UPDATED: The five day Hatfield v Child trial exposed the damning evidence – big-time – that at the very time (2005) Conspiracy Theorists claimed Norval Morrisseau was mentally alert and supposedly surfing the net for so-called “fakes” and issuing his multiple Affidavits of Forgery for hundreds of paintings – including one for “Wheel of Life 1979” – he was in the advanced stages of Dementia, couldn’t say a decipherable word, and couldn’t even recognize his own son during a visit to a terminal care facility where Norval had been housed for years.
(NOTE: If you skip to a topic below, use the “Return Click” on your mouse to come back.)
Dementia – Alzheimer’s – Stroke
Wolf Says Norval Lost his Memory 2001
Myths About the Drunken Indian
NFB Film 1974
Red Lake Party 1962
Strokes & Parkinson’s
Case of the Hidden Indian
Norval Losing Sexual Ability 1970s
Norval’s “Fakes” in “Travels to the House of Invention” 1997
Norval’s “Fakes” Removed by Robinson in “Return to the House of Invention” 2005
Norval in Terminal Care Facility 2001
Norval “Talking” in 2001-2002
Norval’s Vegetative State in LeBlank Video Apr 2002
Norval’s Power of Attorney 2003
Norval Can’t Talk for CBC Documentary 2004
Norval Can’t Recognize Own Son Apr. 2005
Norval Can’t Remember 21 Painting Deal Mar. 2005
Norval’s Disastrous Affidavits of Forgery Issued 2004-2005
Norval the Internet Surfer 2005
Norval’s Affidavits Target Reputable Businesses not Fake Paintings 2004-5
Norval’s Affidavits Discredited by Scientists
Norval AKA “Lazarus” Supposedly Founds the NMHS 2005
Norval Drools & Memory Gone 2006
Donald “No Show” Robinson 2006
Judge Martial Trusts Wolf 2013
Memory Problems 2003 – 2007
Norval had been dead for two years when Ms. Margaret Hatfield apparently discovered – through an “internet dating” service provided by a Conspiracy Theorist – that her painting “Wheel of Life 1979,” which she had bought at Artworld of Sherway (Toronto) in 2005, was a listed as a supposed “fake” on an Affidavit of Forgery, bearing the signature of Norval Morrisseau.
Ms. Hatfield opened the trial by choosing to speak in support of the mental acuity of a man she had never met.
In a trial where a judge would mildly chide her for not doing “due diligence” – and she agreed – with regard to her painting, it soon became evident that she had been equally remiss in not checking into the background credentials of her supposed “experts.” All had the tainted outlook of passionate association with a dreamed up “Conspiracy Theory” for which none had any credible independent evidence.
She also did not do “due diligence” into researching on the well-known mental and physical decline of the artist whose painting she bought. But none of that stopped Ms. Hatfield from pontificating in her teacherly manner about the mental health and ability of her artist.
Ms. Hatfield chose to go to the Bible to prove “Wheel of Life 1979” was a fake. She asked the court, rhetorically, “Would a father turn against his own child (a stand-in for the painting) and call it a fake?”
Ignoring, for one thing, all the historical proof that Norval Morrisseau was, probably, the worst Deadbeat Dad in Canadian history. (see The Biblical Proof)
And furthermore, she deliberately ignored – she could hardly have failed to see the pictures of Norval’s head drooping and his tongue hanging out from as early as 1999 – and other documented proof, that by then, Norval had, probably, the most destroyed body and mind of any leading Canadian personality in Canadian history.
Ms. Hatfield had even less excuse than anyone else for purposefully ignoring the obvious and disastrous mental decline of the painter on whose mental health she propounded with Biblical fervor in court.
Her own mother had been, for years, a tragic victim of Alzheimer’s, and like Morrisseau, was clearly and hugely, also, a victim, of Dementia.
I am absolutely certain she could give a heart-wrenching account of the progressive mental decline of her beloved mother, over many years, how she became totally incapable of looking after herself, and how she drifted off, into an unreachable void of mental collapse, and how for years she could no longer even recognize her own daughter and loving caregiver.
Dementia – Alzheimer’s – Stroke – Ms. Hatfield had personal and intimate knowledge about the horrific damage wrought on a loved one suffering from the debilitating diseases that can tragically attack older people.
During this stressful time in her life, entirely imposed on her by diabolical Conspiracy Theorists who drew her into their web, and scared the bejeesus out of her by claiming she had wasted $10,000 on a fake Morrisseau, she also buried her mother who died after a lengthy bout with Alzheimer’s.
“We buried her May the 19th of 2009. She was at the – in the end stages of Alzheimer’s. It was very painful. This had gone on for years. So I was tending to Mom…” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: May 31, 2011 p 15)
Judge Martial heard from many witnesses about Norval’s parallel descent into his own private hell as his body betrayed him in old age, as he had betrayed it, in his youth.
“It is common knowledge that he had various health issues, had a stroke, suffered from alcoholism and substance abuse, and in his later years had Alzheimer’s disease.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p1)
NOTE: “Alzheimer’s is the most common form of Dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of Dementia cases.” (Alz.org Alzheimer’s Association)
It is statistically an overwhelmingly probability that Norval had Alzheimer’s, which the majority of Dementia patients have. And Norval certainly fit the bill for that in spades…
Dementia is not a specific disease but an overall term describing a variety of debilitating mental conditions that are related to Parkinson’s, stroke, alcohol and substance abuse, all of which are hugely related and relevant to Norval Morrisseau.
A patient is suffering from clinical Dementia if there is significant impairment in two of the following core mental functions:
– communications and language
– ability to focus and pay attention
– reasoning and judgment
– visual perception
In fact the testimonial evidence in court, sworn affidavits, witness observations, and video evidence (both media and privately published), are overwhelming, that Norval was an extreme victim of Dementia in, not just the clinically requisite two, but ALL of those categories.
And considering Norval’s decades of a no-holds-barred lifestyle involving over-the-top drug and alcohol abuse, his debilitated mental condition would have been no surprise to any doctor or to anyone else who knew his history or encountered him and observed him up close and personal.
Wolf Morrisseau’s Tragic Family Testimony – Norval’s brother, Wolf, testified about the extreme toll that alcohol took on Norval and his family.
“A. Well, he was quite decadent; he enjoyed the luxuries of life. He didn’t really care about what anybody said or did; he just did what he thought was right. His alcoholism was quite detrimental to him and his health.
Q. Can you explain a little bit about that?
A. Well, being from an alcoholic family – my mom, my dad, all my aunties and uncles, they’re all dead because of alcohol – he drank to excess and what his demons were while he, if anybody that was listening to him when he was drunk, I couldn’t listen to him because it was too hard on me.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p108)
Wolf testified, that by 2001-2, his brother Norval confessed to him that his mind had gone, he couldn’t remember his paintings, and that he had only minutes of lucidity, before he would “fade away.”
