-2005, and sent mostly to Donald Robinson’s major Toronto business competitors.
White’s testimony established, conclusively, for all time, that Donald Robinson himself – as an adjunct to his business operations – initiated the era of sending out warning documents listing and alleging dozens of Morrisseau forgeries, to his business competitors.
White’s testimony also established, conclusively, for all time, that Donald Robinson had brought Norval and Vadas into the loop of his Declaration of Forgery, and that Robinson was in on the ground floor of orchestrating the whole business initiative, which over the years 2003-2005 would expand to become seven Affidavits of Forgery attacking seven of Robinson’s main business competitors with selling some two hundred forgeries.
A line in a warning letter sent, in 2005, to Artworld of Sherway, by Aaron Milrad on behalf of Norval Morrisseau, shows in spades why Donald Robinson AKA the Principal Morrisseau Dealer, would insist on being involved at every level, of any and all cartel business planning initiatives that dealt with allegations of forgeries leveled against his business competitors.
“The sale of these fakes are damaging to our client, his (Morrisseau’s) reputation, his market and his copyright and intellectual property rights.” (Aaron Milrad, Feb 25, 2005.)
When pressed by Robert Dowhan, who had seen incriminating documents, proving Robinson’s complicity in orchestrating it all, Robinson swore in testimony, he was not involved in any way, in the Affidavits of Forgery from 2003-2005.
Not involved, he swore, in spite of the seminal role he was proven to have played in saying Morrisseau called Jim White’s 23 paintings forgeries and sending pictures to the National Post.
Not involved, he swore, in spite of the fact that the Affidavit of Forgery drawn up by Aaron Milrad on Feb 25, 2005, and sent to Artworld of Sherway, was c.c.’d to only three people in the entire world: Morrisseau – who was, let’s admit it, a vegetable in a terminal care facility, Gabe Vadas, Norval’s business manager and Power of Attorney, and Donald Robinson.
Let’s make that to the only two mentally functioning people in the entire world, and one was Robinson…
Donald Robinson and the Cartel Launch a Full Scale Assault on the Business Competitors of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries
In 2003, two years after Robinson initiated the Declaration of Forgery against White, the cartel began issuing formal Affidavits of Forgery to Donald Robinson’s main business competitor, Joe McLeod of the Maslak McLeod Gallery.
In 2005, the cartel launched a full assault, with all guns blazing, specifically aimed at Artworld of Sherway, and Jim White, two more of Kinsman Robinson Galleries Toronto area “neighbours.”
The Hatfield Trial of 2011-2012 provided a wonderful insight into how all the partners in the business attack against Artworld of Sherway coordinated their campaign against the gallery seen as the biggest threat to Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
In February 2005, Artworld had placed ads for their Morrisseaus on the CBC television program, “Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau.”
The ads got Ms. Hatfield to come calling and buy “Wheel of Life 1974.”
But the ads also attracted a tidal wave of multi-level assaults from the business associates of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
The Many Conspiracy Theorist Offensives Against Artworld of Sherway
– Corporate Espionage & Surveillance of the Artworld premises was taken up by “Mr. Smith,” AKA “Principal Morrisseau Dealer,” AKA “Hatfield Expert Witness,” AKA “Principal Conspiracy Theorist,” and sometimes, AKA Donald Robinson.
Unmasking Mr. Smith the Imposter – In a surreal moment, in court, Ms. Child unveiled evidence which confirmed to onlookers that she had obviously been the victim of a clear case of corporate espionage, sometime in late 2004, or early 2005, when Donald Robinson appeared at her gallery, he thought in total anonymity, posing as a prospective buyer, to look over the Morrisseaus she had for sale.
She recognized Donald Robinson instantly – he has put himself in the public eye so much everyone in the Morrisseau community does, and she had also seen him in his gallery – so she chatted him up, and then, out of curiosity, just “to see what he would say,” she asked him his name.
“Mr. Smith,” was his reply, showing an inventive genius every bit as original and true as his flaunted Conspiracy Theory.
Mr. Smith clearly considered that corporate espionage and courtroom attacks were important steps towards removing some 2,000 other BDP paintings similar to “Wheel” which he also claimed were forgeries, from competing with his Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
As Mr. Smith he had “cased her joint;” now as Donald Robinson, he sat as a hostile “expert witness” in court to administer the “coup de grace,” to her business, and to her reputation in the Canadian fine art community.
Because he knew, in doing so, he stood to gain, not thousands, but millions…
Not at all a bad return, for “Mr. Smith,” for indulging in a little corporate espionage, for testifying as an “expert witness,” and spending six months preparing his so-called “expert report.”
It is something Justice Morgan had foretold and forewarned about, way back in 1996, during the Canada v Whent tax court case, about Donald Robinson and his “hopeless conflict of interest in being objective.”
