Daily expansions – till March 21
The End of a “Starving” Artist – the Birth of an ART TERRORIST
“Over a period of a few years, I discovered that the business of art is one of the most corrupt, dirtiest industries on the planet. There are no regulations… It’s not pretty. The patina of loveliness that most people associate with art didn’t exist in the reality that I found. It was filled with criminals – and a lot of different kinds.” (Bonnie Czegledi, quoted, Hot Art, Knelman, p25)
“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” WC Fields
“Some things are just meant to be… So I believe the reason I met Norval was because I was meant to. Not because of his greatness but because of our mutual greatness…” (Ritchie Sinclair CIUT FM radio interview with David Peterson, Sep. 28, 2008)
“Brian Shiller: Kinsman Robinson Gallery, they represent you ever?
Ritchie Sinclair: No, they never represented me.
Brian Shiller: Why not?
Ritchie Sinclair: They represent Norval Morrisseau.
Brian Shiller: But why not you?
Ritchie Sinclair: Well, in a sense there’s a, there’s a competition; I mean, their show, they have a show every year for Norval Morrisseau.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Feb 23, 2012 p126)
(ed: DUMB & DUMBER: Clearly the Robinsons told Sinclair that they can’t have TWO MORRISSEAUS represented in their Gallery. And Sinclair was dumb enough to believe it and repeat it, to an incredulous Shiller.)
“I was introduced to Ritchie Sinclair, by Christian Morrisseau, the son of Norval Morrisseau… and was later informed by Christian that he was the self proclaimed protégé and former short-term boyfriend of his father.” (Donna Child, Director of Artworld Gallery, on first meeting Sinclair at the Aboriginal Achievement Awards in March 2008)
“He (Norval) wanted a lover… he made a request of me that he wanted male companionship. And so I went out and I looked for male companionship for him and met Mr. Ritchie Sinclair… on the streets of Toronto.” (Wolf Morrisseau (Norval’s brother) to Judge Martial, Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Feb 24, 2012 p114)
“… as they (ed: the Albert Volpe crime family Nexus Gallery which Sinclair testified hired him out of school) were paying for materials and supplying him (Norval) with drugs and young boys, and a large house in the country… they began producing ‘limited’ editions of mechanically produced silk screens and would bribe Norval with dollars, dicks and dope to sign them.”
(Jack Pollock, “Dear M, Letters from a Gentleman of Excess” 1989, p172)
“I may suggest to you that the trial judge (ed: Deputy Judge Paul J Martial) could have easily condemned Mr. Sinclair as a liar, and chose not to… And I put it to you, as to your shaking your head that you’ve read this part of the evidence. It was crystal clear in my submission that Mr. Sinclair was caught in a lie.”
(Trial & Appeal Winning Defence Lawyer Brian Shiller, during the Appeal before The Hon Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson, Ontario Superior Court, from personal notes: taken Dec. 6, 2013)
“The trial judge was entitled to reject the evidence of Sinclair and to conclude it was unsupported and unreliable. Sinclair could produce no documentary evidence to support his assertion that a well organized forgery ring painted the works auctioned by Khan auctions.” (item 18, Ontario Superior Court 2013 ONSC 7801 Divisional Court File no. 209/13, the Judgment by the Hon Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson, Dec 17, 2013)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Ritchie Who? 1979 – 2007
Sinclair Praising the BDPs – 2007 – 2008
An Emotional Disaster for the Proverbial Starving Artist
Correspondence with Blogger Ugo Matulic
2008 Sinclair Tries to Kick-start a New Career
Sinclair’s Disastrous Scollard Street Show
– Sinclair’s Revenge – October 2008
The Deplorable Negligence of the Mainstream Media – Part 1
– CTV’s Coming Legal Disaster
So Where Did it All Start? – Sinclair & Morrisseau
SINCLAIR PUBLICLY ADMITS HE KNEW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF NORVAL MORRISSEAU, OR HIS ART, FOR THE FIRST THREE DECADES OF THE ARTIST’S PAINTING CAREER 1950 – 1980, AND THAT HE DIDN’T DISCOVER THE EXISTENCE OF SO-CALLED FAKES UNTIL LATE IN 2008, WHEN THEY WERE FIRST REVEALED AND POINTED OUT TO HIM, BY THE MAN HE CALLS “MY MENTOR,” DONALD ROBINSON. (Mentor means, “instructor, coach, trainer, tutor, teacher, guide, adviser.”)
And tellingly, the so-called fakes Robinson and Sinclair have since targeted together, were all BDPs from the 1970s, a period of Norval’s life and painting career of which Sinclair had absolutely no personal knowledge or experience.
SINCLAIR BECOMES THE ENFORCER
All Hell Breaks Loose Among Morrisseau Dealers and Collectors
– Zak Gets Paid with Some Genuine Imitation Woodland Art
– Sinclair Goes Physical Against his Targets In & Out of Court
Sinclair Becomes an Ersatz Lawyer
– Sinclair the Ersatz Lawyer: Part 1 – Discredited v Bugera
– Sinclair the Ersatz Lawyer: Part 2 – Discredited v Otavnik (Godfrey)
– The One-Handed Clap
Sinclair the Ersatz Lawyer: Part 3 – Discredited v Artworld (Martial)
– Sinclair Directing Lawyer Jonathan Sommer Part 1
– Sinclair’s “Kiss of Death”
– Sinclair Lashes Out at First Nations Artists
– Sinclair Lashes Out at Forensic Scientists
Sinclair the Ersatz Lawyer: Part 4 – Discredited v Otavnik (Lacavera)
Sinclair the Ersatz Lawyer: Part 5 – Discredited v Artworld Appeal (Sanderson)
– Lawyer Jonathan Sommer Posts a Job Ad in the Ottawa Citizen
– Sinclair Directing Lawyer Jonathan Sommer Part 2
The Indian/Impostor Impersonator, Says: “Just saying, makes it so”
Not So Fast #1 – Says: Justice Thomas R Lederer
Not So Fast #2 – Says: Judge MD Godfrey
Not So Fast #3 – Says: Dep. Judge Paul J Martial
Not So Fast #4 – Says: The Hon Justice Alphonse T Lacavera
– “A Fucking asshole”
Not So Fast #5 – Says: The Hon Madam Justice MA Sanderson
The Meatgrinder Sitemeter Says Sinclair Sent the Anonymous Death Threat
– “Oh so Vile!” Anonymous Emails Forensically Traced to Sinclair
– Dumb, Dumb & Dumber: Sinclair’s Friend the Dung Beetle Doctor
Ritchie Who? – For reasons known but to Sinclair, for 28 years since he first supposedly met and briefly moved in with Norval Morrisseau, at the end of 1979, Sinclair had totally kept out of both the public spotlight and been totally disconnected from the evolving world of Norval Morrisseau, Canada’s most celebrated Aboriginal artist, and his art.
Yet shortly after the death of Morrisseau (December 2007) Sinclair suddenly projected himself, holus bolus, and aggressively, into the public eye, declaring that he had been Morrisseau’s chosen protégé, his key associate, his Woodland School heir, and had worked with him, constantly, for 20 (or 28) years.
No Academic Attribution – In all those years Sinclair, who now claimed to have been the key figure in Norval’s artistic life, his designated protégé, and the inheritor of his painting school, had successfully kept any and all of his past links to Norval totally hidden from Morrisseau academics, leading Morrisseau art dealers, writers and the media, and out of every single magazine article, academic monograph, newspaper article, art book, or show catalogue that dealt with Norval Morrisseau and his art.
No KRG Retrospective Mention – In October – December, 2012 Kinsman Robinson Galleries held what it called “Norval Morrisseau 2012 Retrospective: Honouring 50 Years of Morrisseau History.”
Yet, though KRG published photos of others with Norval, it could find not a single photo of Ritchie Sinclair working with him. In fact KRG made not a single mention of Sinclair, at all, even once, in a 50 year summary tribute to the artist.
No Film or Video Records – Sinclair had managed to keep out of every film or television segment ever made about Morrisseau. And had avoided being mentioned or shown in any of them.
No Working Photo Record – Nor was any photo ever produced showing Sinclair and Morrisseau painting together, or in any other activity.
No Witness Testimony – Nor has any witness ever come forward, or been produced, in any court to testify to being aware of a working painting relationship between Sinclair and Norval Morrisseau.
By Unanimous Agreement – Numerous longtime and reputable Morrisseau and Aboriginal art gallery owners are in agreement on one thing: they never ever heard of Ritchie Sinclair, or never knew of him, or even his background as an artist, before he started to promote himself, in 2008, as something he was not, or never was.
No Mention by Norval – And neither has Morrisseau himself, in major writings on his career, published in 1997, and 2005, made even a passing reference to the man who has pompously gone around, since Norval died, as “Ritchie Stardreamer Sinclair, the chosen Protégé of Norval Morrisseau.”
In fact Brian Marion, a Cree artist, was Norval’s well documented long-term companion and was well-known as Norval’s protégé. Brian Marion was photographed working with Norval – he appeared numerous times in Lister Sinclair’s coffee table book – and appeared with Norval at public functions, including when Norval received the Order of Canada, with Brian photographed beside him.
In fact there is a letter, from 1986, where Norval does talk about Ritchie Sinclair, but it is only in unflattering terms. Norval wishes he hadn’t turned up, and he had to get rid of him because Sinclair was just a damn nuisance with his mouthing off.
It is an Incontrovertible Fact that when Norval Morrisseau, Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, died, in December 2007, as a totally Dementia-debilitated and Parkinson’s ravaged wheelchair invalid, no one had ever heard of Ritchie Sinclair, who suddenly turned up – as a prominent blogger and “comment” writer to various Morrisseau publicizing websites.
He was everywhere posting how ecstatic he was about Norval’s art – ALL of Norval’s art… And he lavishly praised those, like Ugo Matulic, who publicized his art. He would do so, without reserve for the next eleven months.
And Sinclair would do so, without a single word about fakes of any kind in all that time…
As the months passed, Sinclair privately decided to use Norval’s death, and his brief undocumented association with the artist, as an opportunity to promote his own failing art career, and to surface on the Canadian art scene with a newly invented title and persona as “Ritchie “Stardreamer” Sinclair, chosen protégé of Norval Morrisseau.”
He revealed his plans for personal self-promotion in a year-long email correspondence that Sinclair initiated with Calgary blogger, Morrisseau collector, and enthusiastic publicist, Ugo Matulic, in 2007.
Praising the BDPs*** – Starting immediately after Norval’s death in December 2007, Sinclair wrote to various bloggers praising all Norval’s art, calling all the 1970s BDPs that had flowed out of northern Ontario as Morrisseau’s death approached, “masterpieces.”
(***BDPs are Norval’s 1970s, high period paintings from his most prolific period, which he signed, titled, and dated, with large black dry brush writing on the back, which has allowed several top forensic scientists and handwriting analysis experts, between 2007-2014, to authenticate Norval’s handwriting, with DNA certainty – on some 70 different paintings – and hence to dismiss self-invented, self-interested claims by Donald Robinson, Morrisseau’s principal art dealer during the last decade of the artist’s painting career, that these are fakes.)
(In 2001, Toronto art dealer Donald Robinson had invented and spread his self-serving claim that Morrisseau’s 1970s BDP paintings were fakes in order to eliminate them from the marketplace (but only after he, himself had personally bought 31 of these 1970s paintings for $54,000). After he realized the flood of 1970s paintings coming to market was threatening to drive down the prices of Robinson’s 1990s Morrisseau paintings, he invented the “Morrisseau Hoax”, and spread the word that the 1970s paintings his competitors were selling were fakes.)
Starting on Dec. 23, 2007, Sinclair wrote many laudatory emails to Blogger Ugo Matulic who had written countless blogs illustrating and praising Morrisseau’s art, especially the 1970’s BDPs.
“I have watched your blog grow and glow! It’s a classy piece of work…Good work!… Your website is my favourite Morrisseau website for many reasons… I have envisioned a possibility where you and I could harmonize forces to facilitate the ‘Morrisseau’ movement as a whole, and in a general sense. We both appear to share a healthy respect for Sprit and for The People’ voice. For now I just wanted to touch base with you. Where do you live? Ritchie, Toronto.”
Sinclair would go on to extravagantly praise the Matulic blog and all the 1970s BDP paintings, like Michael Moniz’s “Father and Son 1977,” that he posted there, and especially singling out “Water Spirits 1979” for special praise:
“And a beautiful Morrisseau it is – so embued (sic) with Vision!” (on Dec. 24, 2007).
Fast Forward – Months later, on Aug. 26, 2008, Sinclair would ask Matulic to please remove this comment as he was getting pressured, obviously, I believe by the Robinson cartel.
Even later Sinclair would denounce this same “beautiful Morrisseau” he had effusively praised, as a complete fake, and celebrate when it was defaced as a “fake,” in public, in front of TV cameras in 2010, by arch-Conspiracy Theorist Bryant Ross.
What was going on? Why would Sinclair be so strong in his praise of Morrisseau paintings, then make a sudden about-face, and call all the paintings he had praised, fakes?
Foreshadowing – An incident in 2004 gives us a telling insight into Sinclair’s character, and a foreshadowing of what was to come in the unfolding of the Morrisseau HOAX that was to ramp up into high gear in October 2008, thanks to Ritchie Sinclair.
An Emotional Disaster for the Proverbial Starving Artist – Only four years before, on Valentine’s Day, 2004, it must have been a first class emotional disaster for the 47 year-old Sinclair, when paintings he had painted sold for only $25, $55 and $100 each, when they were auctioned off at Randy Potter Auctions, in Port Hope, Ontario. One large painting of 28 panels, each two feet by two feet, sold for only $32 per panel. (Court Trans/ Queen v Otavnik, Randy Potter, March 5, 2013)
The Sinclair paintings had been part of the contents of a storage locker which had previously been sold off by the storage company when Sinclair had failed to pay his bills. When the buyer of the contents found First Nations-style paintings in the lot he had purchased, he consigned them to Potter’s auction, because it sold a lot of First Nations paintings. (Source: testimony of Randy Potter, Q v Otavnik, March 5, 2013)
When Sinclair learned that paintings done by him were to be sold at Randy Potter’s Auctions, he did not call the auctioneer and ask for information, or ask him to help negotiate with the consignor, so that Sinclair could get his paintings back.
Instead, Sinclair used his heavy-handed malicious and bullying attack technique, which, a few years later, would become familiar to Sinclair’s targeted victims, to try to intimidate Potter.
Tom Hagan had a choice… – Sinclair had his longtime personal and family lawyer, Zak Muscovitch, send Potter a threatening letter packed full of false information, claiming – an absolute and total lie in every way – that Potter was responsible for the actions of the storage company, and threatening Potter with immediate legal action if he went ahead with the sale of his client’s paintings.
Several years later, in testimony for a separate case for which Muscovitch had prepared and notarized a false affidavit for Sinclair who was now maliciously targeting someone else, Muscovitch would describe his view of a lawyer’s role:
“…it’s not my position to adjudicate disputes as a lawyer. My position is to advance the interests of my clients within the rules of professional conduct and the bounds of the law, and that’s exactly what I did for Mr. Sinclair… (Zak Muscovitch testimony in Q v Otavnik Jan. 12, 2012)
In other words, lawyer Muscovitch admitted he will say or write anything his client tells him to, without regard for truth, decency, or supporting evidence, as long as he doesn’t get disbarred or go to jail for doing it. Some might see an obvious parallel to Tom Hagen (lawyer for “The Godfather”).
But auctioneer Randy Potter is not easily intimidated by aggressive lawyer’s letters making false allegations about paintings he didn’t even own. He checked with his own lawyer, then ignored the improper letter from Muscovitch which totally distorted the facts, and he went ahead and sold the Sinclair paintings to the highest bidder. They went for some $25, $32, and $55 a piece.
Neither Sinclair nor Muscovitch followed up on their empty threats of legal action.
And Sinclair, who made a special trip to Potter’s Auction for the sale, was unable to be the winning bidder to reclaim his own 28 panel masterpiece.
Years later, under oath, Sinclair would tell Judge Godfrey his paintings “were stolen by Randy Potter, thank you… nice scam.” P 187 (Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair: Mar 18, 2010 p187)
Truth, or the lack of it, would never stand in the way of any wild and unsubstantiated claim made by Sinclair. Nor would his failure to provide the required evidence and documentation to back up his claims ever bother him.
That same night (Feb 14, 2004) that Sinclair was at Potter’s Auctions to try to buy back his own paintings, auctioneer Potter was also selling some genuine Morrisseau paintings consigned by David Voss, a longtime collector and dealer from northern Ontario. The Morrisseaus sold for several thousand dollars each.
Auction manager Donna Shea later testified before Judge MD Godfrey.
Q. Did you talk to Mr. Sinclair?
Donna Shea: Yes, I did.
Q., Did he comment on the Morrisseau paintings for sale that night?
Donna Shea: Yes, he did. After the auction he was standing staring at the wall which had several Morrisseaus up, and I asked him what he thought, and he was saying they were beautiful, that he had no money to buy a Morrisseau, he would love to have a Morrisseau, and that this was the type of painting that he would love to have.
(Court Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair: Mar 18, 2010 p9)
That was only time that Sinclair ever attended Potter’s auction, even though Potter was to sell about 1,800 genuine Morrisseaus there, to some 200 of Canada’s top fine art collectors and dealers, over a ten year period.
And in all that time, not a single solitary buyer ever brought back a single Morrisseau painting claiming it was fake, demanding a refund or exchange. Not a single one, giving Potter a customer satisfaction rating of an unheard-of 100% out of some 1,800 individual sales, a truly enviable sales record of customer satisfaction to anyone in a retail industry. And that includes Donald Robinson, the self-described “Principal Morrisseau Dealer,” who preferred to keep ALL of his 31 Potter-bought Morrisseau paintings as well and went on to sell, most of them as he told Judge Martial “for a small profit.” (Court Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair: May 31, 2011 p17)
Self-education, self-development, and research was never a strong suit for Sinclair, a high-school and community college drop-out, who was apparently not interested in examining the Potter paintings to see what he could learn from the great variations in age, condition, and obvious signs of their past life, from having passed through many hands.
The Bully and the Lawyers – This bullying technique by Sinclair, of using a lawyer who didn’t care whether what he wrote on behalf of his client was true or false, would foreshadow events to come, after an embittered Sinclair did a sudden about-face in October, 2008, switching from praising 1970s Morrisseau paintings to become the main public promoter of the Robinsons’ invented and self-serving claims of “thousands of Morrisseau fakes by umpteen forgers.”