“… he basically said that he is no longer in any condition to have a viable understanding of what he had done because he had Parkinson’s; it was taking so much from him. He would become lucid and then all of a sudden he would begin to fade away… His lucidity lasted for about 20 minutes, 30 minutes at the most.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p116)
Alcoholic (Alcohol-related) Dementia – Norval had been an ultra extreme alcoholic for decades, which made him the poster child candidate for “Alcohol-related Dementia” caused by long-term excessive drinking, resulting in neurological and brain cell damage. It’s a common cause of mental dysfunction. Other related symptoms include:
– impaired planning, thinking, judgment – see Affidavits
– memory loss & impairment – see Hoffstein, Affidavits
– arm & leg motor damage & impairment – see LeBlanc video
– language impairment – see CBC
– apathy – see LeBlanc video
– failure to recognize or identify objects – see Christian, Travels
(Alcohol Dementia – Wikipedia)
“There are very few qualitative differences between alcohol dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and it is therefore difficult to distinguish between the two. Some of these warning signs may include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, poor or impaired judgment and problems with language. However the biggest indicator is friends or family members reporting changes in personality…”
The Myths About the “Drunken Indian” – One of the biggest misconceptions white men have about Indians as big drinkers is that it is because they are depressed and are drowning their sorrows because of the Third World conditions under which so many are living in Canada.
It was a loud argument I had with the Minister for Health – a personal friend – in the NWT in the 1970s. He, a former Toronto urbanite and graduate of Kingston’s Royal Military College, had never lived at all in any Aboriginal community, and customarily spouted the typical white man’s gibberish about Indian drinking that had no basis in fact or reality.
Indians, he propounded, had a lot of good reasons to drink, mainly to drown their sorrows in gallons of booze to forget the abject poverty and backwoods conditions in which they were forced to live.
Life in Remote Aboriginal Villages – I lived for four years in an isolated and remote Indian community routinely referred to by judges, lawyers, police, government administrators, and my white colleagues and friends, as “the worst community in the whole of the Northwest Territories.” Yet every single person that lived there was adamant that it was the best place in the world and, given the choice, they would never have chosen to live anywhere else on earth.
So contrary to the white myth, about Indian alcoholism, It was not a place that would drive any of them to drink.
Those who lived there were wild in their praise for their community, which to white men was supposedly as good a reason as any, to get stinko drunk.
I, who lived for six years in various remote northern Canadian Aboriginal villages, and as a dutiful school principal attended countless parties where the parents of students I taught were overly intoxicated, came to see what a total fiction the myth about Indian drinking was.
Those Indians who drank, did so first because of history: it was learned behaviour from the leaders of white society with whom they first came into contact: the fur traders and store managers of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Many native people soon learned that partying and drinking went hand in hand for those who were successful leaders of white society.
(Try and find a single scene in the multiple Emmy award-winning “Mad Men,” in which sophisticated urban men in suits, at the top of their profession, are not either drinking or pouring a drink for themselves or each other, both at work and at home.)
In fact, the biggest booze hounds in remote pioneer Canadian fur trade posts were the Bay men who found the stuff worked wonders with Indian girls. In fact the pattern persisted into the 1970s in the Canadian north.
The worst social gaucherie I ever encountered in many years of living in remote Canadian Aboriginal villages, was done by an inebriated white Bay man, the manager of a Co-op store who was at a multi-cultural party in our (the principal’s) house. In a moment of degenerate abandon, like a fireman with his hose, he sprayed the walls, the counter, the towels, and the toothbrushes of our bathroom with his piss.
The social atrocity was pointed out to me by my Aboriginal teaching assistant – whose children still bring their own kids to visit us in Toronto nearly forty years later – who took me down to the bathroom to see the carnage.
I still recall with emotion, her earnest voice as she said in disgust, “No Indian ever did that!”
She was right.
Drinking I came to see, in Aboriginal communities, had nothing to do with being a tool to escape poverty or depression. Drinking – like in Mad Men – was a status symbol and a desirable social activity.
In fact, in my experience, the biggest drinkers and biggest bootleggers in the three different Aboriginal villages where I lived were, invariably, the top leaders in the community, with the steadiest jobs and the biggest pay cheques.
With their income they could afford to host the biggest and wildest parties in town. Where booze was the main attraction, was free and shared, and no invitations were necessary, because when you’re “parading your success and status” the more observers the better.
Likewise the biggest “parties” occurred when a raft of government cheques hit town, or pay cheques from fire-fighting, or other seasonal work.
In fact the most wretchedly poor in the communities – supposedly the ones with the most reason to drink, so the white man’s reasoning went – were not the biggest boozers, but often the most sober. Hell they couldn’t afford to get drunk.
I never heard of an Aboriginal person who sat and drank alone, as is common, in fact and fiction, by white people as they nurse themselves through a personal depression with booze, alone at the bar, or in a hotel room.
Giving the lie to all the myths of Aboriginal drinking that white men were trying to jam down people’s throats, including Norval’s.
White men who meant the best for Norval always tried to get him to straighten out his “alcohol problem” as they incessantly called it. Pollock did it; journalists did it; even his early mentors, who should have known better, like Dr. Weinstein misdiagnosed it and denounced it.
White men just could not realize that Norval “needed” booze to create his art, and Norval “wanted” booze as badge of his success. By denouncing his boozing, white men were trying to rob him first, of his creative power as an artist, of secondly, of his right to flaunt his success among the people who counted in his universe.
Norval summed up the reality about alcohol to Stevens, who quoted him in his book.
“See, sometimes I think I have been studying this problem for a long time – my drinking problem. The only thing I could ever suggest is that it is a status symbol. The white man wants two Cadillac’s in his garage; he wants a big house, a big barn. And the Indian wants a big quart! That’s my status symbol! You know that! With that I’m happy and if the white man doesn’t like me that way – the hell with him. All I want is my own self.” (Stevens, Picasso p64)
And the more there was to drink, the higher the status, to prove that one had “arrived.”
“My idea of a sociable drink is a forty ponder (ounzer – ed) of rye.” (Norval quoted by Roy Thomas to James Stevens, Picasso of the North, p93)
The NFB Film – In fact the film the National Film Board shot on Norval in the mid-1970s clearly shows Norval was quite inebriated during the filming, and that the editor had a nightmare time cutting his interview shots to try to hide the fact.
Clearly the NFB producer, coming to make a film of Norval, arrived to find him constantly drunk. He had two choices: go home without filming, or shoot something and hope the editor back home would snip out clips that wouldn’t betray behaviour his audience would find disgraceful.
To many people he succeeded. To me, as a professional editor for some 40 years, it’s easy to see his problem shots and that the cutting was done, not for filming pacing and story telling, but only to hide the embarrassment of an inebriated subject.
The Party in Red Lake – After the huge success of Norval’s first showing in Toronto at the Pollock Gallery in 1962, Norval took his huge wad of cash back to Red Lake to show off his success to the locals and threw a huge party floating in booze.
“Later I got news from Susan Ross that Norval had been handing all this money around and the entire native community was drunk. Two Indians had got so drunk they had lain down In the middle of a road in the fog and had been run over and killed.” (Dear M – Jack Pollock p41)
The carnage booze left in its wake, in Canadian Aboriginal villages, is real enough. As school principal I went to many funerals resulting from alcohol abuse leading to: drownings, shootings, knifings, freezing, accidents. I dug numerous graves, I was a pall bearer, I attended wakes, I ferried the coffin containing one of my students to the cemetery with my skidoo and sled. It was a teenager, Ruthie, who was shot at a drunken party in Yellowknife, when a white man went nuts and shot four Indians to death.
In the six years I lived in remote Aboriginal communities in the Canadian north I attended more funerals of people I knew well, than in all the rest of my life (67 years.) Many were my students.
When I returned years later to another remote community in which I taught for a year I visited the graveyard. Lots of my grade 5 and 6 students were there. Who never made it to voting age.