Then, Robinson had fabricated a self-serving market price list. Now, a decade later, this had morphed into spending six months to fabricate a huge report that sought to prove to the court – not now, as Mr. Smith, but in his guise as an expert witness – that his major business competitor was a crook and knowingly selling forgeries.
And which now came back to haunt Deputy Judge Paul Martial who – in spite of common sense, the objections of Defence counsel, and the astonishment of the public gallery – had chosen to gamble and trust on Robinson’s integrity as an arm’s length witness.
– Threatening Affidavits of Forgery (copies only) were sent (allegedly sent Sept 17, 2004 – Donna Child said she only received them in April 2005) faxed by Gabe Vadas, the business manager.
An analysis of these Affidavits of Forgery exposed them as being so totally shot through with so many inaccuracies, falsehoods, contradictions, absolutely wrong data, and containing numerous paintings that were later ruled as genuine, with DNA certainty, by three of the top Canadian independent forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, that they easily win my prize as the most fraudulent historical documents I have seen in 46 years as a professional historian.” (SEE McLeod, et al. v Sinclair)
This is merely a personal finding; it DOES NOT, of course, disqualify them as normal business promotional and propaganda fliers.
– Website Defamation by publishing scores of Artworld paintings as fakes, was assigned to the control of Robinson acolyte, business associate, and repeat court witness partner, Ritchie Sinclair, who was forced to admit, on the stand, that he was only a community college drop-out, testifying that he had quit after several months of a yearlong, dead end course which would have, ”Qualified me to do typeset; set-up; advertising; letter-set; very basic things that nobody uses anymore.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p 124)
It explains Robinson’s curt retort when Defence Counsel Brian Schiller asked Robinson a question about Sinclair. Was he a member of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, as he went around claiming on some court documents?
“MR. SCHILLER: Q. Is Ritchie Sinclair a member of that society?
A. No. The Society has respected academic people in the, in their, in their grouping; people from galleries, national institutions, for the most part.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 23, 2012 p 46)
– Expert Art Analysis Report was assigned to Donald Robinson, he being the only one in the group with electrical engineering credentials.
– Defamatory Media Advisories of personal documents (sent Sep 17, 2004) by Clark R Purves, lawyer, to Peter Goddard, Toronto Star.
– Threatening Cease & Desist Letter sent (letter Feb 25, 2005) by Aaron Milrad, the lawyer.
Milrad carelessly addressed this threatening letter, twice to a “Donna Kay,” and “Dear Ms. Kay,” when no such person exists. Worry, attention, or care as to accuracy, in any of their documents has never been a strong suit among the Conspiracy Theorists.
In a parallel moment, of rare humour, the Plaintiff’s lawyer John Sommer spent half an hour – it must have cost Ms Hatfield some $500 – just to cross-examine Donna Child sternly for each and every typo in the Artworld Statement of Defence. She observed the illiteracies Sommer pointed out, had not been prepared by her, but her lawyer…
– Intimidating Emails sent by Aaron Milrad, the lawyer.
– Intimidating Phone Call Feb 25, 2005, was made by Michele Vadas, then wife (now estranged wife) of Norval’s business manager.
TRIAL HIGHLIGHT #4: The Conspiracy Theorists Mount an Attack Part 2: The BDPs (1970s style, black drybrush signed, titled & dated on the back)
Before Deputy Judge Paul Martial, Donald Robinson claimed: “In twenty-eight years of dealing in Morrisseau’s art, I observed that Norval had rarely written anything on the back of any canvas, but when he did, it was always in pencil or ballpoint pen – never in black paint.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: May 31, 2011 p 32)
“And never ever have I ever seen one, nor have I ever known anybody to know one that has – was painted in – in black paint in the back.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child Sep 1, 2011 p33) (Glossary: BDP)
Robinson’s claims were strongly opposed in court by testimony and affidavits of numerous independent witnesses – Norval’s family & intimates, friends, gallery owners, collectors – who strongly questioned why Robinson would possibly say something so utterly preposterous and false.
At different times and places they swore they saw Norval sign, title, and date the backs of many of his canvases, with black paint, in exactly the way Robinson claims the artist “never ever” did.
Of course Robinson was not on the scene, and had never seen Norval paint in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s.
Those who had, including some five members of Norval’s own family who independently wrote on an Affidavit that what Robinson now claimed before Judge Martial was a categorical “lie.”
Wolf Morrisseau, Norval’s younger brother, who ran Norval’s business affairs in the 1970s, in his most prolific period, when all the BDPs like “Wheel,” which Robinson said were forgeries, were painted, told Judge Martial, that he, in fact, had told Norval to sign and title his canvases, in English, exactly like “Wheel,” to help boost international sales for his syllabic signed art.
As well, three other longtime dealers and collectors of Morrisseau art, Robert Scott of Vancouver, Deiter Voss of Thunder Bay, and Marlowe Goring of Qualicum Beach, BC, submitted sworn affidavits saying they each had seen Norval sign and title the back of his paintings with black drybrush technique, multiple times, in Vancouver, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay.