Lawyer Zak Muscovitch would become one of Sinclair’s major tools for advancing Sinclair’s hidden agenda of malice and revenge against galleries who had turned down Sinclair’s requests to become a gallery artist, and collectors who would not buy Sinclair’s imitation Woodland-Indian-style art, either because it did not appeal to them, or because he was not a First Nations person.
In 2009, when lawyer Muscovitch was sued by Joseph Otavnik for preparing and notarizing a false affidavit for Sinclair that falsely alleged criminal behavior by collector Joseph Otavnik and his family, Muscovitch retained lawyer Jonathan Sommer to defend him.
Shortly after that, Jonathan Sommer became part of the lucrative industry of suing art galleries targeted by Sinclair.
And so was born the unofficial team of Sinclair, Muscovitch and Sommer, who would help advance the public spread of the “Morrisseau Hoax” from 2009 on, each for their own motives.
Sinclair’s motive would be malice and revenge against the galleries who had turned him down as a gallery artist, and declined to represent him and sell his art, and against Morrisseau collectors who would not buy Sinclair’s art.
A Lucrative Make-work Project – The lawyers would benefit by having jobs created for them each time Sinclair persuaded another poor innocent victim that the genuine Morrisseau paintings he/she had purchased were actually fakes, and that he/she should spend 40 or 60 thousand dollars on legal fees to try to prove the painting they had purchased as genuine, from a reputable dealer, for $10,000 was a forgery. Nice…
Not a Forgery in Sight – But until October, 2008, when Sinclair “jumped the fence” to become the active public face of the hoax invented and spread by Kinsman Robinson Galleries and their close cronies, there would be no mention of fakes whatsoever from Richie Sinclair.
2008: SINCLAIR TRIES TO KICK-START A NEW CAREER
Ritchie’s Desperate Search for a Gallery – In the spring of 2008, Sinclair’s artistic fortunes seemed to be looking up.
For some time he had been asking various Toronto art galleries to exhibit his own art and had been turned down, in turn, by each of: Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Maslak McLeod Gallery, Artworld of Sherway Gallery, and the Liss Gallery, among others.
Finally, Sinclair did find one gallery. The Scollard Street Gallery, which in a desperation move, just before it went bankrupt, offered to give Sinclair a show in September 2008.
Full of bluster, an elated Sinclair wrote Ugo Matulic:
“I have been approached by Kinsman Robinson***, and the Liss Gallery*** here in Yorkville (along with the Scollard Street Gallery). As you know, it’s best for people like us, to keep a safe distance from sharks so I’m going with this gallery instead of those mixed up in the “Morrisseau” wars. It would be wonderful to have your support in any way you see fit.” (Apr 2, 2008).
(*** These private boasts were obviously not true. In fact Sinclair had been rejected by them both, and KRG has never featured him as a gallery artist, or given him a show of his paintings, at any time since Donald Robinson says he first ever even heard of Sinclair or first met him in 1997. But KRG personnel have certainly aggressively courted him and sought him out as a propagandist, and enforcer, to advance the Hoax on their behalf.) (Court Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair: 2010 p130)
Clearly Sinclair was aware of the HOAX – and was just biding his time to see on which side of what he called the “Morrisseau wars” his best advantage lay.
Again, he confided his marketing plan and its rationale to his then friend, blogger, Ugo Matulic. And his growing narcissist complex, hinting broadly that he is communicating with Norval who is now in the Spirit World.
“Here is some writing about my “using Norval’s name” to promote my career that you can also post if you wish.
“In my new Exhibition, “Spirit”, I am capitalizing on Morrisseau’s name and fame, however my motive for doing so is not financial. Long ago Morrisseau chose to plant a seed Vision within me…
“Norval fully supports this initiative, as do other First Nations elders. When “$” people question the integrity of “using his name” I’ll just say that I’m doing my job, just as Norval wished me to. He wants me to “use his name”!
“For Stardreamer the “emergence” begins on September 6, 2008, at the Scollard Street Gallery (112 Scollard Street in Toronto). On the very street where Morrisseau’s art career was fashioned and became fashionable “Spirit will be moving”. (email to Ugo Matulic, Aug 26, 2008, emphasis by Sinclair)
“Ritchie Sinclair Stardreamer Toronto, Canada”
Sinclair even asked Blogger Ugo Matulic – in between extravagant gushes of praise for his blog work and the Morrisseau 1970s BDP paintings he published – to buy one of Sinclair’s own paintings for $10,000 to help him pay his framing costs for the show.
“Price-wise – In following Jack Pollock’s premise, my work as Norval’s chosen protégé should sit at about 45% of Norval’s market value… If you would consider purchasing it (ed: Sinclair’s own ‘Destiny’ painting) at $10,000 it would go a long way to making everything unfurl like “Destiny!” (email to Ugo Matulic, Apr 2, 2008)
A telling insight into the wildly bloated self-importance of Sinclair, whose art had sold for worse than “starving artist prices” of $25 and $32 each at Randy Potter’s auction.
Only a few days before his Scollard Street Gallery show was to open, Sinclair, AKA Stardreamer, sent Matulic an urgent request:
“Hi Spirit Walker. It’s Ritchie. Will you do me a favour and remove this comment*** I made from your blog? People are using it to attack me and I can’t afford to get in the middle of this right now.” Our work is too important! I love your blog, as you know, and I continue to appreciate your support of my work (and you). Attached is an ad for my new show (Hope you can attend!). I’d love it it you chose to post it.” (email to Ugo Matulic, Aug 26, 2008)
Clearly Sinclair was teetering on the fence, trying to figure out where his best advantage lay. On the one hand, Matulic had not yet replied about buying Sinclair’s $10,000 painting. And on the other, KRG personnel were pressuring him with their offer to publicize and promote him on their corporate web site.
But obviously, there were conditions they demanded.
***Sinclair sent Matulic a link to what he wanted removed, pronto…
comment: Stardreamer said…
“And a beautiful Morrisseau it is – so embued with Vision!”
By completely reversing himself on the authenticity of a painting, in only a few months, and bending their way, by now denouncing as a fake, a painting he had praised as beautiful, Sinclair did KRG a big favour. He also gave them the URL NorvalMorrisseau.com “for safekeeping.” Not, you will notice to the Morrisseau family – the most obvious choice for the URL – whom both Sinclair and KRG, inexplicably seemed to hate.
The Robinsons continued to work hard to court and woo Sinclair to their side. On the night before his Scollard show opened they shot a video interview of Sinclair (in which he says nothing of note or consequence – specifically there is Nothing, Nix, Nada, about fakes or a syndicate of forgers) which they then posted on the KRG web site.
In fact Sinclair confessed to having no clue, as late as Oct. 5, 2008, one way or the other, on the issue of fakes, as he wrote to blogger John Zemanovich:
“There is a feud of sorts underway between various parties with regard to what is a Morrisseau forgery and what isn’t. Its a grand mystery. One that only a great trickster could dream up (guess who?)” (Ritchie Sinclair to John Zemanovich, AKA Raven, Oct. 5, 2008)
(***Zemanovich was a collaborator of KRG, and the Conspiracy Theory, and would soon become bosom buddies with Sinclair and Mark Anthony Jacobson, the other KRG enforcer, to perpetuate the HOAX of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.”)
The last friendly email Sinclair would ever send to Matulic in Calgary was dated Sept. 7, 2008, the day after the opening of Sinclair’s show.
“I felt your support of my exhibition – and I want you to know that I know you were there in Spirit – and it is appreciated… My best to you and yours, Ritchie”
On October 5, 2008, Sinclair praised blogger Ugo Matulic (AKA Spirit Walker) again, on the John Zemanovich website:
“Just to clarify – the “Spirit of Shamanism” is an inclusive energy. I certainly don’t mean to imply that Spirit Walker is the “enemy”. Far from it – this man’s passion for the school and the artwork, (whether forged or authentic) deserves my respect. I also enjoy his sense of style and design in developing his blog…
“Spirit Walker’s work was largely responsible for inciting the creation of the KRG blog (the “camp” where I first posted the statement above). He has galvanized the internet effort to clarify the breadth of the body of Morrisseau’s art. He was the first with the energy and vision to give a voice to Morrisseau enthusiasts on the internet. Well done Spirit Walker! Good work…
“The Great Spirit is inclusive. We are brothers and sisters. Norval is a master magician and we are co-actors in a drama of extraordinary proportions.
“Spirit Walker has a starring role.” (Ritchie Sinclair to John Zemanovich, AKA Raven, Oct. 5, 2008)
Clearly, Sinclair was still hoping for that $10,000 sale to Matulic…
Note: Astonishingly, a few months later all Sinclair’s emails to Matulic would be “anonymous” hate mail, including one vile “death threat” that was traced by Matulic’s sitemeter to the C: drive of Stardreamer’s computer.
SINCLAIR’S DISASTROUS SCOLLARD STREET SHOW
“Ersatz Art” – Alas, but, predictably, Sinclair’s Scollard Street show exhibiting Sinclair’s imitation “Woodland art,” called “ersatz” (artificial, substitute) by one gallery owner, was not successful. It drove the final nail into the coffin of the Scollard Street Gallery, which soon closed its doors permanently.
When the Scollard published a long farewell list of gallery artists it thanked for their support over many years, the name of the 51 year-old Ritchie Sinclair was prominently missing from the list.
Imitation Indian Art – It must have become clear to Sinclair, that no one – not galleries nor collectors – wanted imitation Woodland Indian style art painted by an unknown white artist and poseur who went about dressed like Davy Crockett, took part in pseudo-Indian ritual ceremonies, chanted, what Jack Pollock referred to as pseudo “Indian mumbo-jumbo,” and used a pseudo-Indian name – Stardreamer – all apparently done to trick buyers, intent on purchasing genuine First Nations art, into believing Sinclair was a First Nations artist, and has in his “DNA,” the Aboriginal heritage and cultural background that is intrinsic to, inseparable from, and alone validates, the true Anishinaabe or “Woodland School” of art founded by Norval Morrisseau.
Sinclair Diabolically Misappropriating Norval’s Name – One of Sinclair’s most egregious misappropriations, as a non-Aboriginal Indian impostor, is his use of Norval’s name, NOT Sinclair’s name, in naming his web site, which he illegitimately calls morrisseau.com, instead of sinclair.com. It is just more of his mercenary trading on Norval’s name, which has accomplishments, instead of his own, which has none. His intention is to fool surfers into believing that this malicious and defamatory website has the approval of Norval, has some connection to the artist, and therefore is some kind of a legitimate voice for the dead artist and/or his family. Instead of what it is, just the totally unsubstantiated venomous allegations of Ritchie Sinlair.
In fact there is a lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court at present designed to get a judicial injunction ordering:
– Sinclair to give up his illegitimate claim to and improper usage of the morrisseau name on his website, so that it can be turned over to the Morrisseau family, and
– ordering him to shut down the fraudulent, libelous,
and defamatory website and its malicious falsehoods which have destroyed millions of dollars in the valuations of Morrisseau art in the hands of thousands of honest and reputable collectors and dealers.
Sinclair Indian Impersonator/Imposter – Sinclair’s make-over as an pseudo-Indian to affect a disguise to help promote his sales of imitation Indian art, also involved a name change and a DNA transfer.
“Stardreamer is the name Norval Morrisseau gave me on the day I met him.” (Court Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair: Mar 18, 2010 p185)
Everyone knows that the only names exchanged on first meetings, if any, are swear words…
Not in a million years has an Indian name ever been given to anyone when first meeting him. Indian names are bestowed only for long-standing behaviour patterns or accomplishments. Ritchie was a nobody to Norval, other than a dumb, gullible white guy to put something over on, which of course, Norval was deadly fond of doing. Making fun of white men has long been a favourite amusement of Aboriginal peoples.
But then Sinclair and Robinson, both classic gullible urban white dudes, with no Aboriginal connections or experience, would not have known that, and were easily taken in by this very common form of Indian amusement.
Two Hapless Dupes – Sinclair and Robinson (whom Sinclair called “My Mentor” during court testimony) both pretended to have a mystical relationship to Norval Morrisseau. It’s good PR to wow the pompositing ignoramuses of the buying classes along Yorkville Avenue.
“A: And my mentor, Norval Morrisseau’s principal art dealer, was also sued as a co-defendant for, according to Mr. Otavnik, for having links to me and doing an interview, a video interview with me that was on the website.
Justice Lacavera: I’m sorry, who was that person?
A. It’s a gallery, the Kingsmin (ph) Robinson (ph) Gallery. It’s in Yorkville, and it’s been the principal art dealer for Norval Morrisseau for about 25 years. (Court Trans/Queen v Otavnik: Jan 11, 2012 p21)
In 2008 Sinclair said:
“Norval came from Thunder Bay after he’d done paintings and had dreams about me… So he came to Toronto and he started running ads in the newspapers, looking for his protégé. I was the last person he interviewed. I guess you don’t need to interview any more once you find what you want.” (CIUT FM radio interview with David Peterson, Sep. 28, 2008)
Said Sinclair, to Judge Martial, of the very first time he had ever heard, seen, or met Norval:
“And at one o’clock or so he (Norval) came by. He recognized me right away, he told me, from dreams, premonitions through paintings that he had made in the two previous years; that I was the person that he was seeking and he told me why. He told me what my Indian name was; he said, “Stardreamer, where have you been? I’ve been looking for you everywhere. And, so I was hired that day.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 23, 2012 p104)
Said Robinson, the very first time he ever met or talked to Norval, in Aldergrove BC, in 1989:
“I told him that I had been thinking about him for some time. He astounded me by saying that he too had been thinking about me for some time though we had never met. The immediate empathy we felt for each other was totally unexpected and caught me by surprise. Before I left that day, he performed an Ojibwa ceremony with me, saying it would help bond our friendship. I was deeply moved.” (KRG blog, Aug 23, 2008)
James Stevens the much wiser biographer of Norval Morrisseau, and with decades of experiences with and among First Nations people in his background, easily recognized the folly of dumb white men who fell for this old Indian trick that Norval constantly effected on any hapless quarry.
The ploy tended to inflate Norval’s persona, in the eyes of white men, as some kind of shaman with super-human insight into the spirit world not given to mere mortals.
Wrote Stevens of one such entirely predictable encounter:
“Anyway, Noah and I are standing there chatting and walking up from Cumberland Street came a colourful Norval. He was quite sober. As we watched him come toward us I said to Noah, “Norval is going to say to me, ‘I knew I was going to see you today.’”
“Norval came up to us and stopped. He looked at Noah as if he was a worm, and said almost the same opening greeting as I had predicted. Noah was smiling broadly at this.
“Then I made an error, instead of letting Norval go on with his greeting, I said, ‘I knew you were going to say that to me.’ He always greeted me in this fashion and others too. A scowl came over Norval’s face and he said, ‘Stevens you are nothing but a mechanic!” (James Stevens, Picasso of the North Country, p175)
Clearly Norval had much better success at pulling his joke on two gullible white urban Toronto dupes than with an Aboriginally attuned James Stevens.
Unfortunately Sinclair and Robinson believed they had been graced with true Aboriginal paranormal activity, or said so, to enhance their own supposed “mystical” relationship to Norval and Aboriginal spiritualism.
When, in fact, it was all just Norval bullshit and they were just idiots, for having been taken in and compounding their folly be repeating it…
Aboriginal Artist? – In the beginning Sinclair allowed he was a white guy playing Indian. In a radio interview in 2008 he allowed he was picked for this reason.
“I was in art school at George Brown a fanatic Group of Seven artist… Norval came from Thunder Bay after he’d done paintings and had dreams about me. And about creating a bridge between the native First Nations and between quote the Europeans. So he came to Toronto and he started running ads in the newspapers, looking for his protégé. I was the last person he interviewed. I guess you don’t need to interview any more once you find what you want. The next day I was up north after meeting him with thirty natives and living a whole unique lifestyle. What Norval said to me is that the Sprit was the right of everybody, and that he wanted to teach Indians a few lessons, that they didn’t really own the Great Spirit, that it was everybody’s right, and that he wanted to pass this information over to the Europeans. So I’m his example.” (CIUT FM radio interview with David Peterson, Sep. 28, 2008)
That was the same thing Sinclair told John MacGregor Newman, Associate Director of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries, who referred to Sinclair’s acknowledged white parentage in a blog (long removed), written in his introduction to the interview he did with Ritchie Sinclair, on Oct. 14, 2008 in the KRG, and posted on John Zemanovitch’s website (also long removed). Wrote Newman:
“Ritchie immersed himself in learning Norval’s techniques and was personally chosen after an interview. Through osmosis, intense study and exposure to the thoughts and lessons of a master artist over several years, Ritchie arguably became the first non-native graduate of the Thunderbird School of Shamanistic Arts…”
Sometime after that Sinclair took a transfusion of new DNA, to add to his dreadlocks, his Davy Crockett jacket, his Stardreamer name, and his pseudo-Indian mumbo jumbo incantations. Hoping perhaps that it might increase sales of his imitation Woodland art.
In June 2010, when I passed the Lane Gallery (near Kinsman Robinson Galleries in Toronto’s Yorkville district), when it had a Sinclair painting in the window, I went in to inquire about the artist Ritchie Sinclair, and was firmly assured by the owner that Sinclair was indeed “of Aboriginal background.”
Now where would a gallery owner get that kind of utter misinformation? (A few months later the Lane Gallery would also go bankrupt.)
The source for this false claim is easy to track, by listening to Sinclair’s sworn testimony to Judge Godfrey: “the style of art that Morrisseau created didn’t exist before he created it. Um, there are hundreds of native artists that have been spawned from, from this, and I am one of them.” (Court Trans/Sinclair v Otavnik: Jan 11, 2010 p2)
“Otavnik: Mr. Sinclair, you talked about – are you native – by birth?
Ritchie Sinclair: I am part native.
Otavnik: Part native.” (Court Trans/Sinclair v Otavnik: Mar 18, 2010 p190)
Ritchie Who? Again… – Expressing similar sentiments as the owners of Maslak McLeod and the Liss Gallery, was Donna Child of Artworld who had been approached by Sinclair at the Aboriginal Achievement Awards in March, 2008.
“I did not know who Ritchie Sinclair was and was later informed by Christian (ed – Norval’s son) that he was the self-proclaimed protégé and former short term boyfriend of his father. The following day I received a phone call from Ritchie Sinclair… he told me that… I should consider featuring his paintings in the gallery. At this time I was unaware that Sinclair was even a painter… I did look at Ritchie’s paintings on the internet and immediately concluded that his work was not suitable for our gallery, as it lacked the skill, intensity, and insight that other First Nations painters possessed.”