For the next thirty years Norval drank excessively and partied as often as he had money. As Norval told anyone who would listen: “to get drunk is the most beautiful thing there is.” (Globe 2007)
But, progressively, his body and mind began to break down and betray him.
No wonder that by the end of the 1980s friends reported he was also losing his power as an artist.
Said Lloyd Comber c 1987, “I noticed that his art wasn’t as good as it used to be.” (Stevens, Picasso p193)
And it explains why many Morrisseau experts and collectors refuse to buy art from Norval Morrisseau’s “wheelchair invalid period” from the 1990s on.
“I have always told people, if you have work from the 60s, you’re laughing to the bank, the 70s, OK, but into the late 80s, questions, 90s and on, anything goes…”
– Gail Fikis, Registrar, Thunder Bay Art Gallery,1983-2007
Clearly, white men would say, well, Norval had picked the wrong status symbol to flaunt his success.
But Norval wouldn’t have agreed.
Even in old age Norval refused to reform, telling Mcleans journalist John Geddes in the summer of 2003, when, he with his typical white man’s misconceptions prodded Norval about his “alcohol problem.” Gabe Vadas was there to “interpret” for Norval since Geddes had a hard time getting Norval to say anything much other than short phrases. But not when Geddes brought up Norval’s so-called “booze problem.”
“About his struggles with alcohol, though, he sucks in breath and gasps out his longest reply: “I’d do it all over again. I’d have a better approach. I’d really get drunk.” (John Geddes, Mcleans, Jan 26, 2004)
But Norval didn’t stop, merely with decades of alcohol excess; Stevens recounts stories of Norval drinking cases of after shave, and perfume, and no doubt cleaning solvents like Lysol, when alcohol was gone or not available.
As a principal charged with safe-guarding school supplies in a remote Aboriginal village, I had to put the biggest lock of all on the ware-house where the school’s cleaning supplies were stored, including cases of Lysol, the cleaning solvent our janitor used. Lysol was the target of all school break-ins over the years by people with the urge to party and with no money to buy real alcohol.
I recall filming the village tribal festivities at Caribou Carnival time on the ice, as two young guys on a skidoo and sled came up. I got a great shot of them approaching and passing, as they waved cheerfully at me.
I learned later, they had used the distraction of the festivities to break into the school ware-house from where they made off with all my cases of Lysol. The stolen booty was apparently in the very sled I filmed as they went by me, cheerfully, on the way to their own Lysol party. Almost 40 years later I see their grinning faces yet; both died young, long before their time…
What accelerator effect would drinking Morning Glory perfume and cleaning solvents have had on Norval’s Alcohol Dementia?
In addition Norval was a huge substance abuser (my white man characterization which Norval would disagree with), over many decades. What contributing debilitating accelerator effect did this have on Norval’s state of mind?
Stroke – Strokes can greatly impair mental functions and affect motor skills of arms, legs, head, and tonque. Norval had strokes in 1994 and 1997, all accelerating the deterioration of brain cells that were already damaged by his lifetime of excessive alcohol and substance abuse much of it learned, as he grew up, from his elders. As Wolf testified, his parents and uncles and aunts had all died of it.
Parkinson’s & Related Dementia – As he aged, Norval was in the final stages of Parkinson’s. According to the medical literature, at least 30% of Parkinson’s patients also suffer parallel associated Dementia.
The Case of the Hidden Indian – It all ll led to the “Hiding of Norval Morrisseau.”
In fact the videos of Norval, that were taken by independent, non-Conspiracy Theorist witnesses at this time – when Norval was kidnapped by his family from out of the control of his white “care-givers” for a few months in 2001-2002 – show Norval to be mentally, little more than a vegetable, and being easily manipulated into signing anything at all, with no mental involvement by him at all.
It all goes a long way towards explaining – big time – a huge mystery of the time: why did the white businessmen surrounding Norval’s wheelchair refuse to produce even a single video of any kind showing Norval Morrisseau talking on any subject, or even painting during the last ten years of his life?
A single look at the LeBlanc video will be all the explanation you will ever need. (See Videos)
The devastating sign-posts of Norval’s Dementia and Parkinson’s are very visible and easy to diagnose. And not very helpful for someone trying to sell new paintings by an aging painter who has so many hugely visible and obvious signs of various debilitating mental and physical conditions.
An artist who can’t talk; an artist who can’t hold a brush without shaking; an artist who can’t reach further than his lap; in short, an artist who can’t paint or communicate. In fact who often appears to be little more than a vegetable.
Note: Gabe Vadas and his wife Michele have been credited by Conspiracy Theorists with “taking care of Norval” in his declining years. The truth is something entirely different. It was Norval’s money from his paintings which, from 1987 to 2007, supported the Vadas family. They had no other means of income – Gabe was a street-person when Norval took him in. Gabe’s houses and boats, his bank accounts, ALL came from Norval’s paintings.
In 2001 the Vadas family dumped Norval in a terminal care facility, and refused access to him by outsiders, journalists, and even Norval’s family.
Again it was all paid for by the public purse and again by Norval’s money while the Vadas family then ruthlessly exercised Norval’s Power of Attorney to advance their business activities with Norval’s paintings. When Norval died he had nothing; the Vadas’ owned it all: houses, boats, bank accounts, paintings. Norval’s children were disowned totally in Norval’s last will, forcing the children to go to court against the claims of the Vadas family.
Norval’s obvious and numerous physical and mental disabilities can go a long way to explaining why Norval was hidden by his white “care-givers” for years, both from the public and his family, and never produced for video interviews. And never put before journalists without his interpreter and spokesman Gabe Vadas doing the talking and interpreting for him, as he did in the CBC program where the producer could not get Norval to speak a single word for a one-hour documentary of his life.
Virtual Quadriplegic – Ms. Hatfield, in her own testimony, and blatantly ignoring her own experience with Dementia, was now pontificating about a man who at that time, had had inarguably the most abused body and mind of any leading Canadian personality in history.
And was displaying ALL the classical tell-tale symptoms of anyone suffering from extreme Dementia.
Dementia: the Descent into a Private Hell – The debris trail left by Norval Morrisseau’s Dementia is clear and devastatingly obvious to anyone who has bothered to examine the record.
I publish here the first major public compilation of some of the leading evidence that shows Norval Morrisseau’s progressive mental decline.
For Years, Incapable of Intelligible Speech – A typical obituary press announcement said what was obvious to all those who had had personal access to Norval Morrisseau in the last ten years of his life: “Norval passed away… after a long battle with Parkinson’s. He had suffered two strokes and spent much of his last years in a wheelchair, incapable of intelligible speech.” Journalist Rick Garrick was quoting Norval’s brother Ronald for many of his facts. (Anishinabek News, Rick Garrick, Dec. 2007)
Had Ms. Hatfield practiced “due diligence” she could have read many other similar articles about a man she claimed was all-seeing, all-knowing, and fully mentally engaged and capable of communicating truthful specifics about her very own painting, “Wheel of Life 1979” which he had presumably painted some 30 years before, in 1979.
Early 1990s – Norval’s Body Shuts Down – In fact Norval’s body had started to shut down years before: in the 1970s he was already complaining to James Stevens of a marked decline in sexual function. This was a devastating worry for a man who had for decades gloried in his sexual excesses with women, preferably men, and often young boys. He told Stevens:
“I’ve experienced it all, bestiality, animals, homosexuality, men, heterosexuality, women. The only thing I’ve never f***ed is a turtle.” Then we both broke out laughing at the outrageousness of his comment.” (Stevens, Picasso p158)
Norval had the first of two debilitating strokes in 1994, and Parkinson’s had struck by then as well. He was permanently in a wheel-chair from the same period.