“They are all lying, absolutely” – When Defence Counsel Robert Dowhan reminded Robinson about the sworn testimony of so many people saying they have seen Norval signing BDPs:
“Q. … “there are one, two, three, four, five, six individuals that say they witnessed Norval Morrisseau sign paintings on the back in black acrylic paint with a brush.
Q. They’re all lying?
A. They are all lying, absolutely. They’re complicit in this whole scheme.
Q. All right.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child Sep 1, 2011 p24)
It is worth noting that the BDP signing, all on 1970s style paintings, which Robinson so stridently denounced as forged, took place some 15 to 20 years before he even became one of Norval’s dealers, so his possible ignorance on this file, long before he came on the scene, is understandable.
In fact in 2012, he testified before Judge Martial that he was a relative dunce in authenticating Morrisseaus as late as in 2000, in spite of having, by then, been at it for 18 years, admitting:
“…if you rate the knowledge I have now at 100 and what I would’ve had back then it’d be probably 10-20 or something like that…” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 23, 2012 p 18)
Ouchhh…! Frankly, not very good credentials for the Principal Morrisseau Dealer as an art authenticater. Comparable actually, to a pilot with 18 years experience who can only promise a safe landing 10% of the time. Or a surgeon doing a vasectomy who can only snip accurately 10% of the time; the other 90% of the time he cuts off the patient’s testicles by mistake.
It can happen when your art expert brandishes a P.Eng. as his best academic credential for art authentication. Canadians are truly grateful that Robinson never became a surgeon… but chose to confine his many mistakes in art, and to the patrons of his gallery.
“Q. So is it your evidence that, basically, in 1999 you weren’t an expert on Morrisseau at all?
A. I wouldn’t say – yes, I think that’s pretty fair statement as to this point in time.”
(Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 23, 2012 p 32)
His clearly admitted ignorance of Norval’s signing practices in the 1970s, may be a defence of sorts in 1999-2000.
The Preposterous Mr. Robinson AKA Mr. Smith – Maintaining the fiction of BDPs as forgeries, in 2012, against numerous witnesses from all walks of life, and a growing mountain of scientific forensic proof, without a single dissenting finding, is an unforgivable breach of trust, of common sense, and is indefensible on any ground by anyone. Except, perhaps, by close family members.
And raises the question: why would someone claim something so preposterous?
Does that mean his motives have fraudulent intentions?
And more tellingly: faced with such a mountain of contrary evidence from a wide variety of sworn testimony, and independent scientific experts, why would he, not only continue with his Conspiracy Theory, but expand it by fabricating his own huge so-called “expert report?”
With his personal preconceptions, as Principal Conspiracy Theorist, so rock solidly held, it was totally predictable what his six month investigation and his “expert report” of “Wheel” would show, long before he began his so-called evaluation to see if “Wheel of Life 1979” was genuine.
Is this another echo of Justice Morgan’s finding that Donald Robinson had a “hopeless conflict of interest in trying to be objective” as the Principal Morrisseau Dealer?
Trial Highlight #5: Conspiracy Theorists Mount an Attack Part 3: The Expert Report
Once again, in the back rooms of his Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Donald Robinson fabricated an elaborate, and huge, 89 page “expert report,” calling “Wheel of Life 1979” a forgery. (Like he had so unsuccessfully done for “Jesuit Preist Brings Word 1974” the year before in Otavnik v Sinclair.)
Again, he worked for six months for free, preparing his “expert report” as a “public service”…
Those Academic Credentials – When published, the report gave his “proof” that “Wheel” was a forgery.
His report did not explain how his three year degree in electrical engineering qualified him to engage in advanced forensic document examination and handwriting analysis, when the Canadian Government and the RCMP use only people with advanced and highly specialized degrees, like M.A.s and Ph.D.s in forensics – not electricians – to do that kind of work for them.
In fact, Donald Robinson has no relevant credentials of any kind: no degree, no certificate, no diploma, not in art, or fine art, not in forensics, not in handwriting analysis, not even in any related fields; his most relevant certification: a B.Sc., a three year degree in electrical engineering.
And a P.Eng, which is simply “a license to practice engineering,” which is on a parallel with a bicycle license allowing you the right to ride a bike on the streets, or a dog license, which allows a pet to poop in a park.
Though Robinson’s other degree, an MBA, would clearly have advised him that relying on third party experts to write scientific reports is not, ever, a good idea, if you want documents that will help promote your business objectives. That the results are far more reliable, and usable, if instead, you write the “expert reports” yourself. Advice Robinson clearly decided to take.
Small wonder then, and absolutely no surprise to anyone that, in the end, Robinson’s findings on “Wheel” were completely, and categorically discounted in their entirety, by Dr. Atul K Singla, who has an M.A. and a Ph.D., both in Forensic Science, whose forensic and handwriting analysis credentials are second to none in Canada, and who has testified in over 500 court cases.