“I also discovered that Ritchie Sinclair was not a First Nations person – making his claim that Norval appointed him his Protégé unfathomable. I did not speak with him again on this matter.”
“Within a period of approximately six months Ritchie Sinclair had been rejected by several galleries and his claim to be the protégé of Norval Morrisseau was not taken seriously by galleries or collectors (he held a solo exhibit in Yorkville that was a disaster and closed early). Ritchie very quickly became a very disgruntled artist with no possible way of convincing the art community of his Protégé status based on his own painting abilities and merit.” (Affidavit/ Donna Child, Artworld of Sherway).
Sinclair Rant – Shortly after the Scollard Street Gallery show disaster, according to court testimony by Maslak McLeod owner Joseph McLeod, a very agitated Sinclair came raging into his gallery just down the street.
Sinclair’s first complaint made it obvious to McLeod that he desperately wanted to ingratiate himself with Donald Robinson, owner of the nearby Kinsman Robinson Gallery. Sinclair was clearly irate that Robinson had failed to recognize or acknowledge Sinclair’s self-declared expertise that he claimed about Morrisseau. Testified McLeod:
“He came into my gallery and I did not know him. I think I might have seen him two or three times. And he was irate because he had not been asked by Kinsman Robinson to be part of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society.
(Note: The Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society was a branch plant of the KRG and was a group of academic kaffeeklatsch types and ersatz Morrisseau pompositors, who were supposed to examine Morrisseau paintings to determine if they were genuine. All according to Robinson who told them which paintings to pick, which paintings to destroy, and what to say about it all.)
“And I was shocked. I had no idea that he had any interest in this kind of thing, I didn’t know what his background was, and I didn’t know who he was. And I explained to him that it was not, I don’t think, the choice of Kinsman Robinson to decide who was going to be on the board, and that I guess, to summarize, he was out of his realm.
“They were asking for the daughter of Marshall McLuhan, who had written two or three books on the subject matter, classic, early books. They were asking, uh, the curator of the National Gallery, they were asking academics from Carleton University so my suggestion was, I didn’t have the slightest idea where he placed himself to think that they would ask him to be on the Heritage Society.” (Joseph McLeod testimony p 31, Otavnik v Sinclair March 18, 2010)
(Note: Sinclair has completed no post high school education.)
Sinclair then called Joe McLeod and his son “fat cats,” And ranted and raved that he was “going to take down the whole Morrisseau market.”
“He, he was angry and he said something to the effect, “oh, man, do you want to talk? Do you want to talk? Oh, man, do you want to talk? And I said, “no.” And, my son was there, and he stood up, and he was extremely belligerent, and he said… Hey, man, fat cats. And I said, “Hold it. You know, what are you talking about? And, uh, he said, “I am going to take down the whole Morrisseau market. I am going to and he ranted on and on. And finally I said, listen, you know, get out.” (Joseph McLeod testimony p 32, Otavnik v Sinclair March 18, 2010)
Astonishing About Face – On October 13, 2008, Ritchie Sinclair did an astonishing and complete about face, going from a year long public praising of ALL Norval’s art of all kinds, to starting his website viciously attacking ALL the galleries, people, and paintings he had publicly praised only days before.
Malicious & Defamatory Website: A now obviously very bitter Ritchie Sinclair, who had kept his head out of the public eye for some 29 years, since he had first, and briefly, attached himself to Norval Morrisseau, seized the public stage with a vengeance, mounting a malicious and defamatory website which listed some 1,000 of Norval’s paintings as “inferior counterfeit Morrisseaus,” “forgeries,” and “fraudulent.” He included numerous paintings that are in famous Canadian and American museums.
And he attacked prominent Aboriginal artists as creators of forgeries, and claimed that many of Canada’s reputable and leading gallery owners who were promoters of First Nations art and artists, were fraudulently selling Morrisseau fakes.
Over the next few years special targets of Sinclair’s venom were predictable: Maslak McLeod Gallery, Artworld Gallery, auctioneer Randy Potter, art collector Joe Otavnik, long time Morrisseau expert Joseph McLeod, art dealer Michael Moniz, blogger Ugo Matulic, etc.
Anti-First Nations – With exceptional venom Sinclair used his web site to publish malicious claims targeting various artist members of the Morrisseau family as well as other leading Aboriginal artists, including Dr. Goyce Kakegamic, and Don Ningewance, denouncing them all as forgers and purveyors of fakes, etc.
Sinclair’s malicious activities have been blamed for destroying $100 million in the art valuations of Norval Morrisseau’s art and that of Canada’s First Nations artists generally.
I consider this the greatest act of cultural genocide in Canadian history, as a direct result of what I consider the Greatest HOAX in Canadian history, Donald Robinson’s false and self-serving claim that there is a fraud ring creating “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” of Morrisseau paintings out there.
THE HOAX WAS INVENTED IN 2001
The Morrisseau HOAX was invented, in May 2001, by Donald Robinson, (of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries) who was the Morrisseau cartel’s*** principal art dealer, in order to corner the market for their own “direct-from-the-artist-studio” paintings, and to discredit the genuine paintings being sold by their main business competitors, by falsely claiming those paintings were all fakes or forgeries.
Before 2001 there had never, ever been any suggestion of Morrisseau fakes in the market. What forger would possibly be stupid enough to fake paintings that the artist himself was selling on the street for next to nothing?
*** the cartel was a group of white businessmen, who surrounded an Aboriginal artist in decline, that first met in Aldergrove, British Columbia, in 1989, to listen to Donald Robinson outline his proposed plan to fix prices for Norval’s art, which had disastrously low evaluations at the time, because Norval had, for years, been selling his art himself from the streets, for next to nothing, or trading it for booze, drugs, food, or sex.
The cartel was comprised of Morrisseau, Robinson, Gabe Vadas, Bryant Ross, and Karl Burrows, all of whom would be involved in Norval’s art business. Norval’s “companion,” Gabe Vadas, took over Norval’s Power of Attorney in April 1990, and seized control over, and directed the declining artist’s personal, business, financial, and artistic affairs – in toto – till he died, virtually comatose, seventeen years later. (Source: Statement of Defence Otavnik v Vadas, May 8, 2007)
Parallel Development: As word leaked out, in Canada, around 1999, that the National Gallery of Canada would mount the first ever Retrospective for an Aboriginal Artist – the terminally-ill Norval Morrisseau – ravenous collectors from across northern Ontario, where he had lived and painted for decades, hoping to capitalize on Norval’s growing fame, scoured the countryside for the thousands of paintings Norval had sold there, door-to-door, and in the malls and streets of many small towns, and sent hundreds of them to auctions in southern Ontario.
The Master of the House of Invention – In 1999-2000 Robinson had personally bought 31 of these genuine Northern Ontario-sourced, Morrisseau paintings, at Randy Potter Auctions, for $54,000, but when he realized that the market would be flooded, which would hugely drive down the inordinately high prices he was charging at his high end Yorkville gallery, he had to come up with a self-serving strategy, to protect his family business and his son’s legacy.
THE DEPLORABLE NEGLIGENCE OF THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA Part 1
The Willfully, Lazy & Negligent Journalists of the Mainstream Media – The Robinson self-serving claim, of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” was eagerly, compliantly, and totally uncritically spread to the public as if it was factual, by Murray Whyte and the National Post, on May 18, 2001.
And this was done without any reference to any corroborating evidence, documents, independently verifiable facts, and without even asking or consulting the Dementia-debilitated artist himself, who was conveniently unavailable because he was locked away, by the cartel, in a terminal care facility in Nanaimo.
A “fakes” claim which, since October 2008, Ritchie Sinclair has been relentlessly and publicly promoting for Donald Robinson and Kinsman Robinson Galleries with his malicious and defamatory web site.
The HOAX, destroying the art heritage of Norval Morrisseau, ranks right up there with the Canadian Government’s cultural genocide residential schools policy, to “kill the Indian in the child.”
And the effect in the destruction of First Nations culture and the art heritage of Canada is every bit as lethal. The blatantly racist activities of the Morrisseau cartel have cast a black cloud over, not only the art of Norval Morrisseau, but the art of all Canadian First Nations artists.
In fact the destruction was noted by none other than sometime Kinsman Robinson Galleries and Sinclair colleague, John Zemanovich, a stockbroker and sometime Morrisseau art collector, who dismounted his own website in 2008 and wrote a farewell comment to KRG.
“Faced with a potential lawsuit, I had a choice to make about continuing the Blog. As I have no financial interest in the authentication issue either way, it is wise for me to exit given the new levels of nastiness this matter has reached. It appears that public statements by Ritchie Sinclair at morrisseau.com and on the KRG blog have caused this matter to boil over. I wish you all well and thank you for your comments and complimentary emails. Hopefully this matter gets resolved soon because it is killing the native art movement. Raven (AKA John Zemanovich)
As has happened so many times in Canadian history, it’s white guys doing it; and First Nations people who are the victims. This time their art and artists are the target and the losers.
Witless Complicity of Mainstream Media Journalists Echo & Enable Sinclair – Sinclair’s activities at publicizing and trying to get the fraud firmly entrenched as a reality in the public mindset, has only been possible because of the witless complicity of journalists of the mainstream media, who, uniformly abandoned all protocols which are supposed to be followed by their profession in the interests of balanced journalism. Which is supposed to include checking out your sources, their credibility, their credentials, their motives, etc. and their proof – and that of other independent sources – for all the relevant facts.
It’s exactly because of this failure of due diligence by journalists of the mainstream media, specifically at the Globe and Mail, that they were successfully sued for libel and defamation – of himself and his genuine Morrisseau BDP paintings – by art dealer Michael Moniz, in June 2007.
In March 2009 the Globe settled out of court, paying Moniz some $25,000 for its libel and defamation of his genuine Morrisseau paintings.
In Feburary 2014, the Media Idiocy reached a new high of incompetence when CTV’s weatherman and sports guy, Jeff Hutcheson, featured the totally judicially discredited Ritchie Sinclair slanging a painting as a fake that had recently been authenticated by Morrisseau family members, a top Canadian forensic scientist, a judicial finding after the longest fine art trial in Canadian history, and the corroborative finding, of Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, who totally dismissed the Appeal launched by Jonathan Sommer who insisted it was a fake and was making good money doing so.
SO WHERE DID IT ALL START? SINCLAIR & MORRISSEAU
Rewind – Morrisseau family members have acknowledged (in published separate statements and in court testimony) that they are well aware that Sinclair, around 1981, was one of many young boys and young men who briefly became attached to Norval as apprentices, assistants, and “companions.” Norval later wrote (in 1997) that there were some 150 “followers” in all. Norval’s brother Wolf testified that Norval called them all his “protégés.”
(Unlike Sinclair, most of these Norval “companions” preferred a subsequent life of anonymity. Not Sinclair, who, went out of his way, repeatedly, to seek notoriety for himself and his opinions, by putting himself in the public eye, every chance he got.)
Specifically with regard to Sinclair, Wolf Morrisseau testified before Judge Martial that circa 1981 he hired young Ritchie Sinclair as a paid companion for Norval, who had sent him to Toronto to find young men to provide him companionship.
Wolf told Judge Martial the details of Sinclair’s relationship with his older brother Norval.
“A: I was living with my brother in Buckhorn, near Peterborough, and he made a request of me – he would send me to Toronto to go and buy groceries and whatever paints and supplies – and so he made a request of me that he wanted male companionship. And so I went out and I looked for male companionship for him and met Mr., Mr. Ritchie.
Q. I’m sorry…
A. Mr. Sinclair.
Q. …when you say ‘male companionship’ was he more specific?
Q. What do you mean by ‘male companionship’?
A. He, he wanted a lover.
Q. I see. And when you said you met Ritchie Sinclair where did you meet him?
A. I met him on the streets of Toronto.
Q. When you say ‘the streets’ what do you mean?,,,
A. He was just on the street. Yeah.
Q. Doing what?
A. I don’t know. He was just doing his thing.
Q. What was his thing?
A. I don’t know; I really do not know; I cannot answer that; honestly; I just saw him and I, I, I asked him, I said, “Do you know anyone that would entertain an artist?” And he said, “Well, what’s he paying?” I said, “Well, that’s not for me to decide but you can decide that with him.” And he agreed and we got in the car and we went to see my brother.
Q. All right; and can you describe what your brother’s relationship was with Ritchie Sinclair?
A. I believe they were very close friends; I believe that they experience (sic) more than just two guys being friends. I think they had a sexual relationship.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Feb 24, 2012 p114)
In Jack Pollock’s memoir, “Dear M,” he writes of Morrisseau’s descent into a Toronto urban life of homosexual excess.
“…he abandoned his wife and children… and began an incredible journey into total sexual indulgence. I have often fantasized about his coterie of beautiful young men (all hustlers, all very well paid with thousands of dollars in cash, which I provided from paintings sold) lots of drugs, and ritual pseudo-Indian ceremonies.” (Jack Pollock, “Dear M” p26)
Sinclair and another white man, also an Indian imposter, Gabe Vadas, took video of themselves involved in one of these pseudo-Indian ritual ceremonies in 1997 in the yard at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinberg, presided over by a very Dementia and Parkinson’s debilitated and largely incoherent Norval Morrisseau.
Note: Pollock, Norval’s primary dealer for 19 years, was himself a very public and rapaciously gay man, who died of AIDS he likely picked up in the wild Toronto bathhouse and Y scene that he and Norval frequented in the 1970s and 80s. But for all his own self-confessed aggressivity, Pollock said he was but a minor player, compared to Norval.
Pollock wrote he saw Norval return from one all-nighter, the evening before a CBC TV interview.
“To this day I don’t know what he met, but I think it was a bear. I’ve never seen so many hickeys. His whole neck was covered in huge bruises. He looked like the wrath of God. At the CBC, they had to do a make-up job like you’ve never seen, slapping pancake over the bruises.” (Jack Pollock, “Dear M,” p41)
Pollock wrote that later the Albert Volpe crime family bribed Norval to abandon Pollock and work for them,
“… as they were paying for materials and supplying him with drugs and young boys, and a large house in the country… they began producing ‘limited’ editions of mechanically produced silk screens and would bribe Norval with dollars, dicks and dope to sign them.” (Jack Pollock, “Dear M,” p172)
This was the exact time period that Ritchie Sinclair testified he got to know the Volpes, just before he said he went off to go live in a big house “up north.” Sinclair testified in court, that the Volpes were very nice people.
In fact, just as Sinclair claims he came on the scene with the Volpes and Norval, the end was already in sight for the brief “Toronto period” of Morrisseau’s life, and therefore any continuing ties of Norval with Ritchie Sinclair.
In December 1981 Pollock closed his gallery permanently, having lost his major artist to the mob.
Norval Flees Toronto for Thunder Bay – And only months later, in 1982, with Pollock gone, and increasingly scared of the mob, and their exploitation of him, Norval fled Toronto (and Ritchie Sinclair) for Northern Ontario, where he had lived and painted for most of his life. He went to Thunder Bay where he was to stay for several years working with his chosen art dealer and close friend Gary Lamont, in between moves to Winnipeg, and Jasper, Alberta. (Source, Pollock, “Dear M”)
NOTE: After Norval moved to Thunder Bay, he rented a house for three years from his old friend Will Hedican. Hedican told Stevens that Norval’s nephew Benji Morrisseau was one of his apprentices doing backgrounds and fill-in painting. So Lamont and Benji were in a working partnership with Norval Morrisseau in the years following 1982-1985.
Thirty years later, in 2013, the names of Lamont and Benji Morrisseau would resurface again, accused by Ritchie Sinclair and Jonathan Sommer in McDermott v McLeod as supposed forgers of Morrisseau art. With no published proof of any kind, just, again, the multiply-discredited “say so” of Ritchie Sinclair.
(In the 1980s Norval often lived on the streets of Vancouver, and in 1988 and 1989 he formed permanent relationships with new “protégés” Gabe Vadas and Karl Burrows, in the Vancouver region. In the last 18 years of Norval’s life (from 1989 till 2007) Burrows, not Sinclair was Norval’s artist assistant, with the latter-day preposterously pompositing Sinclair nowhere in sight at any time for any period.)
In Thunder Bay, Norval and Lamont together would arrange for the sale of a group of some 216 paintings to Norval friend and lawyer Ken Whent, during early 1984 – 1986, the provenance of paintings that will offer a valuable insight into the HOAX.
The authenticity and appraisal of these 216 paintings were to figure hugely in a Tax Court of Canada Court Case in 1995, when the Judge specifically excoriated Donald Robinson’s role as a credible appraiser before the court.
Justice Mogan would become the first of a long list of judges who utterly dismissed Donald Robinson as having far too much compromising self-interest to be a credible witness with regard to art by Norval Morrisseau.
SINCLAIR PUBLICLY ADMITS HE KNEW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF MORRISSEAU OR HIS ART FOR THE FIRST THREE DECADES OF THE ARTIST’S PAINTING CAREER
Rewind: Norval Who? – Sinclair himself testified that when he first met Norval – late 1979; others say it was 1981 – he had never even heard of Norval, or ever even seen a painting by him. (Though Norval was a famous Canadian artist and Order of Canada holder at the time.)
So how can Sinclair claim to be such an all-knowing expert on a period when he wasn’t even there?
“Now, this is the first day I’d ever seen a Morrisseau painting in my life. It was a big surprise that, that my teacher actually knew him; who he was… So that day, I was hired and, I went to live in Vandorf, Ontario, and work with him.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Feb 23, 2012 p105)
Note: In the radio interview, Sinclair says that the day after he was hired, he was “up north” living with 30 Indians. But in his testimony in the Hatfield v Artworld case, he said he was living with Morrisseau in Vandorf, Ontario, which is part of Stouffville, 5 km east of Aurora, and 20 km north of Markham. It is not “up north” and the house he described does not have “30 Indians.” Just more examples of his inventive testimony as he tries to remodel his past depending on the needs of the moment.
As Sinclair stated in a CIUT FM radio interview, on Sep. 28, 2008, when he was busy jump-starting his new art career:
David Peterson: “Had you had any exposure to the native lifestyle, to the native culture, to Aboriginal art per se?”