All media video clips after 1995 – all short and heavily edited – show him shaking uncontrollably and staring vacantly ahead, never making eye contact with anyone and never moving his head or limbs.
1997 – Fakes in “Travels to the House of Invention” – Signs of Norval’s Dementia started at least as early as 1997, when he demonstrated his utter failure, at being able to distinguish his authentic from his supposed so-called “fakes.” If we are to believe the say-so of Principal Conspiracy Theorist Ritchie Sinclair.
In the book “Travels to the House of Invention,” published by Donald Robinson that year, which lists Norval as the author, Norval includes large pictures of five paintings that were later hugely denounced as forgeries, by Ritchie Sinclair – he called them “inferior counterfeits”- in 2008.
He still lists them prominently as such in 2013, on his website. And Donald Robinson has never ordered the devastating and compromising pictures and accusations removed. They remain just another in a growing list of powerful statements as to Robinson’s own failure as a Morrisseau authenticator.
(Before it was “discovered” and denounced as a so-called “fake” by Sinclair, Kinsman Robinson Galleries even provided one of the so-called fake pictures as an authentic Morrisseau to Beaver Magazine to banner a feature article it published on Robert Lavack.)
From this you can only draw two conclusions:
– either Sinclair is a liar or has no clue about how to tell real from so-called fake Morrisseaus, or
– that Norval Morrisseau and Donald Robinson were incapable of recognizing a genuine Morrisseau painting from his earlier years.
But, Sinclair, on his website, as a clear and telling courtesy to Donald Robinson – Sinclair’s increasingly close business associate – only publishes the photos individually, as standalone fakes, refusing to give “context” to any of the five images he claims are forgeries.
He does not mention that Robinson, or Morrisseau, or Kinsman Robinson Galleries were involved, and does not mention that the “inferior counterfeits” came from a book, or give its name, or publish a picture of the cover of “Travels.” Hiding complicit or embarrassing information is a common practice with Conspiracy Theorists who constantly avoid and hate transparency, forthrightness, disclosure, and independent verification with a passion.
It is, of course, exactly what makes Conspiracies possible, and Hoaxes abound.
Sinclair’s non-disclosure is a stunning and telling departure for him as a Conspiracy Theorist blogger.
Sinclair did not extend the same courtesy to the Elmwood Spa, when he denounced so-called “forgeries” he accused it of publishing in a book. He named names, the business, identified the book, and even published images of the cover. (see Terror on Elm Street)
It’s pretty conclusive – and early – proof by itself – thanks to Sinclair’s publication – that Norval just made huge mistakes because of advancing Dementia, in misdiagnosing real paintings as fakes, or vice versa. (Of course, Sinclair could have been wrong and Robinson spooked…)
2005 – Robinson Re-edits the “Fakes” – Further confirming proof, of Sinclair’s allegations, of Norval’s obviously declining mental abilities, comes from Donald Robinson, the publisher of “Travels.” When he chose to republish the book in 2005, though he made only virtually undetectable changes in the text, he removed the entire pictorial chapter that featured the five so-called “forged” pictures.
He did this three years before Sinclair made his accusations of fakes in the KRG book.
So either Norval, in one of his lucid moments, when he looked over the book, pointed out the alleged forgeries, or someone else did. And Robinson took drastic, but secret, action to remove the embarrassing pictures. In fact since nothing else was really changed in the book, it may have been the motivating factor in re-publishing a corrected version of an embarrassing chapter Donald Robinson wanted to forget.
Or cover up.
It was only three years later that Sinclair exposed allegations of the five fakes Donald Robinson had published in “Travels.” And only after he expunged all compromising connections to Norval Morrisseau, Donald Robinson, their book, or the Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Perhaps Sinclair had heard the confessional details from Robinson himself – Sinclair had been a private dinner guest at the Robinson’s in 1997 during the book launch. They were to form an increasingly multi-level business association, as Conspiracy Theorists, over the coming years, with Sinclair being given unparalleled access to Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Sinclair has told the world and several judges that “I am a fine artist,” and has said that he is even the equal and the designated successor, of Norval Morrisseau. But tellingly, since they first met in 1997 and in the sixteen years since, Donald Robinson and Kinsman Robinson Galleries have never put on a show for Ritchie Sinclair’s art, or put him in the stable of artists their gallery has represented over the decades. Apparently they believe his talents lie in other directions.
2001 – Terminal Care Facility – Norval’s descent into Dementia went on rapidly. It is well-known that by 2001, Norval was so far gone, mentally and physically, that Gabe and Michele Vadas placed him in a terminal care facility in Nanaimo.
They obviously felt that they just could no longer bear the strain of looking after a man so bedeviled by Dementia and his other maladies. Which must have gone on for years – we assume – before they reached their breaking point about their ability to cope with an invalid with no effective bodily controls anymore or mental communications skills.
Bloggers who claim to know, praise them both for repeatedly cleaning up for a man whose bodily functions were failing so drastically he was frequently soiling himself.
When Norval’s family heard of his institutional “incarceration” – they regarded it more as abandonment by the Vadas’ – they went to the west coast and kidnapped Norval, in December 2001, and brought him back to Thunder Bay, where they would keep him for some seven months, into the fall of 2002. Then Norval was apparently kidnapped back to Nanaimo, BC, by Vadas.
Dec 2001 – A Norval Friend “Talks & Walks” – In December 2001, an old family friend of Norval’s stopped to talk to him in Thunder Bay, where he was sitting as his family sold paintings in a mall, observing: “he could no longer control his body. I left after awhile because I could not understand him.” (Dolly McGuire, in James Stephens, Picasso of the North Country p 207)
Apr 2002 – A Norval Enthusiast “Talks” to Norval – In April 2002, another passionate Morrisseau collector waxed enthusiastic to me about meeting and talking to Norval in Thunder Bay, when he encountered the artist there, again, with his family, selling paintings.
When I – ever the skeptic and probing journalist and historian – stopped him in the midst of his gushing about “talking” to the great artist, to probe the validity of exactly what he was saying, about a man many people claimed couldn’t really “talk” or communicate, he paused for some time, before replying, and then said:
Apr 2002 – The LeBlanc Video – In April 2002, a lengthy, unedited video was taken of Norval – who was, at that time, an escapee from the clutches of the Conspiracy Theorists, and safely in the hands of his family. The video was taken to show that the paintings were authentic because Norval signed them, again before a camera. (See Videos)
In fact what they actually show is that clearly Norval was a virtual vegetable and totally being manipulated to countersign and thumbprint pictures, which are genuine enough and that he had painted in the 1970s.
But, in fact, what the video proves, to me as a historian and long-time film and television cameraman and editor (see csc) that without a doubt, in April 2002, Norval was exhibiting – big time – many of the classic signs of Dementia. He was simply an automaton, sleep-walking through all the paces his family was putting him through: putting his thumb into an ink pad, putting pencils in his hand, and putting paintings for him to countersign, which he had not seen. He does not even appear to look at the paintings or be mentally engaged with them.
Throughout it all, Norval says not a single word, does not make eye contact with anyone, or make a single sign of recognition of either people or paintings. He does not interact with anyone involved in the supposed “authentication” process, in any way other than as a passive prop. His head never moves from its flopped over downcast position. Where Norval’s mind is, during this process, is anyone’s guess.