Singla testifed as a genuine “expert witness” who has no financial interest in the Morrisseaus, and has no personal, family, or business involvement in buying or selling paintings like those involved in the case in which he was testifying. And has no interest in either promoting or destroying the reputation of Donna Child or her Artworld of Sherway business, or the reputation or livelihood of Ms. Hatfield.
He couldn’t be more free of every level of taint Justice Morgan had, long ago, leveled at Robinson, and his “hopeless conflict of interest in trying to be objective.”
On Aug 24, 2010, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Dr. Atul K Singla, found that the painting “Wheel of Life 1979” which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists, including Donald Robinson and Ritchie Sinclair, as a forgery, in fact, had been signed with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
So much for the “Don and Ritchie Show.”
And so much for so-called 89 page “expert report” produced by an electrician…or, is it by an astute businessman?
TRIAL HIGHLIGHT #5: The Bombshell in the Courtroom that – almost – everyone missed…
Part 1 – Those KR-384 Blank Backed Paintings
While going into overdrive, to convince Judge Martial that Norval “never ever” signed the back of any paintings, as appeared on “Wheel” and all the other BDPs Robinson claimed were forgeries, he inadvertently dropped a bombshell he no doubt wishes he had not – and has probably regretted doing ever since.
He blurted out to Judge Martial that he had personally taken possession of a huge hoard of Norval’s paintings in 2002, and claimed aggressively (my call in watching him from fifteen feet away) that not a single one of them had been signed in 1970s BDP style. Not one…
He testified he had personally logged them into his gallery as KR-0 to KR-384, (for Kinsman Robinson) reiterating, “again, not a single one of these paintings had any writing on the back in black paint or in brush and black paint.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child Sep 1, 2011 p33)
And to point out this fact – clearly hoping to impugn “Wheel,” which did have writing on the back, in the judge’s eyes – he said he confirmed this again, when he personally checked the back of each painting, seven years later, when he sent them back to Gabe Vadas, in 2009, two years after Norval died.
Perhaps this testimonial foray might impress Judge Martial whose background in art was practically non-existent – one of the very few questions he ever asked was “What is a stretcher?”
But it would only offer comic relief to anyone else knowledgeable in the Canadian fine art community.
Firstly, Robinson was falsely positing an argument no one else was contesting, at all. No one had ever disagreed in the slightest, that during the time Robinson represented Norval, that he had never had Norval sign his paintings in the customary style that Norval had used in the past.
Critics said, hey, obviously, if you have an artist who is declining rapidly, physically and mentally, as a painter, as Norval was, by the early 1990s, why would you possibly have him – let alone a proxy, you know to help out! – sign the back of any painting?
Any MBA will tell you it’s nothing short of suicide…
Making Mincemeat of Morrisseaus – Canada’s top independent forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts would have taken one look at the signature DNA and found that the handwriting is clearly forged.
If forensics proved Norval did not write the signature, then the devastating conclusion would be disastrous for the Principal Morrisseau Dealer – Norval did not paint the other side either.
The valuations of hundreds of paintings could be destroyed this way. Just by having a proxy help out Norval by writing a less shaky signature on new art.
Furthermore, what good would it possibly be to have a genuine, but wobbly, signature from the artist’s “Wheelchair Invalid Period” on the back, and a nice, controlled stable image on the front?
Now what kind of questions would that raise?
It made total sense, then, that having a failing artist on his hands, Robinson would discontinue a practice which could only undermine the paintings he was selling, and question them as possibly being from the hand of Norval Morrisseau.
And so explains completely why KR-0 – KR-384 are blank, on the back.
Any course in MBA 101 will tell you it’s a good protective business practice.
But it’s a totally bogus argument that the signing protocol Robinson enforced during his term as Principal Morrisseau Dealer from the 1990s on – namely no signing – had any bearing whatsoever, on what Norval’s practice was, years before Robinson even came on the scene.
And more precisely during the very years Robinson admitted before Judge Martial that he was a bid of a dunce as a Morrisseau expert; in fact “not an expert at all,” as he admitted to Defence Counsel Robert Dowhan.
Reading backwards in history, and imposing modern standards, practices, or mores, on past eras, is not a legitimate academic pursuit, though it can produce effective comedy, and Robinson clearly hoped, might make an effective business argument.
And reminds us again of Justice Morgan pointing out, in 1996, Robinson’s “hopeless conflict of interest in trying to be objective” in everything he does as Principal Morrisseau Dealer.
TRIAL HIGHLIGHT #6: The Bombshell in the Courtroom that everyone missed…
Part 2 – “The Missing Transcripts”
The real story of KR-0 to KR-384, which slipped out inadvertently, as Robinson had all eyes in court focus on the blank backs of paintings, was that the artist’s Principal Morrisseau Dealer, had made a deal with Gabe Vadas and had secretly stashed away 384 of the artist’s best paintings in his Toronto storage facility, and kept them there, from 2002, for seven long years, until 2009, long after the artist had died.