Sinclair: “I’d never had a whisper of it cross my world until the day I met Norval… Some things are just meant to be… So I believe the reason I met Norval was because I was meant to. Not because of his greatness but because of our mutual greatness…” (CIUT FM radio interview with David Peterson, Sep. 28, 2008)
Landmark Note 1: The Fake 1979s style BDP’s – Sinclair claims he went to work for Norval at the end of 1979. But there is no proof of that. Wolf Morrisseau recalled that he hired Sinclair in circa 1981, and all the existing corroborative proof from Sinclair himself, plus from Pollock being undermined by the Volpes in 1981, makes 1980 a more convincing compromising and supportive date.
Whether, as an ignorant novice, Sinclair started work in the fall of 1979, or in 1981, it means, incontrovertibly, that Sinclair had no experience whatsoever in the 1970s style BDP paintings which he was, suddenly, out of the blue, to begin to denounce as fakes 28 years later. He was not there when they were painted; he had no clue or expertise of the raw materials he would later claim were fakes. Which is one reason that explains why he was so totally and colossally wrong at misdiagnosing what, after 2008, he called “fakes.”
Note: Remember, unlike any other artist, Norval never had an inventory, so Sinclair also had no previous studio art – that is the 1970s style art – available to study or learn from. To Norval, his paintings were treated as instant cash and he sold them cheaply, and instantly, just after he painted them, for $20 or $30 just to get booze, food, a taxi ride, room and board, a quick drug fix or sex.
Other established artists, like Robert Bateman, who want $5,000 to $40,000 for a painting, will build up an inventory that will remain unsold for years. Not Norval.
So thousands of Norval’s 1970s paintings were gone and scattered all over northern Ontario, and were never ever seen by Ritchie Sinclair when he came on the scene c 1980. Sinclair, in Toronto, would therefore be totally ignorant of ALL of Norval’s 1970s paintings on which Norval’s self-described protégé was to pontificate to absurd lengths 28 years later.
Sinclair’s total lack of knowledge is also corroborated by the fact that:
1 – Sinclair did not recognize, detect, or publicize, a single 1970s fake from the entire period 1979 till October 2008.
2 – that he told Judge Martial in 2012 that all his research on the topic of the fakes was done in the past four years. “I’ve now – through four years of consistent daily study, I can tell you that my opinion is clearly that that’s Wolf Morrisseau (a forger) that painted that… that these, at the time, were old paintings that were fakes.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Jun 4, 2012 p2)
(Even though Wolf and Norval have patently and totally different painting styles.)
Sinclair admits that his hands-on experience, with genuine paintings, over 28 years had done nothing to educate him on forgeries; that all his research was done from October 2008 till he testified on June 4, 2012.
And of course all internet research of small, low resolution jpegs – he copied 99% of the images he posted as examples of fakes off the internet, never ever seeing the originals. Many were copied off Blogger Ugo Matulic’s site, and were exactly the same pictures Sinclair had been so exuberantly praising in 2008. Sinclair used inferior copies of educational materials that no genuine curator, art dealer, of forensic scientist would ever recognize as a substitute for hands-on examination of genuine paintings, which Sinclair, of course, did not have access to.
Landmark Note 2: The Lack of Fakes in September 2008 – In what is a truly stunning revelation in this same interview, in September 2008, is that there is not even a tangential reference by Sinclair to any Morrisseau fakes, forgers, forgeries, or syndicate of forgers, of any kind, or any mention of fake BDPs of any kind. And this, after 28 years of supposedly watching the Morrisseau scene…
(Sinclair’s view, at this time, totally mirrors, absolutely, the same “not an issue,” “non-mention” of any fakes by Norval in his personally written chapter in his book “Travels to the House of Invention” in 1997, and again in the re-edited version “Return” issued in 2005. In Norval’s estimation, by his clearly failing to mention in writing, the existence of any fakes of any kind, whatsoever, even as late as 2005, they neither existed or were not seen as even a minor problem.)
Gone Apoplectic – Only days later, in October 2008, in what can only be considered an astounding reversal of gigantic proportions, suddenly thousands of fakes, forgeries, and false BDPs, all produced by a diabolical group of forgers, was ALL that Sinclair would ever write, blog, email, or comment on in his writings, interviews, or court testimony.
SINCLAIR BECOMES THE ENFORCER
In 2008, the Kinsman Robinson Galleries operators had begun “courting” Ritchie Sinclair by doing a video interview with him and putting it on their gallery website. Robinson knew that Sinclair craved publicity and recognition, even notoriety.
IMPORTANT HISTORICAL NOTE: This is the very first time in this world or the next, that anyone – other than Sinclair himself – publishes anything on or about Ritchie Sinclair regarding Morrisseau, in the History of the Western World. And it’s done, not by a credible Morrisseau academic, or scholar, but by a self-serving art dealer who is working overtime to recruit a gullible enforcer to work for the Robinson gallery to attack their business competitors and advance their invented HOAX, of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.”
Robinson desperately needed Sinclair to be his propaganda tool and become a proxy target for impending lawsuits, so that Kinsman Robinson Galleries assets are not imperilled, but only Sinclair’s, who, of course has none.
Beginning in 2001, Robinson and his cronies had invented and spread the false rumours of “thousands of fake Morrisseau paintings created by umpteen forgers” “out there,” to enrich themselves by casting doubt on the validity of paintings sold by their competitors, thus knocking them out of the Morrisseau market.
But by November 2008 slanging genuine Morrisseau paintings was getting dangerous.
Landmark Lawsuit #1 – In June 2008 Otavnik won his landmark lawsuit against Vadas and Morrisseau for libelling him and defaming his genuine Morrisseau paintings, and they paid him $11,000 to shut him up.
Landmark Lawsuit #2 – Michael Moniz had a huge libel and defamation lawsuit against CTVglobemedia to protect his own genuine Morrisseau paintings slanged in a Globe article by Val Ross. (He would win $25,000 and a Globe gag order to shut up and go away. The lawsuit probably set the Globe back $50,000 in all.)
Is it any wonder the Robinsons were panicking, big time, and looking for a gullible foil?
The Robinsons had not yet been sued for the enormous devaluation of genuine Morrisseau art their invented stories, spread through a compliant press and media had caused. But, now the likelihood of their being sued successfully was a brutal possibility, staring them in the face.
KRG had lots of assets they could lose in a lawsuit.
Ritchie Sinclair, who was bitter, malicious, and thirsty for publicity and notoriety, had no assets – no house, no property, no art assets, or discernible income, and he is living in a rental apartment he shares with his roommate, Garth Cole, a City of Toronto employee.
The Enforcer Emerges – Probably because it paid better than his career as a starving artist, Sinclair soon took a job as an “Enforcer” for the Conspiracy Theorists, and was soon wildly claiming there were “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” out there, nothing of the sort he’d ever said before anywhere.
Sinclair has proven a godsend for the Kinsman Robinson Galleries. They have a maliciously fanatic, eager, and frenetic outreach worker, and enforcer, to take all the heat for wildly attacking people on the KRG hit list and maligning their reputations and their genuine Morrisseau paintings.
Sinclair does not let truth or the need for documentation or evidence stand in his way.
Sinclair is free to lash out in any direction, against any person or painting, with the wildest accusations for one simple reason. There will never be consequences of any kind for him, no matter what he says or does, or what he loses in a court case.
KRG posted on their gallery website a link to Sinclair’s malicious website, falsely labeling over a thousand Morrisseau paintings as fakes but, a few months later, had to remove the link and the video of Sinclair after Joseph Otavnik sued Donald Robinson and his gallery for promoting Sinclair who was devaluing and defaming Otavnik’s genuine art.
Anti – BDP – A special target of Sinclair became the thousands of Norval’s 1970s BDPs – from Norval’s most prolific “high period” which the artist had vigorously signed with large black dry brush signatures, titles, and dates on the back – which Sinclair had called “masterpieces” before.
Beginning in October, 2008, Sinclair soon had 1,000 low resolution pictures of BDP paintings, 99% of which he had never even seen, listed as forgeries on his web site.
The height of absurdity was reached when Sinclair targeted five paintings as bad fakes which Norval Morrisseau himself had included in his 1997 Kinsman Robinson Galleries book “Travels to the House of Invention,” as well as some from major American fine art museums.
“SUSPICIOUS, VICIOUS, MALICIOUS, & MERETRICIOUS”
All Hell Breaks Loose Among Morrisseau Dealers and Collectors
Shortly after October 2008 when Sinclair posted pictures of a thousand genuine Morrisseau paintings on his website that he claimed were fakes, all hell broke out among Morrisseau dealers, galleries, and collectors.
Sinclair included the names of the people and businesses who owned or were selling these paintings. His website particularly targeted art galleries and dealers who had refused to represent Sinclair as a gallery artist, and/or were competitors of Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Multiple Dealer Lawsuit – A month later, on November 21, 2008, five dealers/gallery owners (Bugera, McLeod, Child, White, Kim) filed their intention to start a lawsuit against Sinclair, suing him for $17 million, then filed a motion to have the court bring an interlocutory injunction against Sinclair’s website, i.e. to order the website taken down until the litigation was decided.
Sinclair’s well-known complete lack of assets was pointed out by the law firm of Symes & Street to the Group launching the lawsuit against Sinclair in December 2008.
“Symes & Street has explained to us that Sinclair does not appear to have any assets and thus, it is unlikely that we would collect on any damages awarded were we to be successful in the civil suit for defamation. We further understand that should the Court order Sinclair to pay any part of our costs, it is unlikely that we would be able to recover any monies from Sinclair.” (Source Symes & Street, Legal Doc Nov 21, 2008)
At the interim hearing for the interlocutory injunction on December 4, The Honourable Justice Thomas Lederer indicated that there was a very good chance that their full motion would be granted when it was held a couple of months later.
The law firm dropped out of the lawsuit, after billing its clients $80,000 for a few weeks work. The group fell apart when faced with this stark reality, laying out unbearable legal costs to chase a malicious indigent with no ability to pay, through the Canadian courts for some kind of justice.
Otavnik v Sinclair – On Dec. 22, 2008, fresh from his successful lawsuit against Gabe Vadas and Norval Morrisseau, in which he was paid off with $11,000 to shut up about them libeling him and defaming his paintings – Joseph Otavnik launched a lawsuit against Sinclair and Kinsman Robinson Galleries for jointly defaming and devaluing his painting “Jesuit Preist Brings Word 1974” on Sinclair’s website, and KRG for promoting Sinclair’s defamation.
Sinclair fought back. He had his lawyer, Zak Muscovitch prepare and notarize an affidavit that contained all kinds of vile and totally unsubstantiated allegations made up by Sinclair to submit to the multiple dealer lawsuit. It contained allegations that Joseph Otavnik and his family were involved in criminal activities. So Otavnik sued Sinclair’s lawyer, Zak Muscovitch.
Remember lawyer Muscovitch? He’s the same guy who sent a threatening letter filled with all kinds of false allegations and information to auctioneer Randy Potter back in 2004 when Sinclair’s own paintings were being sold, and went for yard sale prices.
Paid with Ersatz “Morrisseaus:” For an unspecified job Muscovitch did for Sinclair, he seems to have agreed to be paid in what he expected to be “Morrisseau” paintings. When his wife took some of the paintings to sell down the street to the Maslak-McLeod Gallery, to have Joe McLeod authenticate them and appraise them, she was shocked when McLeod announced that they were only “ersatz Morrisseaus,” in fact not Morrisseaus at all but imitation “Woodland art” paintings by Ritchie Sinclair. Joseph McLeod politely told her he was not interested in buying these paintings. It appeared to McLeod that the Muscovitch family couldn’t tell a Morrisseau from an imitation Woodland by Sinclair.
So the wife had to relate the sad news to Zak, that the paintings they had thought were worth multi-thousands, were worth only $20 or $30 bucks apiece. (Zak knew what Sinclair’s art prices were because he had been the lawyer trying to threaten Randy Potter to prevent him from selling a consignment of Sinclair art in 2004. The art was sold, anyway, for those pathetic amounts. But it was all that knowledgeable bidders thought Sinclair’s imitation Woodland art was worth.)
Enter: Jonathan Sommer: When Otavnik sued Muscovitch, Muscovitch was defended by none other than Jonathan Sommer, the same lawyer who would represent Margaret Hatfield in Hatfield v Artworld. Hatfield would pay Sommer, and Sinclair would direct him. As a result, Sommer lost both the case, and the later appeal (December, 2013).
But HOAX Plaintiff lawyer Sommer no doubt got paid anyway. Not only that, but he’s got two more cases lined up that are almost identical to the Hatfield case and are likely to end the same way, since Sommer will no doubt take his legal direction again, as documented multiple times before, from “community college” drop-out, now “ersatz lawyer” Ritchie Sinclair. More big losses coming up for the client; big bucks for the lawyer. Sinclair’s portion of it all is unknown.
In January, 2009, Ritchie’s pal Jonathan Browne had lawyer Zak Muscovitch sue Jackie Bugera, owner of the well-known Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton, claiming she sold him a fake Morrisseau painting. She was one of the five dealers involved in the multiple dealer lawsuit against Sinclair. Jackie’s family had a long association with Morrisseau, and she knew perfectly well that the painting was genuine. She would have won the case, but she did not even file a defense. She made a deal and took the painting back.
In July, 2009, Margaret Hatfield filed a Small Claims Court file against Artworld of Sherway, because she had been convinced by Jonathan Browne and Sinclair that a painting she bought there was fake. (source: Hatfield testimony in Hatfield v Artworld) Gallery Director Donna Child did not give in. She fought back and won her case. Judge Martial ruled that her painting was genuine, and that there was lots of evidence from people who had seen Morrisseau sign, title, and date, the backs of his paintings using black dry brush. Ms. Child was also one of the people involved in the multiple dealer lawsuit against Sinclair. She had also turned him down as a gallery artist.
In September 2009, Sinclair made up a huge list of false complaints against Joseph Otavnik who was suing Sinclair, and persuaded the Toronto police to charge Otavnik with criminal harassment. (The cop, Detective Frank Olsen, who brought the charges testified that he believed Sinclair because Sinclair was crying on the phone.)
After 3 years, 20 court appearances, and 5 full days of trial, The Honourable Justice Alphonse T Lacavera would find Joseph Otavnik not guilty on all counts, and would make it very clear in his 40 page ruling that he did not believe a thing Sinclair had said. He also stated he did not belief that there were “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers”
Enforcing Compliance at the Elmwood Spa – One of Sinclair’s “enforcer” jobs was to police compliance for KRG by getting genuine Morrisseau paintings that had been purchased from the Maslak McLeod Gallery, removed from an exhibit at Toronto’s well-known Elmwood Spa (owned by a member of the Thomson family, which is famous for a huge Canadian art bequest to the Art Gallery of Ontario.) Sinclair was also sent to make sure that a Morrisseau book launch scheduled for Nov. 10, 2010, was cancelled.
The show and the book featured many 1970s BDPs authenticated by Joe McLeod, Canada’s senior and most respected Morrisseau expert.
I watched (he didn’t know me then) as Sinclair, dressed in his Davy Crockett uniform, went from floor to floor of the Spa, to make certain the paintings he was maliciously and falsely calling fakes had all been removed by the very scared and intimidated young gallery curator.
She had earlier been phoned by Sinclair fellow enforcer and Donald Robinson friend, Mark Anthony Jacobson and viciously threatened with “or else” if she didn’t comply with the removals.
The curator told my wife, Joan Goldi, it was the most vile phone call she had ever received and that she was physically afraid as a result.
The Enforcer Goes Physical on the Street – On Sept 3, 2010 Toronto Police charged the 53 year-old Sinclair with Criminal Harassment resulting from 7 different incidents where he physically threatened 82 year old gallery owner Joe McLeod, at his car, on the street, at his place of work, and at his residence where Sinclair tripped the burglar alarm at 2 a:m. McLeod’s adult son and daughter had to physically run interference for their frail and very scared elderly father.
NOTE: McLeod – Canada’s senior and most reputable Morrisseau authenticator – had been the target of multiple acts of Criminal Harassment. He had also been the target of the enforcer at the Elmwood Spa, in the Hatfield case, and now, the Hearn case, and the McDermott case.
The Enforcer Goes Physical in Court – On Nov 16, 2010, in the foyer of a courtroom where I had gone to listen to Otavnik v Sinclair, someone had pointed me out to Sinclair. I was standing with my wife when Sinclair suddenly lunged at me and screamed, “What do you people think you’re doing!” causing me to lurch backwards.
Only minutes later, in his opening remarks to Judge Godfrey, Sinclair wildly demanded that I be removed from the courtroom. Judge Godfrey smiled and said “He’s entitled to stay; he’s a member of the public.”
Smashing Behaviour – On Sept 1, 2011, before the hearing of Hatfield v Artworld began, Sinclair slapped documents Joan Goldi was trying to hand him, violently out of her hand, and to the floor.
Sinclair’s email – Sinclair regularly sends “anonymous” threats to people he has targeted. The language used easily identifies the sender. He just can’t seem to help himself, even though he must know his actions are being reported to police. (THE DAMNING SITEMETER)
SINCLAIR BECOMES AN ERSATZ LAWYER
Sinclair the Ersatz Lawyer: Is Born – On April 1, 2009 Sinclair wrote to his once friend and correspondent Matulic bragging about his high self opinion of his abilities as a lawyer, though he had not graduated from high school or anything else either, since.
“You have 24 Hours to take down your defamatory statements about me. Alternatively I will have your site taken down and sue you for defamation. If you think I’m not serious ask your friends how they like dealing with the Canadian Court system and if Ritchie is up to the challenge.” (email to Ugo Matulic, Apr 1, 2009)
From October 2008, when Sinclair had done a complete about face, literally overnight, from praising 1970s Morrisseau BDP paintings, to denouncing them as fakes, the high school drop-out and starving artist suddenly committed himself to the HOAX, and went overboard in joining and promoting the self-interest of the small clique of Conspiracy Theorists hunkered down in the Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Since then, Sinclair appears to have become the chief publicist, and the director of legal operations for all the lawsuits alleging fakes, brought by those gullible people who have allowed themselves to be persuaded by Sinclair that they purchased fakes, and so should sue the gallery.
Sinclair the Ersatz Lawyer: Part 1 – Browne v Bugera – Sinclair was involved in initiating the lawsuit launched, on Jan. 15, 2009, by Dr. Jonathan Browne and Dr. Julie Witmer of Ottawa, Ontario, against Jackie Bugera and the Bearclaw Gallery, of Edmonton, Alberta, accusing her of selling them a fake, “Grandfather Speaks of Great Ansistral Warrior 1977.”