Clearly, anyone with my observer skills can see for themselves, that anyone could have gotten Norval to sign anything… fake or real…
And remember, this was Norval’s mental and physical condition a full two and three years BEFORE he supposedly started to pick the hundreds of so-called “fakes” from the internet, and began to compile, and sign his notorious and totally questionable Affidavits of Forgery in 2004-2005.
Jun 2003 – Devastating Power of Attorney – In June 2003, there is further clear documentary proof that Norval Morrisseau is so far gone mentally that Gabe Vadas sees no problem in aggressively continuing to use his “Power of Attorney.”
In fact, there is evidence that Norval was so far gone by the late 1990s that Gabe Vadas may have been using it then when he was positioning himself as Norval’s “son,” and Norval’s will was prepared. Certainly Vadas used it by 2001 when he and Michele gave up on Norval and installed him in a terminal care facility in Nanaimo.
Then in 2003, in a letter to an art gallery, accusing its owners of having fakes, Clark R Purves of Purves, Hickford Horne & Curry says, “Please be advised that I am counsel for Norval Morrisseau and his Power of Attorney, Gabe Vadas.” (Letter June 17, 2003 from Clark R Purves)
Purves says this deliberately for only one reason: everyone knows that “Norval has mentally left the building,” who knows how many years before.
It is illegal to invoke a Power of Attorney on behalf of someone else if they are mentally capable of looking after their own interests. Clearly Norval was not, or Vadas was breaking the law. Purves must have satisfied himself and been convinced that it was proper for him to invoke the legality that allowed someone to speak and act on behalf of a mentally incapable patient.
Which means two more things: Purves knew about the mental issues that bedeviled Norval and, secondly, that others knew of the problem also. Which is why Purves brought this out in the open in a big way as the first line in his letter of warning. Let’s face it, a lawyer covers his own ass first, then that of his client.
2004 – Norval Can’t Utter a Single Word for CBC – In fact by early 2004, Norval’s mental decline had been so precipitous, that the CBC producer shooting “The Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau,” complained that he could not get Norval to speak one word for his one-hour program celebrating his career as Canada’s top Aboriginal artist.
Any voice and video clips of Norval he used all came from much earlier footage, most of it from the 1970s.
Norval’s longtime companion and white care-giver Gabe Vadas did all the on-camera talking for him. It was impossible for it to be any other way. By 2004, Norval had the most destroyed mind and body of any leading Canadian personality in Canadian history.
Which raises a very serious question? If the CBC producer couldn’t get Norval to say a single intelligible word, that he could use, how did Norval communicate his supposed knowledge about hundreds of forgeries listed on the Affidavits that mysteriously appeared bearing his name in the two years following?
Feb 2005 – Norval Can’t Recognize His Own Son – In powerful testimony, quoted in its entirety by Judge Martial in his judgment, longtime fine art dealer and Morrisseau family friend, Jim White, testified how by February 2005, Norval “… could not speak, much less hire a lawyer, much less direct a lawyer to do anything.” It was his opinion after he had taken Norval’s son Christian to meet his father in his terminal care facility and noted how devastating the experience was for him.
The Plaintiff’s counsel, Jonathan Sommer, trying his best to contain the damage, openly scoffed at White (my characterization from seven feet away):
“So you knew that for a fact?”
“Yes I did.”
“Are you a doctor sir?”
(In fact Sommer did not know an important fact about Dementia, that: “there are very few qualitative differences between Alcohol Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and it is therefore difficult to distinguish between the two” and that “the biggest indicator is friends or family members reporting changes in personality…” (Alcohol Dementia – Wikipedia))
Like Margaret Hatfield about her mother; like Christian Morrisseau about his dad.
In probably the most passionate retort of the entire five day court proceeding, White shot back angrily, at Sommer’s deliberate attempt to minimize his credibility and testimony.
Stung to the quick, White literally barked (my characterization) at the lawyer:
“I’m the man who took Norval’s son to see him and who was refused admittance because Gab. (sic) Vadas said, no one gets to see him. Not the family, not anyone. He did get to see him. Pictures were taken. Norval is sitting in the wheelchair with his tongue hanging out. He’s sitting with his son. His son is holding his hand and crying because his father cannot even recognize him. That’s why.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: June 4, 2012 p180) all quoted by Judge Martial (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p33)
It was a telling part of the transcript out of hundreds of pages that Judge Martial chose to include, in their entirety, to illustrate his short 34 page judgment.
Ms. Hatfield, only seven feet in front of me, sat silently at this exchange, twitching noticeably. She must have hugely understood Christian’s tragic encounter with his father. She had experienced exactly the same thing with her own mother, who died at the very moment she became dragged in the Morrisseau forgery Hoax by the Conspiracy Theorists. She had tended her mother through years of advancing Dementia which must have made her unable to recognize her own loving care-giving daughter.
But for some reason Ms. Hatfield just wouldn’t connect the dots between the tragic parallel mental decline of her own mother and that of Norval Morrisseau.
She tried to pretend that Norval, who, like her mother, was in the final stages of Dementia, was in a completely mentally fit condition to discover “Wheel of Life 1979” as a fake on the internet, and add it to his Affidavit of Forgery.
Or her “advisors” wouldn’t let her think otherwise, for their own reasons, both business and personal, and to propagate their myth of a giant Conspiracy Theory.
Why so feverishly?
That’s easy: the only, and entire case, charging that “Wheel of Life 1979” was a so-called “forgery” depended entirely on Norval Morrisseau being of sound mind in 2005, when his notorious Affidavits of Forgery were fabricated and sent out.
At a time when the overwhelming evidence from many sources – both direct and circumstantial – was that Norval was little more than semi-comatose, being virtually incapable of mental function, and totally dependent on his “care-givers.” And, in fact, being manipulated, for business reasons by his white business partners and handlers.
Mar 2005 – Stunning Memory Loss – On March 15, 2005, a lawyer claiming to act for Norval Morrisseau sent a warning to a long-time and highly reputable fine art dealer, saying the gallery was committing fraud and violating Norval’s copyright on their corporate website which “purports to sell copies of our client ‘s original artwork pursuant to a copyright agreement with our client… Our client denies entering into such agreement or in anyway transferring or authorizing the use of his copyright.” (Letter, Mar. 15, 2005, from Eric N Hoffstein, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP )
Hoffstein threatened to launch a legal action within 10 days to stop the alleged fraud.
The fine art dealer produced a letter from 1988, with multiple signatures by Norval, proving he had agreed to give the gallery the right to buy the originals and make copies for sale, in perpetuity, of 21 paintings. Appended were 21 images, each one of which Norval had also previously initialed in the document.
This was not Norval’s mental failure of remembering only a single painting. Norval had, apparently, a total memory collapse of a huge agreement involving no fewer than 21 of his own paintings.
Clearly, Norval couldn’t remember the transaction and a document that he had signed 22 times.
Such a bulk deal was unprecedented, and would have been memorable to anyone except someone bedeviled by Dementia. Norval had signed away the copyright to duplicate and sell copies of 21 of his paintings, in perpetuity, for a total of $1,000.
A totally astonishing deal!
What artist would possibly forget such a totally dumb deal? Norval clearly had done it, when he was desperate for money, and now had no recollection of it at all.
Furthermore, the deal had only been concluded, relatively recently, in 1988. And still Norval couldn’t recall, either the agreement attached to 21 specific paintings, each of which he had personally and prominently initialed.