As Robinson, said in passing, for “safekeeping.”
I knew instantly, that this was utterly huge; but everyone else missed it…
Partly because the public gallery was virtually empty, and neither journalists nor lawyers are all that familiar or interested in the details of the story, and the intricacies of all the conniving that has surrounded the Morrisseau Conspiracy Theory.
And there were others who wanted to hide it.
When, in practicing “due diligence,” as a professional historian, and an investigative journalist, I went through the supposedly “complete transcripts” provided by the court clerk, I found crucial testimony I had noted in my detailed notes, missing.
Like the story of the KR-384s.
It became clear that the Plaintiffs, when ordering transcripts, chose to hide embarrassing or compromising testimony by not having damaging parts transcribed. Hoping they would just go away and be lost.
Having sat in court during all the testimony, I knew it existed, and so launched the hunt to save the missing transcripts from the trash heap of history.
The court clerk, who prides herself on the accuracy of her work, said she was “intrigued,” to be told that her transcripts in Hatfield v Child were incomplete, that things were “missed.” She eagerly went hunting and reported triumphantly that she found the missing parts and ordered them transcribed.
The bombshell KR-0 – KR-384 was among them.
It was clearly one story the Conspiracy Theorists didn’t want to get out. Alas, Robinson, in his passion to destroy the BDPs in Judge Martial’s eyes, inadvertently let the cat out of the bag. And sent us hunting for the transcripts.
After all, it dealt with tens of millions of dollars of “once was lost but now am found,” Morrisseau paintings.
TRIAL HIGHLIGHT #7:
Part 3: “Safekeeping” – The Sordid Saga Behind the KR-384s
Morrisseau, as every Canadian knows, died destitute, leaving not a nickel to his own children, not a painting, not a bank account, not a property, not a cent, to any of them…
Nothing… nix… nada…, as family members repeatedly reported to the media after his death.
And as his caretaker and Power of Attorney Gabe Vadas, also brashly told the media…
Not quite… thanks to Donald Robinson blurting out an utterly astonishing fact, in a moment of absent-mindedness, while forgetting himself and trying to make a strong point in an unrelated matter.
Robinson let it out that he had agreed to store the hundreds of paintings for Norval’s business manager, Gabor Vadas, and protect them from theft, in 2002, or for “safekeeping” as he repeatedly reminded the judge.
By repeatedly emphasizing “safekeeping” Robinson seemed to intimate, to Deputy Judge Paul Martial that he was, once again, being a Good Samaritan – or Mother Teresa in a suit if you prefer – and protecting Norval’s artistic heritage from predation by, apparently, a lot of lowlife thieves that seemed to be running amok, at the time, in Nanaimo, BC.
In fact what did not come out in court because everyone missed the story, was what exactly was the background that led to the deal between Vadas and Robinson over the KR-384 in 2002.
In fact at the time Vadas was involved in a vitriolic wrangle with the Morrisseau family over who should control Norval – and of course his paintings. Vadas had successfully evaded a Morrisseau family kidnap squad in 1999, by successfully hiding Morrisseau where no one could find him.
In fact the family kidnap squad arrived at one place Norval had been hidden, to find the scene littered with evidence that showed they had missed Norval by mere moments in time. With Norval successfully spirited away, by the Conspiracy Theorists, the family kidnappers gave up and went home to northern Ontario.
But by 2001 Vadas had finally concluded that, physically and mentally, Norval was no longer manageable, and so placed him in a terminal care facility, in Nanaimo, BC.
Panic struck Vadas and the Conspiracy Theorists, when, suddenly Norval’s family showed up in Nanaimo, and grabbed Norval from the terminal care facility, removing him from Vadas’ control, and taking him to Thunder Bay. (Norval would be under their care for many months, from late December 2001, into the late summer or fall of 2002.)
This was a salutary lesson to Vadas that by December 2001, the Morrisseau family and their lawyers were on the march to take possession of their father and brother, and to try to secure his assets through the courts.
Vadas was panicking; the family had successfully grabbed Norval in his wheelchair; would a pre-emptive strike on his hundreds of paintings be next?
In panic he was clearly looking for a partner to hide the paintings from Norval’s family and its lawyers – not, at all, from lowlife thieves in Nanaimo…
He found that partner in Donald Robinson who – like everyone else at the time – suspected that Norval could die any moment, and that Vadas, who had Power of Attorney and was the sole beneficiary in Norval’s will, would become the owner of his hundreds of valuable original paintings.
All of which, we assume, the Principal Morrisseau Dealer would have loved to have for sale at his gallery.
384 paintings with a value of from a minimum of $20 million to $40 million or more…
With the standard 50% gallery commission for retailing the paintings, say $10 to $20 million, is nothing to sneeze at.