The painting had also been secretly slanged as a fake by members of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, probably at the water cooler at the National Gallery of Canada where Witmer and Browne were listed patrons right below Wallace “the potato man” McCain. It takes no brains to figure out that the two hometown NMHS members who sniped in secret were fellow Bytown bosom buddies, Ruth Phillips of Carleton U and Greg Hill, a curator at the NGC.
Beset by self-declared Morrisseau experts, Sinclair, Phillips and Hill, the good Doctors panicked big time, when they were assured “Grandfather” was a fake. Sinclair brought the Brownes together with his own lawyer, Zak Muscovitch – the attack dog Sinclair had used against Potter back in 2004 – to draw up the legal papers, with Sinclair providing the fine art content, assessment, and criticism. Zak had been Sinclair’s lawyer since 1998.
It is an astonishing thing how two obviously highly achieving academics, like the Doctors Browne and Witmer, can act so impetuously and idiotically at the behest of a high-school drop-out, even going so far as to publish a malicious and defamatory website “MorrisseauBuyersBeware.com” slanging Bearclaw Gallery, and “Grandfather” and other similar Morrisseaus as fakes.
The Drs. Browne and Witmer – both noted art patrons of the National Gallery of Canada – suddenly transformed themselves, via a stupendous Sinclair type transformation, from hapless and ignorant art victims, to internet authorities on Morrisseau fakes, and were quite comfortable in going public – with no independently verifiable facts – to suddenly start slanging Jackie Bugera, and her Bearclaw Gallery, a long established and reputable Morrisseau dealer who had ties to Norval himself, going back two generations, and over many decades.
They were so wrong-headed with their claim that “Grandfather” was a fake that they stubbornly refused the offers by both Michael Moniz and Ugo Matulic when the duo offered to pay for an expensive forensic examination (well over $1,000), so that Browne and Witmer could get a scientific and independent assessment of the so-called Sinclair fake. But no, they and their high-school dropout ersatz art expert and legal advisor, on secondment from the Conspiracy Theorists at the KRG, knew better.
No retailer likes a noisy, disgruntled customer, no matter how wrong-headed, so Bugera quietly settled the lawsuit out of court, with Bugera giving the grousing customers back their money.
Bugera did not budge an inch, in her belief and claim that “Grandfather” was a genuine Morrisseau. But she demanded that Browne and Witmer take down their libelous and defamatory web site, and to shut up in public with their wild, fraudulent, and unsubstantiated allegations.
The duo slinked out of public view, and removed themselves from the masthead as prominent patrons of the Art Gallery of Canada.
Bugera also got Browne to get Sinclair to remove his libelous, malicious, and defamatory postings of her name and her paintings.
Here is how Sinclair ”complied,” after removing the pictures, by replacing them with dozens of huge red stop signs still prominently linking the name of Bearclaw Gallery as the source of endless forgeries.
On Apr 1, 2012, top forensic scientist Kenneth J Davies, found, with DNA certainty, that “Grandfather” was authentically signed by Norval Morrisseau in the BDP style, proving incontrovertibly that Drs. Browne and Witmer had falsely slanged an authentic Morrisseau. and clearly libeled the owner of Bearclaw Gallery.
And that the “Doctor duo” had been dumber than a bag of hammers to listen to Ritchie Sinclair.
Sinclair the Failed Ersatz Lawyer: Part 2 – Otavnik v Sinclair – On Dec. 22, 2008, Joe Otavnik, stung by Ritchie Sinclair’s malicious, libelous, and defamatory slanging of his genuine Morrisseaus on his website launched a lawsuit against Sinclair, accusing him of lying when Sinclair publicly claimed “Jesuit Preist Brings the Word 1974” was a fake.
The Notorious Robinson Expert Report #1 – “Jesuit Preist” – Sinclair recruited Donald Robinson, whom he calls “My mentor,” to write a 114 page “expert report” proving “Jesuit Preist” was a fake.
IMPORTANT HISTORICAL NOTE: This notorious Robinson Report, specially commissioned by Ritchie Sinclair, would be the first ever mention in any published literature anywhere, in this world or the next, of Ritchie Sinclair. Here, in that self-serving document, is Robinson’s absolutely tepid endorsement of Ritchie Sinclair AKA “Stardreamer,” “protégé of Norval Morrisseau.”
“I would like to recognize Ritchie Sinclair for his efforts to identity Norval’s true artistic legacy. He is another person struggling with few resources against organized multi-faceted legal actions.” (Robinson, Acknowledgements, Sinclair & Hatfield Reports, 2009, 2010)
A One-handed Clap – Robinson gives Sinclair the kind of reference reserved for office secretaries, leaving totally unsaid anything with regard to his supposed Morrisseau connections or expertise.
So as late as 2010, it’s the best encomium – hell the only one – Sinclair has ever received from anyone else. Sinclair must have considered it a leg up. Remember he had stormed into Maslak McLeod railing against Donald Robinson for not putting him on the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society’s roster of so-called Morrisseau experts.
Sinclair even got Robinson into court testifying why the Sinclair and Robinson duo – both claimed themselves to be ”the world’s top Morrisseau experts” – both considered “Jesuit Preist” a fake.
And then it gets worse, much worse – But Robinson was as utterly restrained in crediting Sinclair with any Morrisseau expertise on any level whatsoever, even when prompted to do so by Sinclair while testifying on his behalf before Judge Godfrey. The pompositous Sinclair obviously expected Robinson to wax honourific about “Ritchie – Stardreamer – Sinclair, protégé of Norval Morrisseau.” All he could get out of Robinson was a loud thud…
“MR. SINCLAIR: Q. Um, could you tell the court a little bit about who I am, Mr. Robinson, and what you know of who I am and my relationship with Norval Morrisseau?
A. Well, I understand that you were, you were once, but you knew Norval Morrisseau a number of years, and that you were painting with him. I am not sure what else I can say.” (Court Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair: Mar 18, 2010 p129)
A truly tellingly tepid endorsement if there ever was one for the self-proclaimed chosen protégé of Norval Morrisseau. But Robinson was incapable of saying anything more because there was nothing more to say. Everything Sinclair says about himself is made up in his own wild fantasy world. Robinson was only being honest.
Robinson only says – according to what he knows – that Sinclair “knew” Norval for “a number of years” – thousands of people can say that! And that Sinclair painted with him – literally hundreds of others can say the same thing among the thousands of people Norval brushed up against, in his fifty years as Canada’s most widely travelled artist.
In 2014 those two Robinson encomiums to Ritchie Sinclair are the only references that appear in the published academic literature on Norval Morrisseau, or among the thousands of pages of Court Transcripts that I have read over the last six years.
And then it gets worse…
In fact Robinson had NOT mentioned Ritchie Sinclair even once, in his “Travels to the House of Invention (1997).” Nor did he add Sinclair when he updated the book in 2005, and made a paltry few additions – but significantly adding the names of Gabe and Michele Vadas as important in Norval’s story.
Robinson clearly thought the Vadas addition was extremely important because in 2005, everyone expected Norval to die momentarily, and Vadas would inherit everything. And at that very moment Donald Robinson was storing some $20 to $40 million dollars worth of Norval’s paintings in the the KRG basement for Vadas. Clearly Robinson wanted to ingratiate himself with Vadas so he would continue to be his dealer for this huge hoard of paintings.
BUT ROBINSON DID NOT ADD THE NAME OF RITCHIE SINCLAIR. Repeat, this was in 2005.
It is pretty clear, that while Robinson is willing to employ Sinclair as an enforcer, blogger, and guerrilla emailer, and to associate with Sinclair in the courts – where the public galleries are always empty, and the transcripts are never read – he does not want his name associated with Sinclair’s in the Morrisseau books that will be read by Posterity. Or by representing him to his clients, as a gallery artist, which he has utterly refused to do in the past 17 years.
Lawyer Brian Shiller in his cross-examination, mercilessly roasted Robinson by turning him ruthlessly on a spit of his own creation during Hatfield v Artworld, asking him about the glaring omission of “Ritchie Sinclair – Stardreamer – the chosen protégé of Norval Morrisseau,” in the two last books Norval and he would ever produce on the artist and his legacy.
“Q. Okay. Now, you wrote two books on Mr. Morrisseau; correct?
Donald Robinson: Yes.
Q. Is Ritchie Sinclair mentioned in either of those books?
Donald Robinson: I’m sorry; did he….
Q. Is Ritchie Sinclair mentioned in either of those books?
Donald Robinson: 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?
Donald Robinson: I don’t remember it. They were written several years ago.
Q. One is in ’89 (sic); one is in ’05; correct?
Donald Robinson: Probably, yes.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Feb 23, 2012 p6)
If you wrote this for a movie script it would be totally rejected, as incredible, as nobody could possibly be so utterly forgetful about a “major personality” in two recently published major books. Clearly something else is going on in this massive verbal and mental shuffling that Robinson is desperately fumbling with.
A Sad Legacy of a Failed Artist – These few niggardly references to Ritchie Sinclair are all that survive of his supposed painting relationship to Norval Morrisseau – it is clearly non-existent
In the same two books, Norval Morrsseau, writing in his own chapter, utterly fails to make any mention – even one – of the self-proclaimed “Ritchie Stardreamer Sinclair, chosen protégé of Norval Morrisseau.”
All the documented and sworn testimony that does exist on Sinclair and his relationship to Norval Morrisseau is that for a brief moment in time he was what the Morrisseau family and Christian said he was, “the self proclaimed protégé and former short-term boyfriend of his father.” – (Christian Morrisseau (Norval’s son) to Donna Child, Mar 7, 2008)
On Jan 11, 2011 Judge MD Godfrey totally and absolutely ignored, and so dismissed, entirely, both Sinclair’s testimony and Robinson’s expert reports and testimony, ruling that the painting was not in any way, shape, or form degraded, discredited, or devalued, essentially, as a result of any of their claims, and that it was as authentic a Morrisseau as it was the day it came into court. Robinson had spent six months fabricating a report that the judge essentially threw verbally into the waste bin.
To add insult to injury, Judge Godfrey who already found that neither Sinclair nor Robinson had convincing arguments that “Jesuit Preist Brings the Word 1974” was a fake, neither did Joe Otavnik demonstrate to him that what Robinson and Sinclair had said and done – after all Godfrey had found their allegations false and lacking in factual merit – had damaged his painting in any way. He even recommended that Otavnik get a forensic scientist to authenticate it to solidify its credibility.
On Dec 19, 2011, top forensic scientist Kenneth J Davies, found, with DNA certainty, that “Jesuit Preist Brings the Word 1974” was authentically signed by Norval Morrisseau in the BDP style, proving incontrovertibly that both Ritchie Sinclair and Donald Robinson had falsely slanged an authentic Morrisseau.
And proving, incontrovertibly, that either, Sinclair and Robinson had been dumber than a bag of hammers, or…
And proving that Judge Godfrey had exhibited uncanny insight and had been “right on” with his ruling.
So high-school dropout Ritchie Sinclair loses Round 2 as a Credible Morrisseau expert, being utterly discredited in his claims and expertise by both a judge and a top forensic expert.
Sinclair the Failed Ersatz Lawyer: Part 3 – Hatfield v Artworld – One person who had been drawn to Jonathan Browne’s defamatory “MorrisseauBuyersBeware” website was a little old retired school marm, Margaret Hatfield, who now began to fear her own painting “Wheel of Life 1979” – bought several years before, in 2005, from Artworld of Sherway – was a fake, and in a panic, contacted Browne.
Dr. Browne, only months after agreeing to a settlement with Bugera, and agreeing to dismount his defamatory website and submit to a gag order, was obviously now, nursing a huge grudge against Bearclaw, and decided his brand of ethics didn’t forbid him from slanging Bugera and her painting in private.
The good Dr. Browne immediately referred Hatfield over to Ritchie Sinclair, the high-school dropout.
Sinclair was quick to see an opportunity to slang Artworld, one of the very galleries that had refused to represent him in 2008, thus standing in the way of his own envisioned new kick-start to his art career, aided by his claims of being Norval Morrisseau’s chosen protégé.
It was Sinclair who now seems to have affirmed for the elderly retired school marm, that her painting “Wheel of Life 1979” was indeed a fake, and encouraged her to launch a lawsuit against Artworld and hit them up for a ton of money.
And so Sinclair, seems to have referred and directed her business to lawyer Jonathan Sommer.
Previously, when Sinclair’s own lawyer, Zak Muscovitch got into hot water over a Morrisseau related issue, and was being sued by Joe Otavnik for preparing and notarizing a false affidavit, he had hired Jonathan Sommer to represent him in Otavnik v Muscovitch.
(Joe Otavnik had taken considerable exceptions to a false and vile defamatory affidavit that Zak Muscovitch had prepared and notarized for Sinclair, and included in court documents. In his defence, Muscovitch claimed he was not responsible for their accuracy or truth because as a lawyer, he was not duty bound to read anything he prepared and notarized or verify with research anything he prepared and certified with his Notary’s “rubber stamp,” even if it contained allegations of serious criminal behavior.)
Now Sommer would get a second job – Hatfield v Artworld – thanks to Ritchie Sinclair. It would lead to a financial disaster for his client, when a court ultimately utterly dismissed Sinclair as not being knowledgeable, believable, or trustworthy on any level as a witness, or as an art, or Morrisseau expert, and rejected his testimony as well as that of a man Sinclair referred to as “My mentor,” Donald Robinson.
The Ersatz Lawyer Directs Jonathan Sommer 1 – One amazing observation I made in court is how Sinclair, repeatedly and actively directed a passive Jonathan Sommer in how to prosecute the case even though Sinclair has no post-high school education, and was not a party or litigant in the Hatfield v Artworld lawsuit. He was only brought in as a witness for the Plaintiff, Margaret Hatfield, by her lawyer, Jonathan Sommer – and so was not even supposed to be in the public gallery during the proceedings.
On several occasions during recesses, Sinclair quickly approached Sommer at the Plaintiff’s desk – seven feet in front of me – and handed him documents on which he vigorously pointed out the salient features to the completely passive lawyer, and verbosely explained how to use them to the greatest effect.
This odd coupling was possible because Sinclair seems to have brought Sommer and Hatfield together, essentially giving Sommer the job to as Plaintiff’s lawyer for Hatfield v Artworld of Sherway.
The Sinclair “Kiss of Death” – On another such occasion, Sinclair walked up behind the elderly Margaret Hatfield – only seven feet in front of me – and grabbing her by the shoulders planted a big kiss on top of her head. Sinclair was openly desperate in wanting to reassure a clearly frail old lady Plaintiff who was, to my close observation, utterly frightened, by the court process, by the respectable and confident Defence team she saw opposing her for the first time, the disastrous case she increasingly found herself in the middle of, and the knowledge that her lawyer had submitted billings of some $40,000, in a Small Claims Court Case, if you can imagine. These billings, would mount to an estimated $58,000 when Sinclair and Sommer decided to accuse Judge Martial of some 35 judicial mistakes (published by Sinclair) and seek an expensive Appeal, all funded by a totally hapless and clearly manipulated little old lady. The kiss was meant to keep her in line.
In Ontario Superior Court Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson, brusquely and speedily, utterly dismissed the Appeal and refused Sommer a new trial. I watched the whole Appeal – Sommer sat ten feet in front of me, Ms. Hatfield on my immediate left, and Sinclair immediately beside her, all of us squashed into small seats in a tiny public gallery. Giving me a wonderful bird’s eye view to see how Sinclair was directing Jonathan Sommer in what to say and when to say it.
Even though Sinclair was to be Sommer’s only witness for the Hatfield trial (he also had an “expert witness” Donald Robinson), and court rules forbid a witness from observing the court proceedings until after he has testified, (and Sinclair knows this rule, even if lawyer Sommer didn’t) Sommer allowed Sinclair to stay in the court the whole first day when Ms. Hatfield was testifying. Which is how the “Kiss of Death” came about.
The defense lawyer, who was then Robert Dowhan, complained to Sommer and to the Court. The next day, Sommer told the Court that he was now adding a “new witness” to his list, which is totally untrue, because the witness list has to be handed in 30 days before the trial. And besides, in over two years, Sommer produced no other witnesses at all – not one – and only one “expert witness” which was Robinson.
So on the one side you had a couple of longtime business partners, one of whom Sommer had masquerading as an “expert witness” – a belief of which he was to be brusquely disabused by Judge Martial in his finding – while the Defence had seven witnesses from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests. They came from all over Canada, and most had never met each other. And the Defence had an expert witness in Dr. Atul K Singla who had no personal, business, fine art, or financial ties to anyone else. A truly “expert witness” and friend of the court in the best sense of the word.
This was the lop-sided reality faced by Judge Martial, and in a real sense, tied his hands, and put him on an unwavering railway track to his finding. In fact months before he published his finding I had predicted and published how he would rule.
Disclosure: I admit I was not a fan of Judge Martial during the trial. I admit he outfoxed me completely and others in the public gallery. I – and others – thought he should never have allowed Donald Robinson – with obviously huge financial self-interest at stake – to testify as an “expert witness” or to then go on to testify for so long. In a trial which had 10 (ten) witnesses, fully 1/3 (one-third) of the trial transcripts feature Donald Robinson, giving mute proof that Judge Martial was bending over backwards for the Plaintiff, even at the expense of offending the public gallery. It is incontrovertible proof of the ludicrous claim made by Jonathan Sommer in his Appeal, that Judge Martial did not listen to his expert witness or witness. And in fact, the number of Sinclair’s trial transcript pages are only matched by those for one Defence witness.
A Colossal Rebuff – What it does, is, it underlines, hugely, the determination of Judge Martial to treat the allegations seriously, and then having done so – beyond a reasonable doubt – illustrates the true magnitude of the rebuff dealt to the quality of witnesses and argument that Jonathan Sommer presented to the court.
As a matter of fact, I could see that Sommer had no case – in fact I told him, face-to-face, in the hall, on Day 1, that he was flogging a dead horse because “Wheel of Life 1979” was genuine – because he did not bring in as witnesses any of the people whom he should have brought in to testify, including Morrisseau’s “caregivers” Michelle Vadas and Gabor Vadas (who had wielded Morrisseau’s Power of Attorney and handled all his legal and financial affairs for 17 years, Morrisseau’s doctor from Nanaimo, and lawyer Clark Purves from Victoria who had supposedly sent a weird demand letter with a key document attached, that, strangely had been prepared and added 5 days after the lawyer’s letter was issued.
In fact, in his finding, two years later, Judge Martial noted the lack of important witnesses he had expected Sommer to produce for a trial of this importance.