So much for the man Donald Robinson claimed had “total recall” of 10,000 paintings over a 50 year career. Yet by early 2005, Norval couldn’t even remember an amazing bulk lot deal of some 21 paintings from 1988.
He was not just forgetful about one painting, but of giving away the copyright as well, for 21 of them for next to nothing…
2004 – 2005 Bogus Affidavits – And stunningly, this was the very time 2004-2005, that those notorious and much flaunted Affidavits of Forgery bearing Norval’s name, started being sent to the leading business competitors of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Donald Robinson and the other white businessmen clumped around Norval’s wheelchair claimed that Norval personally researched the thousands of low resolution jpegs of paintings from internet postings and gallery sales catalogues. And that the hundreds of supposed fakes, culled down from thousands were handpicked by Norval and added to the Affidavits.
These are, to my mind, as a professional historian, among the most disreputable documents in Canadian history, and are either the product of a mind in the later stages of Dementia, or fabricated by third parties who were not very bright and made many huge and inexcusable mistakes and extreme contradictions in each and every one of some seven different documents involved.
Repeatedly, the same paintings regarded as authentic in one Affidavit, are called “forgeries” in another, or vice versa. Or paintings provided to the media as authentic, are later called fakes in the Affidavits. Or paintings that were said to be in a gallery when they were not. Or are ascribed to one owner when he never had anything to do with them.
They are utterly worthless as historical documents purporting to offer proof of forgeries or authenticity.
Let alone, being useful as court submissions to prove anything other than the private interests of the people who were behind drawing them up.
But they were clearly, utterly effective as aggressive business documents in a campaign to destabilize the Morrisseau secondary market, and damage the sales of Morrisseau paintings belonging to the main business competitors of Kinsman Robinson Galleries, to whom they were issued.
Joseph McLeod, who had been dealing with Morrisseau paintings since 1960, and remains a Morrisseau family friend to this day, was only one targeted dealer who attacked the so-called Affidavits of Forgery as incompetent, inaccurate, invalid, confusing, and just outright wrong on many levels.
In stark contrast to Donald Robinson, whose testimony was repeatedly “rejected” by Judge Martial, McLeod was notably singled out as a credible and informed witness: “He demonstrated a superior depth of knowledge of Morrisseau,” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p25) After he recounted his experience with trying to deal with clearly spurious documents, McLeod summed up the situation with:
“It was a mess.” Judge Martial chose to quote McLeod’s testimony at length. (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: June 4, 2012 p54) quoted by Judge Martial (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p28)
He quoted three key points made by McLeod:
– the Affidavits were a disaster of mega proportions
– it was “economically unsound” for a forger to copy Morrisseau whose “paintings were not selling,” who had “run out of customers who would buy” in the 1970s and after
– the signature on one Affidavit at least was not Norval’s but forged
The disastrous Affidavits offer more stunning proof, if any was needed, of Norval’s terrifying descent into Dementia. He had clearly “lost it,” and could no longer tell his originals from so-called “fakes.”
If indeed he was even involved – at this stage of Dementia – in the decisions, and giving directions to lawyers. For all anyone knows, these could all have been cooked up by the white men around Norval’s wheelchair, who, for years, had been aggressively wielding his Power of Attorney.
2004 – Norval the Internet Surfer in 2005 – The image, Conspiracy Theorists like Donald Robinson would have us believe, is supposedly one of Norval in his wheelchair, studiously surfing the internet, late at night, banging away with his mouse, seeking forgeries among the thousands of his images that were posted there.
And then assembling them in his ACCESS database, breaking them down and grouping them by alleged culprit, and then directing Gabe Vadas to issue his Affidavits of Forgery, to people who just happen to be many of the main business competitors of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
It is telling that those who received these Affidavits of Forgery never got original documents, just Xerox copies, with one page bearing a signature of Norval Morrisseau, to which were added others with dozens of small, low resolution screen grabs, on separate pages.
Said one forensic scientist, that to him the Affidavits looked like spurious “cut and paste” assemblies by someone, and did not resemble what genuinely sworn documents are supposed to look like.
Reality Check – Clearly, I’m joshing. Everyone knows that someone else was behind these bogus Affidavits. Someone else was doing the late-night surfing for fakes, picking the images they would target, and possibly, perhaps, putting – we assume – low resolution images in front of a semi-comatose wheelchair invalid, before grabbing Norval’s hand, putting a pencil in it, and making him sign, so acknowledging as fakes hundreds of tiny low resolution screen images he couldn’t even see properly. Let alone understand.
NOTE: It is well documented in Jack Pollock’s writing that Norval had only contempt for documents white men considered sacred, like invoices, legal documents, or treaties. When Pollock tried to give him an official receipt for paintings he was taking on consignment, Norval spat out “White man’s paper’s no f*cking good.” (Pollock, Dear M, p39)
To Norval’s mind a phony Affidavit of Forgery was no worse – had as much validity – as any other documents white men had been in the habit of fabricating in the past to victimize Indians. Norval had no ethical or moral reason whatsoever, not to sign a fraudulent document, especially if he would make some money from doing so.
White men had fabricated treaties that victimized Indians and fraudulently dispossessed them of their rights and land; a few phony Affidavits would have been regarded by Norval as marginal “pay-back” at best. Or playing by the white man’s rules; hell he was being advised by them… (see “Unfinished Business: Treaties with the First Nations”)
If you can’t picture the scene of Norval in his wheelchair at work behind his computer, or signing Affidavits, you may use the Ryan LeBlanc video to give you an idea. But instead of paintings, imagine some letter paper size pages put on his lap instead.
Just remember though, Norval, three full years further down the road (we’re now in 2004/05) would have been in a much more comatose condition than in the LeBlanc video (early 2002). Dementia is a ruthlessly progressive condition; and Norval was a poster child candidate.
2004 – The Affidavits Target Genuine Works not Fakes – The evidence is pretty clear that the Affidavits were never intended to attack forgeries at all. But specific businesses and genuine Morrisseau paintings.
Specifically, the Affidavits were all aimed at the main business competitors of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries, like auctioneer Randy Potter, an observation made by Judge Martial as well.
“It was his (Robinson’s) opinion that Randy Potter sold some two thousand, (2,000) fake paintings… The Court finds it obvious that Potter would be seen as a significant competitor.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p6)
“It was also clear that his (Robinson’s) personal views and business interests conflicted with his professional opinion since it was in his interest along with Mr. Vadas to maintain the price of Morrisseau paintings which would not otherwise be the case if the market was flooded with paintings sourced from Potter auctions.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p38)
2004 – The Affidavits Target Businesses Not Fakes – One of Robinson’s other business competitors, Gallery Sunami, was targeted with an Affidavit of Forgery for only five (5) paintings.
We own seven (7) Morrisseaus, and Donald Robinson very well knew it; he had been the under bidder at Randy Potter Auction in January 2000, on at least two of them. If Gallery Sunami got a cease and desist threat and Affidavit of Forgery for only five supposed “fakes,” then we should certainly have received one for seven supposed fakes.
They have been prominent on our educational website for years.
But we did not get one, for a simple reason. We are collectors; we are not a perceived fine art retail business competitor of Donald Robinson or the Kinsman Robinson Galleries, and so were not considered as a threat to the KRG business like the others were.
In spite of their name, the Affidavits’ of Forgery were clearly targeting business operations, not forgeries at all, or those collectors who had supposed forgeries.