This seems to be exactly the period when Robinson agreed – who knows, he may even have suggested the option to Vadas? – to ship the paintings to him in Toronto, for “safekeeping,” and where he ended up keeping them – for some seven years – till after Norval died.
TRIAL HIGHLIGHT #8: The Poverty-Stricken Millionaire
Did Norval know he owned $20 million to $40 million in paintings? That he was a multi-millionaire?
Did he know hundreds of his paintings were, suddenly, in far away Toronto, stashed in the basement of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries? Where only two people knew that they were there: Gabe Vadas and Donald Robinson.
In 2003, after the millions of dollars in paintings were stashed at KRG in Toronto, John Geddes of Maclean’s Magazine, “interviewed” Norval and Gabe (you know, just like with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy you never knew who was doing the talking) in Nanaimo. He reported that Norval had only one complaint, that he wishes he had a few dollars so he could afford to buy paint and canvas and do a little painting now and then…
Geddes saw it as a plaintiff cry from an artist who at the time clearly regarded himself as a penniless street kid back on poverty row. At least Norval’s caretakers seemed to have gotten Norval to believe that. Perhaps to make him more compliant to their wishes in guiding his business career, and to promote the sale of his 1990s “Wheelchair Invalid Period” style paintings…
Norval’s sad cri de coeur, about being the “proverbial starving artist,” and being totally cash poor, clearly showed that he had no idea he had a minimum of $20 million he could draw on, in the KRG dungeon in Toronto. (Geddes was, of course, like everyone else, also not aware of the secret stash either.)
But Vadas and Robinson both knew, there was $20 million plus, in the kitty.
At the end Norval had no friends who were not entirely self-serving, and only interested in the money they could make from his paintings.
In fact, at a previous trial Donald Robinson, the Principal Morrisseau Dealer, admitted he had not even attended the crowning national event in Norval Morrisseau’s life, the 2006 National Gallery of Canada Morrisseau Retrospective, it’s first ever on an Aboriginal artist, in Canadian history.
Was this his tacit admission that Norval’s mind was so far gone by then that the artist wouldn’t have known if Robinson – or anyone else – was there or not?
Cooking the Books – Part 2 – Additions
In 2005, Donald Robinson re-issued his “Travels to the House of Invention,” as “Return to the House of Invention,” with 99% of the text unchanged. In his basement, at the time, as we learned from his testimony in Hatfield v Child, he had some $20 million to $40 million of Norval’s paintings. So the .05% of the text he chose to change is fascinating.
A couple of the ultra-rare lines he added to “Return,” were his praise extolling the important role that Gabe Vadas played in Norval’s life. Something he had not added in the 1997 original edition of exactly the same book, when Gabe had been Norval’s companion and caregiver for over 10 years already.
“Together, they enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship. ‘He saved my life. I needed a father; he accepted me as a son,’ Gabe said. ‘Norval has done a lot for me.’ Now married Gabe and Michelle (sic) have enriched Norval’s life with two new grandchildren. Norval dotes on the grandchildren, and many of his recent paintings portray them.” (Robinson “Return”)
The Grade 6 graduate from Powell River BC, would no doubt, now be grateful to see his name, his wife’s – even though it was misspelled – and his family praised in lights in a book for the first time in his life. But why the unique and rare textual addition now?
The answer: any MBA will teach you – the sudden appearance, in 2002, of KR-384s that were in the basement as Robinson wrote the encomium to Gabe. Would he not clearly love to become the Principal Morrisseau Dealer for them?
Let’s see now: what’s a standard 50% Canadian fine art gallery commission on $50 million?
Cooking the Books – Part 3 – Omissions
A couple of lines that Robinson did not add, are just as interesting.
There was not a single line, not even a word, about Ritchie Sinclair, the man who would become his acolyte, business associate, and his tag-team partner, in various court cases from 2008 on. Not a sentence; not a phrase; not a word on his importance on any level as a Morrisseau anything… Nothing… zip… nada…
On the man who claimed he was the designated heir to Norval’s school of painting, who claimed to be the designated “Protégé” of Norval Morrisseau, who wrote it a thousand times on his website, and never wrote his own name without coupling it with that of Morrisseau.
Clearly, and tellingly, in 2005, Robinson, the Principal Morrisseau Dealer, didn’t believe a word of it… And so, like every other pundit in the Morrisseau world ignored the white Indian imposter/impersonator and his pretend place in history.
Alas, history evolves, and necessity is the mother of… making strange bedfellows. In 2012 Robinson and Sinclair had evolved into becoming tag team partners as witnesses in the Hatfield case. So Robinson was extremely loathe to admit the embarrassing omission in two of his Morrisseau books in court. He had seen a need to add Vadas, but not Sinclair.