All alone, on the Plaintiff side, Sommer had only longtime collaborators, Sinclair and Robinson, who had teamed up again – as they had in their previous disastrous outing in Otavnik v Sinclair – and Robinson had produced another fabricated “expert report”, all to “prove” his very self-serving claim that the Hatfield painting, “Wheel of Life 1979,” was a fake.
Judge Martial totally rejected anything either of the duo had to say, or produce for the court.
So dealing Sommer a courtroom defeat of epic proportions.
Sinclair Lashes Out at First Nations Artists – Sinclair specifically lashed out at Morrisseau family members and First Nations artists during the Martial court claiming that Wolf, Norval’s brother, was a forger, and “David Morrisseau’s definitely one… Christian Morrisseau’s definitely one. Eugene Morrisseau’s definitely one. His nephew, Benji Morrisseau is another. There’s (sic) a few others.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Jun 4, 2012 p198)
Sinclair’s anti-Aboriginal invective was copied from his “Mentor,” Donald Robinson, who in testimony on the stand, while questioned by Defence lawyer Robert Dowhan, carried out a visceral attack – I witnessed Robinson’s unrestrained venom from ten feet away – on all the members of the Morrisseau family, calling them all liars and forgers, and adding the name Lisa Morrisseau to the list. (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Sep 11, 2011 p17)
“Robert Dowhan: All right, and you tendered as Exhibit 10 to this proceeding a document that you brought yourself that 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.
Donald Robinson: Yeah….
Robert Dowhan: They’re all lying?
Donald Robinson: They are all lying, absolutely. They’re complicit in this whole scheme.
Robert Dowhan: All right.
Donald Robinson: Bear in mind he’s in – it’s all just one family.”
(Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Sep 11, 2011 p24)
Interestingly in his anti-Aboriginal tirade, Robinson was attacking the ethics and morality of his own artist, because Norval was sitting in the midst of the family group that Robinson lambasted and called liars and forgers. So, how trustworthy is a man’s (Norval’s) signature on an Affidavit of Forgery, when his own business partner calls him a crook, liar, and forger in front of a judge?
To me that fact alone totally destroys the only underpinning for the Greatest Fraud in Canadian Art History, which entirely depends on only one thing: Norval’s truthfulness – his Dementia-debilitated brain aside – when his signature appeared on those Affidavits from 2003-2005, claiming hundreds of his genuine paintings were fake.
Judge Martial was far more brutal, than Judge Godfrey had been, in his dismissal of the “Don and Ritchie Show,” “rejecting” outright, multiple times, their claims, expertise, expert reports, and testimony. And throwing into their faces his ruling that the painting they claimed was a fake, front and back, was in fact, authentic, both front and back.
Now a second judge, Martial, has piled on the discredited starving artist and high-school dropout, and has more severely and directly rejected and discredited Sinclair as having any credibility, either of art or Morrisseau expertise of any kind.
The painting “Wheel of Life 1979” had also been ruled authentic by one of Canada’s top forensic scientists and handwriting analysis experts, Dr. Atul K Singla, Ph.D. (forensics), M.A. (forensics).
But being a disastrously losing lawyer paid Sommer handsomely. Ms. Hatfield, the retired little old lady school marm would end up losing some $57,000 (which would be the final estimated billing, for the trial and the Appeal by Sommer based on fees he charged that he provided to the court).
All due to Sinclair and Sommer’s totally inept attempts to prove a genuine Morrisseau BDP painting was a fake before both, a judge of the Small Claims Court, and a Justice of the Ontario Superior Court.
In fact – and both Sinclair and Sommer knew it – “Wheel of Life 1979” had already been authenticated as genuine by a slew of Morrisseau experts and one of Canada’s top forensic scientists, who found it authentically signed by the artist, with DNA certainty, and by no one else.
Anti – Forensic – Sinclair has expressed and shown a special disdain for Canada’s highly educated and credentialed top forensic scientists and handwriting analysis experts, still listing in 2014 as “inferior counterfeits” over 70 of Norval’s 1970s BDPs, authenticated by top handwriting analysis experts, including “Shaman Envelopes Soma 1976” the first and only Morrisseau painting in history to ever receive a forensic authenticity rating of “beyond DNA” certainty of 100%.
This is obviously because the highly educated forensics and handwriting experts are the ones who, in court, are listened to and respected by the judges, not those who claim they are experts, then testify in a way that makes it obvious that they are driven by self-interest, not by an interest in truth.
Judges would rather believe a highly educated forensics and handwriting expert who testifies that he has analyzed the black dry brush signature on the back of a 1970s painting and compared it with other known Morrisseau signatures from letters, etc. and has verified that it is indeed a genuine Morrisseau signature, which means that the painting is indeed a genuine Morrisseau painting.
So high-school dropout Ritchie Sinclair loses Round 3 as a credible Morrisseau expert, being utterly discredited in his claims and expertise by a second judge and another top forensic expert.
Sinclair’s Motives in Hatfield v Artworld
But Sinclair actually comes out of it without losing anything, since he has invested no money whatsoever into the process. He, however, has manipulated the situation to continue fulfilling his motives, which are malice (against those who would not sell his own paintings, revenge (against collectors who would not buy his paintings), and a desire to ingratiate himself to Donald Robinson (who he had called his “mentor,” the same title he used to describe Norval Morrisseau.)
Sinclair, along with his crony Jonathan Browne, had convinced the gullible Margaret Hatfield to become the proxy to further the aims of the people who had invented and spread the Morrisseau Hoax (i.e to convince the public that there were “thousands of fakes ‘out there’ created by umpteen forgers”) even though not one iota of credible evidence had ever been produced by anyone. Ms Hatfield paid the bills for the effort to prove their unsubstantiated cause.
The attack (malice and revenge) was on Artworld of Sherway, and its Director Donna Child, who had turned down Sinclair’s request to become an artist represented by her gallery. The Gallery and its Director were also a party in the multiple dealer lawsuit against Sinclair.
The attack was also intended for Jim White, the person who had consigned the painting “Wheel of Life” to Artworld to sell. White was also a party to the large lawsuit against Sinclair.
Both Child and White and their companies were competitors of Sinclair’s so-called “mentor,” art dealer and gallery owner Donald Robinson, who had been Morrisseau’s principal dealer for the last decade of his painting life (and who was the only other witness for Hatfield other than Sinclair.) So, by manipulating his proxy to attach Child and White and their businesses, Sinclair has continued to ingratiate himself, and make himself indispensible to, art dealer Donald Robinson.
And, keep in mind, that, in October 2008, Sinclair had become the public face and mouthpiece of the “Conspiracy Theory” that was originally invented and spread to the public by Robinson with no substantiated evidence (and with the help of compliant and lazy journalists who failed to do due diligence before they spewed out what Robinson had virtually dictated to him.
Sinclair was lashing out and attacking in all directions, and coming up with all kinds of wild “theories” (which Sinclair claimed were “facts”) for which there was never a single shred of credible evidence produced. But, it seems, no one could touch Sinclair in civil court, because he has no visible income, and no visible assets.
Proving, incontrovertibly, that however discredited the claims proved to be, the pay could be lucrative for those getting paid by the gullible proxies.
Sinclair the Failed Ersatz Lawyer: Part 4 – Queen v Otavnik – On May 2013, only weeks after Judge Martial issued his finding against the disastrous case presented by Jonathan Sommer, another judge stepped into the picture – The Hon Justice Alphonse T Lacavera – and ruled hugely against Sinclair, in the Criminal Harassment and Assault case Sinclair had launched against Joe Otavnik in September 2009.
Rewind – As a result of Sinclair’s libelous and defamatory website, launched in October 2008, by December, 2008, the malicious high-school dropout was beset by multiple lawsuits from leading Canadian art dealers.
In reply, in early 2009, Sinclair launched a blizzard of angry and threatening emails. Sought out for special attack was Ugo Matulic who accused Sinclair, KRG, and Don Robinson of conspiring in a fraud to debase, discredit, and devalue genuine Morrisseau BDP paintings. Sinclair demanded Matulic stop mentioning Sinclair on his blog. Matulic ignored him.
On Mar 28, 2009, Matulic received an anonymous “death threat” email threatening to put him in a “meat-grinder” (like in the movie Fargo.) Matulic’s site meter traced the call to the home computer and the “Stardreamer C-drive” of Ritchie Sinclair.
Matulic went to the police and swore out a report, alleging Criminal Harassment, but truly scared of Sinclair, he refused to publish any of it on his blog.
Six months later in September 2009, Matulic published, naming Ritchie Sinclair as the author of the “meat-grinder” death threat and saying he had reported it to police.
Sinclair would later testify before The Honourable Justice Alphonse T Lacavera, that it didn’t come from him.
“I would never send anybody a letter that was threatening in any way. That is not my nature, and I would never consider doing such a thing… I was extremely upset. Here I’m a person that has been clean as a whistle all my life, and these people, behind my back complained to the police in another whole part of our country, about something I had absolutely nothing to do with, and I had no knowledge of it, so I immediately went to the police and I said ,’Look, you guys, this man is harassing me like crazy…it had nothing to do with me, but it’s still up there. It still says, “Death threat by Ritchie Sinclair.” (Transcript/Queen v Otavnik Jan 11, 2012)
Reality Check: Clean as a whistle? Sinclair had physically lunged at me in a court foyer, had smashed papers out my wife’s hand in a court room, and had stalked Joe Otavnik mercilessly with a camera in multiple court rooms where he was not a party.
And the Toronto Police had charged Sinclair with Criminal Harassment after some seven or more physically aggressive assaults on 82 year-old Joe McLeod, at his car, in the street, at his place of business, and had set off his burglar alarm at his home at 2 a:m.
As a precaution, just before Sinclair went to the Toronto police, he secretly got Jonathan Browne – remember him as the author of the Bugera defamation of a few months earlier – to phone the Calgary police to see if they were pursuing Matulic’s claims. This was obviously done so police could not detect Sinclair’s own ID or phone number etc. (Source: Sinclair’s reports and emails to the Toronto Police.)
Assured by Browne that the police said it was all on the back burner, Sinclair immediately went to the Toronto Police and filed his own Criminal Harassment case against Joe Otavnik.
Sinclair trained his guns on Otavnik for two reasons.
– On June 9, 2008 Otavnik had won a huge lawsuit against Gabe Vadas and Norval Morrisseau who had libeled him and slanged his genuine Morrisseau art as forgeries.
On Mar 13, 2007 a forensic expert completed a report that certified that the Otavnik painting slanged, by Vadas and Morrisseau, was, in fact, a genuine work by the artist, with DNA certainty.
But rather than daring to go to court with their proof against that of Otavnik, the cowering duo, of artist and business manager, asked Otavnik for an out-of-court settlement and paid him $11,000 to shut up.
Sinclair was angered that Otavnik had proven that Vadas and Morrisseau were both lying, and that a painting they – and Sinclair – had called fake, was recognized as authentic not only by a top forensic scientist, but as well as by Vadas and Morrisseau, in going so far as to pay off Otavnik.
– In Dec. 2008, two months after Sinclair’s libelous and defamatory website had gone up, Otavnik had launched a similar slew of lawsuits against Sinclair (and his collaborators) who were defaming Otavnik’s Morrisseau art on Sinclair’s malicious website.
Otavnik had launched a lawsuit against Sinclair (in which Judge Godfrey would ultimately rule against Sinclair’s claim of forgery). Otavnik had also launched lawsuits against Sinclair’s lawyer, his lawyer’s wife, and Sinclair’s roommate, Garth Cole.
Clearly feeling beset on all sides Sinclair had to lash out in some way.
First, in July 2009, then again in September, Sinclair went to Toronto police and swore out Criminal Harassment and Assault charges against Joseph Otavnik. They were all based on Sinclair’s very distorted descriptions of events that had happened many months before, some up to a year earlier.
Another seven months passed before, in April 2010, Otavnik would be charged by police for Criminal Harassment and Assault, based entirely on Sinclair’s false claims. The evidence would all be based on Sinclair’s sworn testimony and in a sworn report of some forty pages he made to police. The trial would last for three years, and involve over 20 court appearances, and five full days of trial and testimony.
On May 19, 2013 The Hon Justice Alphonse T Lacavera issued his 40 page finding dismissed all the Criminal Harassment and Assault charges that Sinclair had made against Otavnik. Clearly Justice Lacavera did not believe a word from the man with the Stardreamer C-drive.
Justice Lacavera made it clear he did not believe a word in Sinclair’s sworn affidavit to police or in Sinclair’s court testimony, rejecting his claims that Otavnik had put a headlock on him at Old City Hall, had thrown a heavy binder at him (which Sinclair was forced to admit was only about ten pages of paper stapled together), had aggressively intimidated judges, etc., or a number of other wild allegations which Sinclair claimed to be true.
Furthermore Justice Lacavera ruled that, as a result of testimony he had heard, plus questions he himself had asked the witnesses, he did not believe there existed, as Sinclair claimed, a so-called conspiracy of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” of Morrisseau art out there.
Clearly he considered Sinclair to be no more credible or honest in his art expertise and Morrisseau knowledge than in his other wild claims.
So high-school dropout Ritchie Sinclair loses round 4 as a truthful court witness, believable police informant, or credible Morrisseau expert, being utterly discredited in his claims and expertise by a third judge.
Sinclair the Failed Ersatz Lawyer: Part 5a – Martial Appeal – After his disastrous courtroom defeat by Judge Martial in the Hatfield v Artworld case, in March 2013, lawyer Jonathan Sommer became desperate.
In what can only be considered a crass job ad for more similar legal business, Jonathan Sommer sent out the call in the Ottawa Citizen article, remarkably, just after his landmark courtroom setback and defeat by the Martial court:
“My opinion, and that of my client, based upon what I have seen, is that there is a huge problem with the existence of fakes, and people should be particularly cautious when purchasing the work of Norval Morrisseau, and examine each painting on a case-by-case basis, and not rely unduly on a single statement about a single painting made by a single small-claims courts judge.” (Headline, Ottawa Citizen, Jacquie Miller, Apr. 8, 2013)
Sommer offers no new or old evidence to support this statement. In fact the “evidence” – actually the total lack of same – that he himself had offered in the just completed court proceedings indicated that there was ACTUALLY NO EVIDENCE OF ANY KIND FOR THESE STATEMENTS.
Which is exactly what Judge Martial clearly indicated to Sommer in his carefully considered 30 page finding.
LATER, JUDGE MARTIAL’S FINDINGS WERE TOTALLY AND STRONGLY UPHELD BY ONTARIO SUPERIOR COURT OF APPEAL MADAM JUSTICE MARY ANNE SANDERSON.
Incredibly, Sommer’s Ottawa Citizen “job ad” worked, even though he had disastrously failed at his previous “job” – the Hatfield v Artworld case. A few months later Sommer hooked a new client when John McDermott – he can sing but he can’t read – became convinced by Sinclair’s Conspiracy Theorist group that he too had fakes, and it was worthwhile spending $50,000 or more to try to get Sommer to try to prove it, again, in court.
And this just after the longest fine art court case in Canadian history had just proven in the most absolute terms possible – in this world or the next – that what the Sommer/Sinclair team had claimed about a painting, and about Morrisseau paintings in general, was absolutely false, in the extreme, by any measure you want to adopt, and had only succeeded in decimating the paltry retirement savings of a retired school marm.
Three times in a row now, Sinclair’s malicious and defamatory claims against three genuine Morrisseau paintings have been completely discredited by two of Canada’s top forensic scientists, who ruled they were authentic.
But the lawyer made a bundle, nevertheless. (Lawyers and stockbrokers always get handsomely paid, whether they win or lose. In truth, only the client loses.)
Sommer’s statement to the Ottawa Citizen, if correctly quoted, was, in my opinion, a gross and egregious falsification of the trial, of what Judge Martial’s finding had been, of all the five days of testimony which I had personally heard and witnessed, and of some 800 pages of trial transcripts I have read.
I heard everything he heard; I saw everything that he saw, from just eight feet behind him. And I read more court transcripts than he did, since I had over hundred pages transcribed that neither he nor the Defence lawyer had ordered or seen.
The Superior Court Weighs In – In fact Judge Martial’s findings, in their totality, would be massively upheld in the Appeal, when Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson agreed totally with Judge Martial’s handling of the case and his conclusions, even going so far as to chide Sommer about his conduct in the handling of both the trial and the Appeal, brutally dismissing all of his some 35 complaints as unfounded, untrue, and some even his own fault.
She stated that the judge had clearly taken a long time to conscientiously go through the 750 pages of court transcripts before rendering his verdict. Saying, in effect, that Sommer had – without cause – maligned a good judge, and a fair process, when he had only himself and his lawyering to blame for his landmark defeat.
The Incredulous Madam Justice Sanderson of the Superior Court – I could see within the opening minutes of the Appeal, that Madam Justice Sanderson, right out the gate, smelled a rat. She could just not believe what she was hearing when Sommer explained how unhappy he was with Judge Martial’s verdict, which ruled in no uncertain terms that “Wheel of Life 1979” was absolutely authentic. She expressed her astonishment three different times, because she just could not believe what Sommer was saying.
“It should be a cause for rejoicing!” she blurted out several times, because she wanted to be sure she had heard right…
She had. And realized the same thing I had, in the public gallery: Sommer – along with his “legal director” Sinclair – had not been interested in an honest assessment of the painting by Judge Martial, and would settle for nothing less than for him to rule the painting was a fake. The Plaintiff would accept nothing less than that the court rule Sinclair and Robinson’s way.
Within the opening minutes of the Appeal, after which arguments were to go on for some four more hours – and a wait of 11 more days for a decision – I knew instantly how Madam Justice Sanderson would rule in the case. In a flash the ludicrousness of the Appeal was instantly unveiled, hiding in plain sight, for all to see, provided they had eyes and basic intelligence.
Madam Justice Sanderson obviously realized that Sommer, Sinclair, and Hatfield, had a hidden agenda they were seeking to impose on the courts and its judges, namely that they wanted them to rubber stamp the Conspiracy Theorist claim of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” that KRG had started and they were spreading through associates.
Sinclair the Failed Ersatz Lawyer: Part 5b – Directing Jonathan 2 – Before Madam Justice Sanderson, Sinclair again played his aggressive lawyer role, in fact interjecting so loudly to something Jonathan Sommer had just agreed to, that Sommer literally spun around to face Sinclair and Hatfield, who were both sitting immediately beside me in the small public gallery.