2005 – 2013 – Every Single Affidavit Discredited by Scientists – The validity and truthfulness of the Norval Morrisseau Affidavits of Forgery are further hugely discredited because, by 2013, three of Canada’s top forensic scientists and handwriting analysis experts have been involved in proving that every single Affidavit contains paintings that one of them has certified, with DNA certainty, to have been signed by the artist himself, and no one else.
In other words, apparently Norval has completely forgotten that he actually signed and painted numerous paintings, which he has later put on an Affidavit of Forgery.
This is devastating further evidence, either about Norval’s chronic Dementia, and/or about the manipulation involving genuine Morrisseau paintings by the white businessmen gathered around his wheel-chair, or both.
NOTE: In Aug. 2010, Dr. Atul K Singla, who has an M.A. and Ph.D. in forensics, specifically examined “Wheel of Life 1979,” and declared it as authentically signed, with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau and by no one else. He testified to that effect in Hatfield v Child.
Wrote Judge Martial, “Based upon his testimony and his detailed forensic report referenced at exhibit 42, the Court finds as a fact that the painted black dry brush signature on the back of the painting Wheel of Life is that of Norval Morrisseau.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p32)
All just more devastating proof that when Norval called “Wheel” a fake, and put it on his Affidavit of Forgery, he was showing more telltale signs of ruthlessly advancing Dementia, than good judgment on any level.
It’s damning proof again, of what Wolf Morrisseau testified Norval had confessed to him many years before:
“… he basically said that he is no longer in any condition to have a viable understanding of what he had done because he had Parkinson’s; it was taking so much from him. (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p116)
So in his mentally deteriorated condition, it would have been easy for Norval to fall prey to suggestions to sign this, that, and the other, of things he couldn’t recall, by the aggressive white businessmen surrounding his wheelchair. Joe McLeod told Judge Martial, it was all “elder abuse.”
2005 – NMHS Founder & Director – The crowning calumny of the Conspiracy Theorists was unveiled in 2005, when the same Dementia-devastated Norval Morrisseau rises like Lazarus from the grave, and is propped up to perform one more Herculean intellectual task for the Conspiracy Theorists of white businessmen surrounding his wheelchair.
The Conspiracy Theorists credit him with setting up the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, in 2005, picking its officers, designing its mission statement, organizing its agenda, selecting the so-called “fake” paintings these puppeteering academics were to use to tell the fakes apart from his authentic works.
Why? Because Norval has – let’s face it, the proof is overwhelming – for years, been a liability as a marketing tool. He had refused to die in a timely fashion; he could not do media interviews; they couldn’t produce him in public; he couldn’t talk, or write, or paint. They needed a more useful proxy to take his place, that could help promote the Conspiracy Theory and help lend credibility and promote sales.
The brainstorming produced the perfect solution: the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society made up of compliant and gullible academics.
A brilliant business move actually.
If you want to see how Norval would have looked, as he rose from his wheelchair, as he “took charge” to do this, look at the LeBlanc video from early 2002, where Norval is supposedly busy supervising the authentication of his works.
Just remember, though, you have to add four (4) full years of progressive Dementia to Norval as you see him in the video, to picture him as he looked when he supposedly directed and set up the NMHS and picked its officers. (As claimed by the NMHS, and Donald Robinson.)
Now, do you believe that Norval Morrisseau is even marginally capable of being in any way involved in setting up the NMHS, let alone taking an executive role? Or is he just a helpless proxy and rubber stamp being used by his white business handlers and their willing academic dupes.
In fact I believe the evidence is overwhelming, that it was not Norval at all, but Donald Robinson, the “Master of the House of Invention,” who orchestrated the setting up of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society as an adjunct to his business operations.
In fact, Donald Robinson gave the NMHS the benchmark standard they were directed to use for detecting all forgeries, by giving its members the notorious “Wanker 16,” for denouncing and rejecting fakes. The Wanker 16, you may remember are a group only because they are all that remained of the 31 paintings Robinson bought at Randy Potter Auctions, and failed to sell. (see Wanker 16)
In other words, he transformed them into a creative tool to recycle unprofitable Morrisseau painting inventory the Kinsman Robinson Galleries had left over. If they couldn’t bring in direct dollars they might become promotional tools to create a “ripple effect” of profitability down the road by tarnishing similar Morrisseau product in the fine art galleries of his business competitors.
In fact Bryant Ross, of Coghlan Art Gallery (Aldergrove, BC), a founding member of the Conspiracy Theorists, copied this ingenious way to deal with unsalable Morrisseau paintings in his inventory. After years of trying to sell one BDP painting “Water Spirits 1979,” on ebay, at Seahawk Auction (Maple Ridge, BC), and on his Coghlan Art corporate website, where he posted it for sale for a long time for $12,000, he just decided to recycle it and use it to make a statement about forgeries and defaced it in front of TV cameras he brought in for publicity to promote his Conspiracy Theory.
So how believable is that? How credible is Ross, as a Morrisseau expert? As a fine art retailer? As an ethical businessman?
DISCLOSURE: I visited Bryant Ross’ art gallery, in the old hydro building in Aldergrove, BC, in 2005. He told us our Morrisseau paintings (all genuine BDPs which we feature on this blog) were so-called “fakes.” That the Morrisseaus he had for sale, which were laid out on the floor, as he personally toured us through the various floors of his old hydro building, were “direct from the artist.”
We did not, at all, like the looks of any of them. These so-called “Morrisseaus” from his “invalid wheelchair period,” compared poorly with hundreds of others we had seen at Randy Potter Auction, museums, and elsewhere. And all were blank on the back. So there was absolutely no way to have a handwriting analysis expert to be able to confirm the authenticity of what a “motivated businessman” would have you believe. And set your mind at ease about things: you know, did Norval have anything to do with them?
In fact when Donald Robinson started to claim all BDPs and all Randy Potter paintings were fakes, we allowed an independent forensic scientist to examine the handwriting on the back of two of these so-called “fake” paintings, on two different occasions.
Before you ask, NO, we did not pay for it. Would the Louvre pay to have a forensic scientist certify the authenticity of the Mona Lisa? Someone else, who correctly saw that both were historically significant paintings in helping expose the Hoax, did.
Both came back – no surprise to us at all – as authentically signed by Morrisseau, with DNA certainty.
You can’t do that with any other paintings supposedly painted by Norval Morrisseau and sold by Kinsman Robinson Galleries after 1991.
2006 – Marlow Goring Shocker – Marlow Goring, a fine art framer and retailer for over thirty years, and a one-time drinking buddy of Norval’s back in 1979, testified he got a huge shock when Gabe Vadas brought Norval to his gallery in 2006. Judge Martial quoted his testimony in his judgment.
“A. Yeah, I’ll never forget it. He was strapped into a wheelchair in the back of a cargo van. His head was slumped over like this.
Q. When you say ‘like this’, you have to indicate for the record…
A … it looked like he had no muscle control in his neck and he was slumped in his chair, head off to the right side, and he had crumbs all over his sweater that he was wearing and he was drooling.