Unlike his wheelchair bound, invalid painter, whom nobody ever heard testify or be interviewed on audio tape or video tape during the last decade of his life, but who – according to Robinson’s insistence – had total recall, and an infallible memory that could unfailingly remember every one of the 10,000 paintings he had ever painted over 50 years, Robinson’s memory was, throughout the trial, notoriously noteworthy of missing tons of data he just could not recall.
A very typical response betraying Robinson’s flawed and failing memory was when Defence Lawyer Schiller asked him if Ritchie Sinclair (Robinson’s acolyte, business associate, and now, for the second time his court witness partner) was mentioned in his Travels (1997) and Return (2005) books.
“Q. Okay. Now, you wrote two books on Mr. Morrisseau; correct?
Q. Is Ritchie Sinclair mentioned in either of those books?
A. I’m sorry; did he….
Q. Is Ritchie Sinclair mentioned in either of those books?
A. I don’t remember. I don’t; I mean, certainly not in a major way; perhaps not at all; I, I don’t remember; perhaps in the acknowledgements; probably not at all.
Q. Probably not at all?
A. I don’t remember it. They were written several years ago.
Q. One is in ’89; one is in ’05; correct?
A. Probably, yes.”
(Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 23, 2012 p 6)
The Real Story of Behind “Safekeeping” the KR-384
By investigating the history around the secret stash of paintings, it becomes clear that this so-called innocent Robinson act of “safekeeping,” holding the paintings for seven years at his gallery, was not what he made out to Judge Martial, some kind of philanthropic act.
Far from shielding them from lowlife thieves in Nanaimo, it was a hard-core business move, a covert act to keep $20 to 40 million dollars out of the hands of Morrisseau family members and their lawyers.
And to win brownie points with the man who would control them. And a possible sales commission worth millions. Robinson clearly intended to be transformed from Principal Morrisseau Dealer to the Principal Vadas Dealer.
Then sometime in 2009, having successfully, totally stone-walled the Morrisseau children and their lawyers, for seven years, and with Norval safely dead, Robinson returned the paintings to a probably most grateful Gabe Vadas.
Donald Robinson did not disclose how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in storage fees KRG charged for the “safekeeping” of 384 paintings for seven years, if any.
Or whether – his MBA would have told him to hold out for this – he did it in exchange for a future guaranteed “distribution deal” for the “$40 million” worth of paintings.
Or was it just out of the kindness of his heart – more Mother Teresa in a suit…?
Robinson’s testimony as an expert witness was, obviously, hopelessly compromised by the fact that he, as the Principal Morrisseau Dealer – and he alone – would get to sell those paintings, making tens of millions in the process. Thanks to having helped Vadas successfully hide 384 of his Morrisseau paintings from the Morrisseau family and their lawyers.
So it also made perfect sense, for Robinson, as a smart business operator, to show up, voluntarily, and write a free expert report, to present in court for Hatfield v Child, and to attack one of his main business competitors and try to ruin her reputation.
And remind us again of Justice Morgan, warning us in 1996, by pointing out Robinson’s “hopeless conflict of interest in trying to be objective” in everything he does as Principal Morrisseau Dealer.
The Sinclair Kiss of Death – Donald Robinson’s tag-team partner, Ritchie Sinclair, made an equally unimpressive presentation on the stand.
Sinclair proceeded to amaze everyone in court by his wildly erratic behavior on the stand. His opening line to the court, “I am a fine artist.”
During breaks he repeatedly went up to offer documents and animated instructions, to help John Sommer the lawyer for the Plaintiff, to improve his ineffective arguments – probably he too saw how the case was tanking and thought the floundering lawyer could use some pointers on how to save the Hatfield ship from sinking.
On one occasion, (Feb 23, 2012 – 3:58 pm) just after his testimony, in a clear attempt to try to shore up the sagging confidence of a growingly despondent Ms Hatfield, I watched him seven feet in front of me, coming up behind her, as she sat beside her lawyer, grabbing her by the shoulders, and planting a big kiss on top of her head. It didn’t calm her down, or stop her shaking.
Clearly she felt his “over-the-top” behaviour showed things were worse than she had even feared.
Ms. Hatfield looked at the abysmal performance of her tag-team, and could see she was staring defeat in the face.
The Sinclair Kiss of Death was all the proof she needed.
The Despondent Sad Confession – It is telling that the Plaintiff, the little old school teacher, who was dragged – or did she inject herself? – into this mess, and who will lose some $30,000-40,000 of her paltry and depleted pension, as much as confessed to James Adams of the Globe that she had probably lost the case, even before the judge was set to rule.
An assessment I agreed with completely.
(James Adams inherited the Globe Arts beat that had gotten Val Ross and her employer into so much trouble in 2007. See Moniz v Globe in 2008 above)
Ms. Hatfield volunteered to Adams that even if she has to pay legal costs for the people she wrongfully accused of selling her a forgery, after initiating a lawsuit which her Conspiracy Theory friends had encouraged her to launch – it was all for a good cause…
Whoaa! This one, totally escapes me. What good cause?