As Madam Justice Sanderson was momentarily clarifying a point with Defence lawyer Brian Shiller, Sommer passed a note back to the duo. Sinclair aggressively dictated to Hatfield who scribbled furiously. Sinclair then passed the note to Sommer. Sommer then rose, and informed Madam Justice Sanderson that he had misspoken moments earlier and would like to correct the record.
Sinclair became the subject of a courtroom conversation when lawyer for the Defence, Brian Shiller, addressing Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson, said that Judge Martial had ample proof to call Ritchie Sinclair a liar and perjurer, but chose not to.
“I may suggest to you that the trial judge could have easily condemned Mr. Sinclair as a liar, and chose not to… And I put it to you, as to your shaking your head that you’ve read this part of the evidence. It was crystal clear in my submission that Mr. Sinclair was caught in a lie.”
(Brian Shiller to Madam Justice Sanderson, personal notes: Dec. 6, 2013)
In her final ruling on the Appeal, Justice Sanderson made the following comment on Ritchie Sinclair’s testimony at the trial:
“The trial judge was entitled to reject the evidence of Sinclair and to conclude it was unsupported and unreliable. Sinclair could produce no documentary evidence to support his assertion that a well organized forgery ring painted the works auctioned by Khan auctions.” (item 18, Ontario Superior Court 2013 ONSC 7801 Divisional Court File no. 209/13)
THE ENFORCER REPEATEDLY PERJURES HIMSELF
& WILDLY SNUBS CANADIAN COURTS
On numerous occasions I have seen, reflected in official court transcripts or have personally heard, Sinclair perjure himself in various courts, falsely claiming before a variety of different judges a variety of claims that are demonstrable false:
The Indian Imposter/Impersonator – at Otavnik v Sinclair – Sinclair told Judge Godfrey that he was “native artist,” when he has not a single strand of Aboriginal background in his DNA, and has, in fact, pointed out numerous times, that he was “chosen” by Norval exactly because he was all white – that he was in fact the white “connection” – while Brian Marion who was Norval’s longtime boyfriend and his only documented “genuine protégé” – was the Aboriginal “connection.”
We have proof from a blog (long removed), written by John MacGregor Newman in his introduction to the interview he did with Ritchie Sinclair, on Oct. 14, 2008 in the Kinsman Robinson Galleries and posted on John Zemanovitch’s website (long removed).
“Ritchie immersed himself in learning Norval’s techniques and was personally chosen after an interview. Through osmosis, intense study and exposure to the thoughts and lessons of a master artist over several years, Ritchie arguably became the first non-native graduate of the Thunderbird School of Shamanistic Arts…”
Learning “through osmosis” is not recognized by any University, Community College, Art College, school, or any other diploma, certificate, or degree-granting institution anywhere, but probably had its origins in Haitian voodoism.
And “intense study” and “exposure to the thoughts and lessons” are not at all believable for a man who dropped out of high school, and then, at age 22, failed to complete a simple introductory course in commercial art at a 1979 type of community college, and has never, subsequently – like millions of other Canadians have, after high school – taken self-improvement courses in art school, night school, or going to a degree, certificate, or diploma granting college or university, and graduating.
This pretentious bumph was all John MacGreggor Newman and KRG hype designed to inflate the fractured ego of a starving artist at the lowest point in his artistic life and make him over as an “Enforcer” for their gallery and the biggest Hoax in Canadian history.
JUST SAYING SO, DOESN’T MAKE IT SO
The Proof is in…”Just Sayin’… Makes it So” – Sinclair also repeatedly exhibits the biggest cardinal sin of those with little or less education, loudly and overbearingly, pompositing about stuff for which they have no credible or independently verifiable proof of any kind. This group of dysfunctional intellectual pretenders seem to believe that “just saying, makes it so.”
Not So Fast #1: Says The Hon Justice Thomas R Lederer – On Dec. 4, 2008 The Honourable Thomas R Lederer, Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, commented directly on Ritchie Sinclair and his false and malicious claims on his website, for which five leading reputable Canadian art dealers launched a lawsuit saying he libeled and defamed them, and negatively affected their businesses.
Justice Lederer heard a Motion for Interlocutory Relief, which means that the 5 dealers bringing the lawsuit against Sinclair applied to have the court order that Sinclair’s malicious and defamatory website, with its multiple false allegations of fakes being sold by each business as listed below, be removed from the internet while the litigation against Sinclair goes on.
Maslak McLeod Gallery 45 images
Bearclaw Gallery 45 images
Artworld Gallery 36 images
Gallery Sunami 12 images
White dealership 24 images
link to Justice Lederer’s judgment on the motion for interlocutory relief related to the multiple dealer lawsuit
In a list where he goes into excruciating detail, in page after page listing Sinclair’s public postings, Justice Lederer, pointedly, referring to some 160 images, maligned and defamed as “stolen, forgeries, counterfeit or were otherwise ‘inauthentic,” and further, “The defendant in this case says he will defend the action by claiming the defamatory statements are true. No demonstration of the basis for this defence has been produced to this point.” (page 9)
And more even more damningly:
“The website suggests that a large number of the pictures to which it refers are ‘stolen, forgeries, counterfeit or otherwise inauthentic.’ It is difficult to believe that the defendant has had an opportunity to examine all the images referred to on the website against the list of factors to which he refers. Moreover, the website does not demonstrate or discuss any specific evidence demonstrating the failure of any image to satisfy all of these factors. There is nothing but the bald statement that they are frauds or counterfeits.”
And in fact, only months before, Sinclair – unbeknownst to Justice Lederer – had himself posted exactly the same thing, saying he had personally only seen a few of the paintings he was posting on his website. And was, now, latterly, slanging big time.
(Note: Until October, 2008, when he “jumped the fence” to front for the Robinsons and become the public face, the mouthpiece, and the attack weapon for the Morrisseau Hoax, Sinclair’s website had been devoted to praising Morrisseau’s paintings. He had included the statement below.)
“The images posted in this archive are not for sale. They are simply pictures of artwork that I collected from various internet art sources years ago and then posted here for inspiration and enjoyment. With the exception of paintings that I witnessed being painted or exhibited by Morrisseau, I have no way of discerning whether the images shown here are all authentic Morrisseau originals. Enjoy!” (Stardreamer.com website)
IN FACT – I am virtually certain that, of the some 169 paintings, slanged by Sinclair and listed in the multiple dealer group claim in 2008, Sinclair had not ever seen or personally examined, or handled, a single one of the paintings being sold by Bugera, McLeod, Child, White, or Kim.
So making Sinclair – by his own published standard – totally incapable of ruling on whether they were fakes or not when he admitted to having “no way of discerning whether the images shown here are all authentic Morrisseau originals.”
By what can only be considered an astounding sleight of voodoo or “osmosis,” now, only weeks later (in the autumn of 2008), Sinclair completely reversed himself saying he now had incontrovertible proof, which only weeks ago he publicly admitted he did not have, that they were all fakes.
NOTE – Trying to Hide the Truth from History: As is the case with so many telltale emails, comments, postings, and blog entries made by Ritchie Sinclair, and staff members of Kinsman Robinson Galleries, this one has long ago, been removed, because of its damning and compromising nature, from their websites and blog archives.
Canadians, and Canada’s art heritage, owes a deep debt of gratitude to Ugo Matulic, who, with a single-minded passion, unparalleled in Canadian art history, has devoted himself 24/7, with preserving these internet documents for Posterity, with thousands of screen grabs he made, the instant they were published, from 2007 to 2014.
Some, altered or removed within hours, even minutes later, were not expunged fast enough to escape Matulic’s wary eye and Snagit clicker.
His internet and computer sleuthing has uncovered the authors of defamatory emails who thought they could hide behind “anonymous” postings, but were exposed as being Ritchie Sinclair and John MacGregor Newman, himself a fanatic, but mostly secret blogger for Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Matulic’s countless, telling screen grabs shine an illuminating light into the dark and murky, nether depths of the Canadian fine art market, and expose those who seek to manipulate the gullible, the honest, and the innocent, for malicious and self-serving ends, and replace Truth with Fiction and Falsehood.
Justice Lederer goes on with his damning catalogue of Sinclair failings:
“… in many cases, the defendant has not seen the actual paintings. He has come to his opinions using images reproduced on the internet.
“She (plaintiff lawyer) points out that there is one example where the defendant pronounced one painting as clearly authentic and then came to the opposite view a year later.
“There are two Norval Morriseaus in the National Gallery. Despite the fact that they are accepted as genuine by those responsible, the defendant has concluded they are frauds. Counsel for the plaintiffs goes on to point out that there is no independent confirmation of the defendant’s expertise in examining and authenticating the works of Norval Morriseau.
“This is in contra-distinction to some of the individuals associated with the plaintiffs who have been recognized by the courts as experts.
“In the circumstances, on their face, the comments and observations of the defendant are defamatory. However, he has not had an opportunity to fully respond and his right to freedom of expression.”
NOTE: This Group Lawsuit came to a shuddering stop just as they were on the verge of dealing a knock-out blow to Sinclair’s libel and defamation, a finding clearly signaled by Justice Lederer’s clearly encouraging comments in his 15 page finding.
But there was a falling out among the partners in the lawsuit. After a few weeks they had spent over $80,000 on lawyer’s fees, and had nothing to show for it, but the legal fees just kept on climbing. And faced with Sinclair’s “indigent” status, the law firm too, wanted out.
When Sinclair’s lawyer brought a lawsuit against Bugera in January, 2008, on behalf of Jonathan Browne, claiming a painting she sold him was a fake (which it was not), rather than fight a suit she could easily have won, Bugera made a quick side-deal with the Sinclair/Muscovitch/Browne group in January 2009. Having got what she wanted, she dropped out of the Group lawsuit, and left the others to pay mounting legal bills. Panic set in and they folded rather than carrying on.
Justice Lederer would have shaken his head. He had clearly telegraphed to them that they were only weeks from a likely very successful conclusion. Instead the faltering partners left the libel and defamation to stand, leaving the field clear for Sinclair to continue his defamations, claiming victory and braying away “see they had fakes exactly like I said, and didn’t contest it.”
It would take someone else, with courage, to put a stop to the libel and defamation, and try to clean up the mess the members of Canada’s fine art community had made by omission and commission.
Not So Fast #3: Says Judge MD Godfrey – On Mar 25, 2013 The Honourable M Donald Godfrey ruled that NOT EVEN THE ONE SINGLE PAINTING “Jesuit Preist Brings Word 1974” which Ritchie Sinclair’s claimed was a fake, had been believably proven as fake by him – let alone the 1,000 Sinclair was slanging, as complete forgeries.
And more damningly, that Sinclair’s own choice as the top expert supporting his proof, Donald Robinson, the man he called “My mentor,” was no more believable or credible, as a witness, or a Morrisseau expert than Sinclair, even though he had written a 114 page report, which he says took him six months to write, claiming the painting was fake. Judge Godfrey just blithely ignored him – as one would a fantasy – after listening to his wild claims that sounded just as credible as the preposterous blustering of Sinclair.
Judge Godfrey assured the Plaintiff, Joseph Otavnik, that “Jesuit Preist Brings Word 1974” had not been damaged, diminished, or devalued in any way by the bogus claims made on paper and with testimony, by Sinclair and Robinson, in court.
Another Judge would get to spend the next two years mulling over the same proofs of so-called fakes and forgery by the same duo of self-proclaimed Morrisseau experts.
Not So Fast #4: Says Judge Martial – On Mar 25, 2013 Deputy Judge Paul J Martial of the Small Claims Court, was finally able to examine the evidence which Sinclair claimed to Justice Lederer, to possess in 2008, supposedly proving the existence of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.”
Those who told Sinclair to “put up or shut up” would finally see Sinclair do his “show and tell.”
And after listening to Sinclair’ wild ranting in the courtroom – my call from ten feet away – Judge Martial gave him a raspberry, “rejecting” Sinclair as being a credible witness on anything, and Morrisseau in particular.
“The Court finds that Mr. Ritchie Sinclair was not impartial or objective for the reason that there is a civil action against him by Donna Child who is the defendant in this action as well as by Joseph McLeod, and several other people…
“His methodology in identifying forgeries is clearly inadequate and suspect since he testified that he does not even view the original paintings before condemning them as fakes.” (Page 16)
“Mr. Sinclair’s testimony of numerous forgers paid for with drugs although dramatic was not supported by the evidence.”
And Sinclair’s testimony regarding Kevin Cott and his painting, was a clear case of perjury, and was specifically tagged as such by lawyer Brian Shiller later on, before Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson.
Not So Fast #5: Says Justice Lacavera – On May 16, 2013 The Honourable Justice Alphonse T Lacavera totally dismissed the charges of Assault and Criminal Harassment filed by Ritchie Sinclair with the Toronto Police, against Joseph Otavnik, and found Otavnik “not guilty of criminal harassment,” and “not guilty of the offence of assault.”
Justice Lacavera clearly stated he did not believe a word Sinclair said, including that he lived in mortal fear of Otavnik. Judge Lacavera makes it clear that the more verifiable truth was that Sinclair and his lawyer were stalking Otavnik, not the other way around:
– Sinclair had gone alone to Otavnik’s house to serve legal documents instead of using a process server
– Sinclair had no right to call it Criminal Harassment, when Otavnik showed up at his home to legitimately serve court papers on Sinclair’s person, as the law requires. It was Otavnik’s right.
“A Fucking Asshole” – that Sinclair’s lawyer Zak Muscovitch, was obviously deliberately deceptive and devious in claiming to Otavnik that he was not Sinclair’s lawyer of record for this case, and yet still spent hours in a courtroom, “observing” cases in which he was not involved at all, spying on Otavnik and secretly advising Sinclair.
Judge Lacavera wrote:
“As I indicated earlier, the lawyer said that he did not act for the complainant in the Small Claims Court case because the accused called him a fucking asshole… I have already dealt with why the accused was contacting the lawyer at all and this was over service of his claim. I note Mr. Muscovitch said he went, even though he was called a fucking asshole, to Small Claims Court and even though he was not representing the complainant.”
Justice Lacavera also said that he did not believe that Otavnik had thrown a binder at Sinclair, nor had put a headlock on him in a public place at Old City Hall when there were no witnesses about in such a public place.
Not So Fast #6: Says Justice Sanderson – Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson of the Ontario Superior Court, who had gone through hundreds of pages of court transcripts and then for hours, listened to Jonathan Sommer make his case for a new trial, specifically excoriated Sinclair for his gross intellectual and ethical failing, when she dismissed him as a truthful or credible witness of any kind on the Morrisseau file, in her finding of Dec. 17, 2013.
Referring to Judge Martial who had earlier, totally rejected and dismissed Sinclair’s testimony, as unbelievable and unproven (in colloquial terms his testimony was fraudulent, lies, and amounted to perjury, as Brian Shiller went on to remind Justice Sanderson) she chimed in no uncertain terms.
“The trial judge was entitled to reject the evidence of Sinclair and to conclude it was unsupported and unreliable. Sinclair could produce no documentary evidence to support his assertion that a well organized forgery ring painted the works auctioned by Khan auctions.” (item 18, Ontario Superior Court 2013 ONSC 7801 Divisional Court File no. 209/13)
Five judges, in a row, including a Deputy Judge, and a Judge of the Small Claims Court, a Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, and two Justices of the Ontario Superior Court, had totally dismissed Ritchie Sinclair, in no uncertain terms, as not believable or credible on anything he said and specifically his claimed expertise on Morrisseau art.
A Mountain out of a Molehill – Sinclair told Judge Godfrey that “I painted with him (Norval) from 1979 until he was no longer capable of painting.” P158, pretending to have an unbroken and ongoing painting relationship with Norval while Morrisseau family members have stated – some under oath in court – that Sinclair was only a short-term boyfriend of Norval’s c 1981.
The Pretend Graduate – at Sinclair v Otavnik – Sinclair told Judge Godfrey that “Uh, I am a graduate of Commercial Art at George Brown College, 1979” when the truth is that, he was there only a few months, and left before end of term, dropping out at age 22, and leaving him with no post-high school credentials, diplomas, certificates, degrees etc., of any kind, in art or anything else.
In those days community colleges were for students who had not completed Grade XIII, which was the fifth and final high school completion year in Ontario, and a necessary qualification for getting into a university. Community colleges were trade schools taught by teachers who had trade or workplace experience instead of university degrees and teaching certificates. Community colleges did not have university or college degree granting status in those days, but handed out diplomas, or certificates, but you had to pass your course and complete your year, neither of which Sinclair did.
Norval looked to community colleges, not for diplomas or certificates, but as a source for something else he was more interested in. Once when a friend brought him a lavish present, Norval, who was not an acquisitive materialist, loudly scoffed it off with a derisive:
“If you wanted to give me a present, why didn’t you go over to the College and get me a boy!” (James Stevens, Picasso of the North Country, p174)
A Thief? – Sinclair told Judge Godfrey that – Sinclair told Judge Martial that Randy Potter had paintings “which were stolen by Randy Potter, thank you… nice scam.” P 187 which is as bald-faced a lie as it’s possible to make, all done with the intention to libel and defame a man in an attempt to make it look like the man who sold some 1,800 genuine Morrisseau paintings, and never had a one returned as a fake or for a refund, was a diabolical criminal.
Dementia or… – at Hatfield v Artworld – Sinclair told Judge Martial that all paintings sold at Potter’s were all fakes. But on Feb 14, 2004, the only time he ever attended a Potter auction, he had told auction manager, Donna Shea, they were wonderful Morrisseaus.
Sorry, I Meant the Opposite – at Hatfield v Artworld – Sinclair told Judge Martial that he only posted paintings, not people’s names on his malicious and defamatory web site. Testifying regarding, “the exposure of images, purported Morrisseau paintings that I displayed on the web site as of October 2008… When I put them on the website, out of a preponderance of caution, I named no individuals because I had no way of – all I was doing was trying to protect the art itself. So I re-titled every, every painting: Inferior Counterfeit Forgery Number One; Inferior Counterfeit Forgery Number Two, and so on up until 1,000 images.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Feb 23, 2012 p116)
In fact the complete opposite is true – Sinclair hid the names of the paintings but published the names of the owners and others he wanted to libel and defame.
Reality Check – In fact Sinclair maliciously libeled and personally defamed many reputable and decent Canadian artists, fine art collectors, art dealers, gallery owners, auctioneers, and numerous First Nations people. On the SOMA posting alone, as an example, he clearly and deliberately maligns not only the painting – whose name he has hidden – but the owners Goldi Productions Ltd., as well as other people: Ugo Matulic, Randy Potter, and Dr. Goyce Kakegamic.