Q. Okay, and did you say anything to him?
A. I was shocked. I said, oh my God, I think, was the first thing I said, and I said, hi Norval, how are you. I mean – and there was; no recognition whatsoever. And he would have recognized had he been of, you know, clear mind, I think.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Jun 4, 2012 p84) quoted by (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p30)
Reality Check – This was only a few months after Donald Robinson claims that Norval personally examined Robinson’s infamous Wanker 16 paintings, assured him they were all fakes, and then assumed the executive role in directing the details of setting up of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society…
Marlow Goring also gave strong statements that he had personally seen Norval sign the backs of multiple paintings in black paint both in Vancouver in 1979, and Ottawa in 1982, at a time when Donald Robinson had nothing whatsoever to do with Norval Morrisseau. Robinson, you may remember, swore Norval never signed the back of his painting with black paint – ever.
A claim Judge Martial totally rejected, saying that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Norval signed his paintings this way.
It was, again, such a huge divergence in the believability of testimony, that Judge Martial was asked to weigh, that in the end he saw no choice but to “reject” holus bolus, with finality, the testimony and “expert reports” of Donald Robinson.
Nothing the “Principal Morrisseau Dealer” claimed about Morrisseau, or his art, could be verified with countless other independent authorities or the documentary evidence.
Judge Martial found the Morrisseau himself, clearly in the clutches of Dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and assorted complications from Alcohol Dementia, was not reliable either, about his past art or documents published bearing his name.
2006 – Donald “No Show” Robinson – Can you imagine a long-time fine art dealer who claims, for some 18 years, to have been the “exclusive dealer” for a major artist, not bothering to show up for the most singular landmark exhibition in his artist’s entire life?
Would the artist not get angry, consider it a snub, and dump him? What businessman would possibly risk the obvious?
Yet that is exactly what Donald Robinson appears to have done. He grouchily – my read from 10 feet away in the courtroom – admitted under questioning by Ritchie Sinclair (during Otavnik v Sinclair in 2010) that in fact he had “skipped out” on the Morrisseau show at the National Gallery of Canada honouring Canada’s first Aboriginal artist to be given a retrospective by Canada’s premier art gallery.
“Q. Right. Did you attend that, were you at the 2006 National Gallery show of Norval Morrisseau?
Q. I wondered. I didn’t see you.
A. No, I did not attend.” (Court Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair: Nov 16, 2010 p131)
Skipping out on Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, whom he claimed to have been the “exclusive representative” for, for 18 years, and who had made millions for his family-owned and operated business, is nothing less than a snub of gigantic proportions.
What kind of payback is that, for an artist, an elderly ailing and virtual quadriplegic invalid, who had sill, in spite of egregious and obvious infirmaties, repeatedly, gone out his his way for years, to fly across the country and attend virtually every show and exhibition Donald Robinson ever gave for him, to help promote his Kinsman Robinson Galleries business. (Robinson himself testified to Norval’s diligence in this respect.)
Robinson skipping out on Norval was a truly stunning admission that everyone else missed – there were only five people in the public gallery at most. And no one read the court transcripts to discover this last sad chapter in Norval’s life as an artist.
“Norval has left the building…” – But aside from being an obvious social snub of Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, and seemingly, a gross business gaffe of major proportions, the “skipping out” is completely understandable, to all those who had intimate knowledge of Norval’s mental condition at the time.
As all the previous case history shows Norval was never “in” Ottawa at all – only his body was, being shunted around by Gabe Vadas, like a slab of meat on a trolley for the requisite photo ops to promote his business. Vadas had been using Norval’s Power of Attorney for years.
Norval had clearly “left the building” years ago, and Robinson very well knew it. And knew as well that Norval would never know if his Principal Morrisseau Dealer was there to celebrate his artist’s crowning achievement or not.
And that Norval was far beyond being capable of exacting any kind of punishment against the dealer whom he had dealt with for some 18 years, and made millions of dollars for.
It is no wonder that Judge Martial clearly dealt a major blow to these supposedly Norval-originated Affidavits of Forgery, “bearing Norval’s name” when they were brought up as evidence that “Wheel of Life 1979” was on one such list, and noted as a supposed “forgery.”
The “Preposterous” Mr. Robinson
In summary, this was the condition of the man Donald Robinson claimed to journalist Murray Whyte of the National Post in 2001, supposedly had total recall, pontificating strongly, that Norval could remember every one of the 10,000 paintings he had ever painted in his 50 year career.
And when Whyte challenged him about the possible likelihood of such a claim, Robinson sputtered that it was “Preposterous” for the journalist to suggest Norval was incapable of such papal infallibility.
This, we remind you, is during the same time-frame when Wolf Morrisseau testified, his brother, Norval had only brief minutes of lucidity, and told him he just couldn’t remember what he had painted…
And numerous other observers said Norval was incapable of speaking intelligibly, let alone communicating.
And this was the condition of the man Robinson said orchestrated the setting up of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society in 2005, and examined the Wanker 16 with him and confirmed that they were all fakes.
Remember that the Wanker 16 paintings are a group not because they were so-called “fakes” but only because they are inventory that Donald Robinson and the Kinsman Robinson Galleries failed to sell.
These Wanker paintings came to be because Kinsman Robinson Galleries was hiding from Norval and from Gabe Vadas, that it was dabbling in the secondary market with Morrisseau paintings, and that it had bought 31 Morrisseaus for $54,000 from Randy Potter Auctions. (It was where I first encountered him in 2000, when he was the under bidder on two of my Morrisseau paintings.)
These furtive sales – through a western Canadian auction, and privately – were secretly competing with, and undercutting, KRG sales of its direct-from-the-artist paintings. If Gabe and Norval found out, they would have become angry and probably cut off KRG as a distributor.
So all things considered, whom are you going to believe?
Judge Martial Trusts Wolf Morrisseau
He totally “rejected” the testimony of Donald Robinson, about Randy Potter fakes, and about faked signatures on the back of Norval’s paintings. And “rejected” also Robinson’s “expert report,” and his claim that “Wheel of Life 1979” was a forgery.
He said Robinson clearly had a business motive that skewed his testimony and gave him and Gabe Vadas motive for manipulating prices by attacking Randy Potter paintings. (see Martial Quote)
On the contrary, Judge Martial said he trusted Wolf Morrisseau’s testimony, in fact, going out of his way to say so, about a witness Jonathan Sommer openly accused of having a habit of commiting perjury, saying: “… that you have a history of lying to the courts; isn’t that right?” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p120)
Tellingly, in his judgment, Judge Martial specifically chose to go out of his way to target these distracting allegations, aggressively hurled – my call from seven feet away – at Wolf by Jonathan Sommer. In fact, the trail transcript shows, that Sommer spent more time with this distraction, than on asking Wolf about his real knowledge about issues that this trial was supposed to be about.
“Mr. Wilfred (Wolf) David Charles Morrisseau testified in a clear and convincing, straightforward and unassuming manner about his brother. He did not embellish or exaggerate and the Court finds him to be an entirely credible witness… and to be completely impartial, and unbiased…” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p19)
So much so that he quoted from Wolf’s trial transcripts more than from any other witness. He valued his testimony about his brother’s mental condition and signing knowledge.
In fact Judge Martial quoted back to Robinson his own testimony where Robinson allowed there were occasions when Norval couldn’t remember his own paintings, and that he was “unreliable.”
“Mr. Robinson also agreed that Morrisseau could have had memory problems during the years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and certainly in 2007.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p13)
These were compromising chronological way posts on Norval Morrisseau’s tragic descent into deeper and deeper chasms of Dementia that had started many years earlier.
And saying, in effect, that Norval’s supposedly sworn Affidavits of Forgery, bearing Norval’s signature during these awful years of his physical and mental decline are not reliable or trustworthy.
Any more than the man who said they were…