She will lose some $40,000 to $50,000 of her pension for legal fees, and likely lose the case.
For falsely calling a painting she now realizes is genuine, a forgery.
She faces paying another $5,000 for her wrongfully defamed Defendant’s assigned court costs…
Her wrongful defamation has caused the Defendants to lose some $40,000 of their own money to defend themselves from a false forgery charge. Money they can never recoup.
She has publicly caused damage to the reputations of numerous decent people and businessmen and women with malicious accusations for which she had only hearsay proof at best, from Conspiracy Theorists.
She continues to defame a genuine work of Morrisseau’s art even though forensics ruled it signed by Norval with DNA certainty.
What good, exactly did this CT Proxy #4, a little old retired school teacher, accomplish…
The mind boggles…
Hatfield allowed, in a surreal expansion – if you can possibly believe this? – that if she loses, she will still appeal, and spend even more of what little remains of her pension, to keep on trying to prove that her painting – already certified to be authentic by a whole line of independent Morrisseau collectors and retailers as well as top Canadian forensic experts – is a cheap fake as maintained by her two friends, Principal Conspiracy Theorists AKA the “Don and Ritchie Show.”
It is surreal beyond belief that after seeing how ineffective and incredible their performance and evidence was, when stacked up against the Defendant’s team, she ends up burdened with the knowledge that she has probably lost the case, wasted scores of thousands on her lawyer, faces thousands more in paying court costs for the people she defamed, and is going home with self-declared “experts” as friends who assure her, after “two years of all that” that her painting is still a cheap fake, and worthless…
Though Conspiracy Theorists are ineffective against the Truth, Reality, or Judges, with their only success being with entrapping gullible, uniformed, and malleable Proxies of neophyte art collectors.
For other Canadians, it is nothing, if not a further devastating slap at the credibility of her expert team of Conspiracy Theorists, when a totally inexperienced person, and a naïve art collector, has enough savvy to recognize, after five days of testimony, that “her side,” the “Don and Ritchie Show” made such a lousy presentation, that it seems clear even she didn’t buy it.
The judge who said he would rule on Sep 25, 2012, is still deliberating as of April 2013.
I believe firmly that if Deputy Judge Paul J Martial had believed the two Conspiracy Theorists’ passionate testimony, and the Robinson “expert report,” all loudly denouncing “Wheel of Life 1979” as a cheap and worthless forgery, he would have done so on September 25, as I sat in court awaiting his finding. He had all summer to construct what would then have been a straight forward ruling.
That he is still considering, six months later, means he has something else in mind.
Foiled by Forensics Part 6 – This I project, will be the sixth stunning court case rebuff in a row, to the reliability of the Conspiracy Theorists, as credible authenticators of what are authentic Morrisseaus and forgeries, and will, I believe, become the second time, in a row, that a painting they called a cheap, worthless forgery, will be confirmed, de facto, as authentic by a judge – as well as having been authenticated, with DNA certainty, by an independent scientist as an authentic Morrisseau.
No one likes to slam a little old lady, who, however naïve has already suffered so much.
The Awful Personal Cost – I sat seven feet behind Margaret Hatfield for five full days over two years, and saw her progressively decline in health, from an assured self-confident woman on Day One, to a quivering mass of jellied panic by the end.
By Day Five, she could no longer keep her hands from shaking or her body from displaying non-stop panic attacks that vibrated in sync with the bad news coming from the Defendant’s expert Morrisseau witnesses.
Her body tremours betrayed that she could clearly see the case slip away from her, as she watched tens of thousands of dollars of her paltry pension drain away, for good… Into the pockets of her lawyer who dawdled on and on…
So the judge appears to be taking five months and counting, to sort out what further damage against her that he can live with…
Because I am firmly convinced, from my close observation of the elderly lady’s declining state, that the meat grinder*** her friends have put her through, has shortened her life…
***Here’s that meat grinder again. One of the Conspiracy Theorists sent an email to one of the investigative journalists covering this story for the Canadian public, threatening him with ending up in a “meat grinder,” you know, like in Fargo, ND.
Seriously? Seriously enough the threatened email recipient reported it to the local police.
Who Stole the $20,000,000 or $40,000,000?
Wonder whatever happened to the KR-384, those laboriously logged 384 paintings that Donald Robinson carefully marked and numbered KR-0 to KR-384 on the stretcher, and shipped to Gabe Vadas in 2009?
Since Norval died utterly broke, who stole them?
Where did those 384 carefully numbered paintings go?
The Morrisseau children, reportedly got none of them…
Did some lawyers end up with them, you know, to cover legal expenses to settle the estate of an indigent Indian who died penniless…?
A riveting mystery – a whodunit – that would never have surfaced were it not for the Hatfield trial, and the absent-minded blurting out by the expert witness…
And an investigative journalist who kept his ears wide open.