A Self-Declared Full-time Protégé – Sinclair repeatedly claims a virtually seamless painting relationship with Norval Morrisseau over some 20 years, which is hotly disputed by the Morrisseau family, who claim Sinclair had only a brief painting relationship with Sinclair in the early 80s.
– at Hatfield v Artworld – Sinclair told Judge Martial that “in multiple times and multiple places we painted together periodically from 1979 until 1999” and “probably 95 percent of the days” after August 1979, and “a good part of the subsequent years after that.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Feb 23, 2012 p105)
Obviously it was a “spiritual relationship” based on “osmosis,” because for 95% of that time, Norval was thousands of miles away from Toronto where Sinclair lived.
– at Queen v Otavnik – Sinclair told Judge Lacavera that “I apprenticed with Morrisseau beginning in 1979, and we worked together over the course of 20 years, and were close friends until he passed away in 2007” (Court Trans/Queen v Otavnik: Jan 12, 2012 p)
Ritchie, Be Gone! – Norval would say something different. In fact, when Norval briefly returned to Toronto in 1986 – he had left TO and Sinclair years before – only coming back hoping to flesh out a contract with then Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, David Crombie, for some subway paintings, when he received an unwelcome, and surprise visitor, Ritchie Sinclair.
A letter Norval wrote, makes clear that he did not welcome the “return” of Ritchie Sinclair, did not welcome his intrusion into Norval’s painting and business life, and looked on him as a destructive force, and the sooner he left the scene the better for Norval.
“then Richie Step into the Scene from god Know where and Started a Round of talks what we Should Do etc. again (we) or myself had to tell Ritchie Sinclair to Leave or Present’s (ed: our presence) for he was Not getting us anywhere: except Divert us from our Goal for what we wish to Do me and tala, we told him to Leave…” (Letter, Norval Morrisseau, 1986)
The letter – as well a mountain of testimonials from other sources – makes utter mincemeat out of Sinclair’s claim that he had a constant, and close, painting relationship with Morrisseau from 1979 till 1999, as Norval’s chosen protégé.
In the Hatfield case, Feb 23, 2012 Defence lawyer Brian Shillere tried to get Sinclair to come up with exact dates for his claimed relationship with Norval Morrisseau. It was like trying to grab oil with bare hands.
“Shiller: Take me through a little bit of all these years with Norval Morrisseau. So you meet up with him in, was it August ’79, right; and so you’re with him continuously, ’79, ’80, ’81’, ’82?
Sinclair: No, we weren’t tied at the hip or anything; it was, it was a fluid lifestyle; we had multiple places at the same time….
Sinclair: Not together; more like comrades on the path; artists doing their thing, you know, so I mean, I could, I could down in Toronto working in the studio for a few days and then meet up. I mean, basically that’s, that’s what it, we crossed like this for 20 years. The last time he painted with me we stayed in his, my place in 1999.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Feb 23, 2012 p127)
The Case of the Missing Photos! – What is incontrovertible, and telling, is that Sinclair – who is hotter for self-promoting publicity than anyone I have ever met – has never ever produced a single photo or video showing him painting or in a working relationship of any kind with Norval Morrisseau, though he seemingly had countless opportunities to take them over a 28 year period and never even got one picture to prove what he says is true.
His single picture – like hundreds of similar tourist celebrity photos taken in Norval’s wheelchair invalid period, when the Dementia-debilitated artist could no longer even mouth “BE GONE” – is a truly pathetic one – showing Sinclair desperately reaching out to try a pretence of intimacy for the camera. It’s a fake. A mentally vacant Norval shows no interest in embracing Sinclair. The photo mirrors, rather the letter above.
No Academic Mention! – What is also true is that Sinclair is not mentioned even once in any professional or academic literature, or exhibition catalogue, dealing with Norval Morrisseau’s life as a man, or artist.
Sinclair Reborn – In fact Sinclair’s rebirth as a Morrisseau protégé and the entire bio was a total construct invented after Morrisseau’s death. In Aug, 2008 – tellingly, a year after Norval’s death – Sinclair emailed Ugo Matulic saying he now intended to use Norval’s name etc., to boost his own art career.
A Conspiracy Group that Never Was – at the Queen v Otavnik – Sinclair told Judge Lacavera, in a sworn document Sinclair signed off on, to the Toronto police, and was submitted in a court case, that John Goldi was one of eight members of “The Morrisseau/Fraudulent Art Syndicate,” listing him (myself) as working in concert with numerous people I had never ever met or even talked to, or both.
That Sick Donald Robinson – at Sinclair v Otavnik – Sinclair told Judge Godfrey, that Donald Robinson whom he had just told Judge Godfrey, was in the foyer and would testify after a short recess, came back to say Robinson was sick and had to go home, though I had just seen Robinson laughing and joking away, with Sinclair, only minutes before in the courtroom foyer
Struck by a Judge – at Hatfield v Artworld – Sinclair told Judge Martial that a judge had dismissed and “struck” two Goldi lawsuit claims, “Their two claims were struck because disclosing no cause of action…” which was totally untrue. And in fact, his fallacious claim which was untrue in every respect, became the subject of a Motion we filed, and a hearing during which Judge McCrae ordered him to remove the false information, which he had published, itself a gross violation of court rules. (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Jun 4, 2012 p202)
Unethically Publishing Secrets that Never Were – at Goldi v Sinclair – in gross violation of Ontario court rules Sinclair published secret proceedings of a Settlement Conference which were never to be published, publicly posting on his website, comments that were fallacious in the extreme to begin with, attributing actions and findings of a judge which never happened, and wildly distorting what actually happened to enhance his point of view and agenda. When he was warned to remove the false postings refused to do so for months.
It took a Motion before another judge, in a public hearing, to get them removed. When after hearing the Motion, Judge McCrae immediately ordered the Sinclair comments removed from his web site, because they were a gross violation of court rules, as well as because they were false – in the judge’s words, “it never happened,” Sinclair argued back that he was only reporting the “facts.”
A rising Judge McCrae sternly repeated, “What you say never happened.” Sinclair replied: “Let me think about it.” A visibly angry Judge McCrae, now literally leaned forward and barked, “I want them gone, NOW.”
“It was a fake, all along Kevin!” – at Hatfield v Artworld – Sinclair told Judge Martial that Sinclair had told art collector Kevin Cott, only weeks after he bought an original Morrisseau “Season of Rut for Moose,” in 2008, for $18,000, that it was a fake. Cott had testified that, in fact Sinclair recommended the painting in person, and urged him to buy it, adding: “he was ecstatic at the one I purchased” saying, “this one is unbelievable, pure Morrisseau. I can tell you 100 percent, it was done by him.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Jun4, 2012 p2)
Cott testified he only discovered some four years later in early 2012, and two weeks before his court appearance, that Sinclair posted it as a fake on his web site.
On this Sinclair testimony alone, lawyer Brian Shiller told a perceptive and nodding Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson, of the Ontario Court of Appeal, that Judge Martial had “ample grounds to call Sinclair a liar,” but chose not to.
The Enforcer Goes Nuts – Sinclair would become the most fanatic internet blogger, commenter, and cyber bully in Canadian fine art history. Wherever a web site, a blog, a newspaper, a museum, an exhibition, or a TV show gave him an opportunity to “COMMENT” on a topic he was intent on controlling, he fanatically and maliciously attacked the same people and paintings over and over again, without, ever, offering any credible, independently verifiable proof or evidence of any kind, for any of his allegations.
The Enforcer Goes Underground – Sinclair, using a variety of fake and anonymous personas, would regularly send out a blizzard of anonymous emails that were full of expletives against the same people he targeted publicly with his real name. Within only months of having asked Ugo Matulic to buy one of his paintings for $10,000, he emailed him an anonymous and vicious “death threat” telling him he would end up in a “meat grinder” (like in the movie Fargo.)
Matulic who had a site meter that traced the anonymous email threat to the C-drive on Sinclair’s “Stardreamer” hard drive, reported it to the police.
The Wisdom of Deputy Judge Gordon Z Bobesich – On Jan. 24, 2013, in Brampton Small Claims Court, Judge Bobesich leaned forward and earnestly addressed the only two people standing in front of him in court: myself, John Goldi, and Ritchie Sinclair.
“Look, let me tell you two something. Don’t you realize that that there are only two people in the entire world who care about this? Why not just settle it here and now?”
It was a telling moment for a very good reason. When utterly vile “Anonymous” attack emails were being sent to people who were being targeted by someone in the Morrisseau art cartel, I knew with a certainty of 110% that I had not sent them, not to myself or anyone else…
That left only one other person standing in the court, who, according to Judge Bobesich’s opinion, could have been motivated to send them: Ritchie Sinclair, who already had established himself as the most notorious and fanatic comment emailer, and blogger on the internet in Canadian fine art history.
The blizzard of “anonymous” emails continue in their vileness in 2014, being received by the usual targets, but now also including me, the investigative journalist covering this story, wishing on them the same pre-mature death visited on Michael Moniz. “One down; two to go,” was one I personally received following Michael Moniz’s death.
And then it gets worse – On Jan. 11, 2011 Judge MD Godfrey issued his ruling in Otavnik v Sinclair and Sinclair v Otavnik, dismissing both suits and not awarding costs to either. But more importantly, what he did NOT do was to do what Sinclair in his testimony, and Donald Robinson with his testimony and his 114 expert report demanded, to denounce Otavnik’s painting “Jesuit Preist Brings Word 1974,” a fake or forgery. Judge Godfrey told Otavnik his painting was undiminished, and not devalued in any way by the accusations made by Sinclair and Robinson, and urged him to get it forensically examined and certified. (Which, was done a couple of years later, proving Judge Godfrey’s wisdom, and Sinclair and Robinson’s ignorance, or worse.)
Within only hours of Judge Godfrey announcing his decision – disastrous for Sinclair, and Robinson who had spent six months writing his so-called expert report calling “Jesuit Preist” a fake – the vile emails started. All were, of course “Anonymous” from some malicious person who thought he could successfully hide his identity.
And the content of what they were to disclose, embroidered usually with some scatological tidbits, over the next three days, show that they could only have come from someone in the courtroom when Judge Godfrey read out his findings.
Remember Judge Bobesich’s warning about who were the only ones interested in this case?
Tracing the Vile Scatological Emails – In fact three of nine people in the court at the time, could not possibly be the source of vile emails, including the judge, the court reporter, and Otavnik who would hardly target himself, his colleagues and friends.
There were no court reporters from any media outlet; there were no court transcripts. There was no way for the information, about the decision, to get outside the courtroom.
The public had no way at all of finding out what had gone on in court, except through the only people in the public gallery, which were Joan Goldi and John Goldi, neither of whom would send vile emails to themselves or their friends.
And then there were four (4) – That left the only four other people in the whole world – remember Judge Bobesich! – who were in the courtroom at the time: Ritchie Sinclair, his roommate, Garth Cole and two female supporters. There was no one else…
By a simple process of elimination, the vile and attacking emails, featuring wildly distorted claims and alleging utterly fallacious findings by the judge, the “Anonymous” scatological emails , could only have come from the malicious practiced pen of Ritchie Sinclair or his supporters. You pick which one was most likely…
Dumb and Dumber, Fourteen Times – The totally distorted nature of the courtroom reporting Sinclair fabricated, and then leaked to the outside world, is tellingly reflected in a letter sent by Jonathan Browne – who is alleged to have a Ph.D. in dung beetles – to frequent Sinclair attack victim, Ugo Matulic, only three days after the judge’s finding was read out. It reflects no fewer than fourteen (14) UTTERLY FALSE ERRORS OF FACT Browne could only have received from no one else in the whole world, but from his frequent collaborator in perpetuating the Morrisseau cartel Hoax, Ritchie Sinclair.
REWIND – Sinclair had provided Browne the services of his longtime family lawyer, Zak Muscovitch – referred to in The Hon Justice Alphonse T Lacavera’s findings as “a fucking asshole” – to draw up Browne’s notoriously failed lawsuit to try to prove a painting he bought from Jackie Bugera, in Edmonton, AB, was a fake. Now Browne and Sinclair are at it again, only three days after Judge Godfrey’s verbal ruling, which I got – directly; not hearsay – from the judge’s mouth, and Browne got (could only have gotten) from Sinclair’s mouth.
The Enforcer Goes To Court – In 2010 Sinclair started to appear in court to testify – often in tandem with arch-Conspiracy Theorist Donald Robinson, the originator of the HOAX, whom Sinclair referred to, in court testimony as “My Mentor,” with both advancing the same ludicrous claims about fakes and forgers, but with increasingly disastrous results.
By 2014, Sinclair had had his court testimony, his so-called Morrisseau expertise, even his honesty and his credibility on all levels, utterly impugned and dismissed by a succession of judges (Godfrey 2011, Lacavera 2013, Martial 2013, Sanderson 2013). He often shared the ignominy with Donald Robinson, whom judges found just as unbelievable and declared his testimony as hopelessly tainted with obvious self-interest.
The Enforcer Pay-off – Sinclair’s various enforcer activities have been credited by members of Canada‘s fine art community, with destroying some $100 million worth of the art valuations of genuine Norval Morrisseau paintings, and with degrading and devaluing, overall, the art of all Canadian Aboriginal artists.
Means, Motive, & Opportunity – Sinclair said and did what he did, because he could.
- Sinclair, who failed to develop his artistic skills to a level where he could earn a successful living with them, became a master at cyber manipulation, and cyber stalking, learning how to control the data on the Norval Morrisseau Wikipedia site to reflect his own invented views. And learning, after a disastrous outing with his traceable “meat-grinder” email, to hide his anonymous postings better and disguise his ISP addresses by using untraceable proxy servers.
- The uncontrollable internet has provided a truly awful field of dreams for the most vile forms of self-expression by malevolent voices to a degree unknown in history.
- The print media in the 21st century which is undergoing a meltdown of epic proportions has looked more and more unquestioningly to getting free content of all kinds to replace that once provided by thinking and researching journalists – now fired by the thousands, as a cost cutting measure.
- The result is that mainstream media journalists have fallen to become the most despised profession, clawing for a position next to lawyers, politicians, and stockbrokers, at the bottom rung of disgraced and untrustworthy professions.
- Sinclair has a wildly narcissistic drive for public attention or notoriety.
“I believe the reason I met Norval was because I was meant to. Not because of his greatness but because of our mutual greatness…” (CIUT FM radio interview with David Peterson, Sep. 28, 2008)
- Sinclair was maniacally angry against the Canadian fine art community for not recognizing his “imitation Indian” art (by a white man), as the work of a genius, and of equal validity as that produced by Aboriginal artists of the stature of Norval Morrisseau.
- To revenge himself against buyers and collectors of Morrisseau art who spurn Sinclair’s “inferior counterfeit imitation Woodland art,” and for not recognizing that Sinclair is Norval’s designated inheritor and “our mutual greatness.”
- To ingratiate himself with arch-Conspiracy Theorist Donald Robinson, whom he calls “My Mentor,” and to make himself as indispensable to Robinson’s sales team as Norval had been.
When Sinclair raged into Joseph McLeod’s Gallery in October, 2008, he was angry that Robinson had failed to recognize his self-declared expertise on Morrisseau, and had not appointed him to the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Committee which was supposed to verify paintings that were genuine, for posterity.
“He came into my gallery and I did not know him. I think I might have seen him two or three times. And he was irate because he had not been asked by Kinsman Robinson to be part of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society. And I was shocked. I had no idea that he had any interest in this kind of thing, I didn’t know what his background was, and I didn’t know who he was. And I explained to him that it was not, I don’t think, the choice of Kinsman Robinson to decide who was going to be on the board, and that I guess, to summarize, he was out of his realm. They were asking for the daughter of Marshall McLuhan, who had written two or three books on the subject matter, classic, early books. They were asking, uh, the curator of the National Gallery, they were asking academics from Carleton University so my suggestion was, I didn’t have the slightest idea where he placed himself to think that they would ask him to be on the Heritage Society.” (Joseph McLeod testimony p 31, Otavnik v Sinclair March 18, 2010)
Robinson had been vigorously courting Sinclair since 2008, flattering him by asking him to do a video interview in his Kinsman Robinson Galleries to be posted on the KRG website. The KRG staff had fed Sinclair – who had previously never appeared on the radar in any way on any of this – all Donald Robinson’s wild allegations, of “thousands of forgeries by umpteen forgers.”
In October 2008, Sinclair must have considered his options: life as a 51 year-old, “inferior, counterfeit imitation Woodland artist” or one as “Chief Enforcer” for the Conspiracy Theorist cartel of white businessmen who had inherited Norval’s empty wheelchair, and who had been vigorously using Norval’s Power of Attorney (since 1990).
Sinclair’s life changed in an instant on the day he agreed to join the KRG team, while in the basement underneath sat KR1 – KR384, the dead artist’s cache of paintings worth from $40 to 50 million dollars.
What financial deal was worked out in Sinclair’s new job is unknown.
What is known is that KRG publicly posted a link to Sinclair’s malicious and fraudulent website on the Kinsman Robinson Galleries website, where it spread its false and malevolent allegations until art dealer Joe Otavnik*** filed a lawsuit and got KRG to remove the offensive link, as well as a Sinclair promotional video which KRG had made to flatter Sinclair and posted on its corporate website.
(*** Canadians owe Joseph Otavnik, a debt of gratitude, in that he was the first person to take a public stand against the HOAX and the fraud which alleged that his Morrisseaus were among the so-called fakes. Otavnik sued Vadas (and Morrisseau) for libel and defamation, challenging them to bring Norval to court to prove Otavnik’s paintings were fakes. Vadas and Morrisseau, refused to appear in court, but paid Otavnik $11,000 in an out-of-court settlement for their libel and defamation.)
Otavnik is probably the first person in history to challenge an artist to go to court and prove paintings of his which he owned were fakes. For obvious reasons the artist and his business manager chose to duck the wrath of a judge, and pay off the complainant.)
The Final Gasp by the Conspiracy Theorists – By 2014 Sinclair had propelled himself to becoming the face and the voice of the Conspiracy Theorists on the national media, trying to get traction in the gullible media for the preposterous claims he was making that had ALL, already been totally discredited by Canada’s top forensic scientists, and court after court after court. But not by CTV’s weather man, Sinclair’s final hope.
Stardreamer Bio – Not bad for a non-Aboriginal guy who:
– had never completed a single post high-school course in anything
– had never completed any art course of any kind in any art school, or community college
After dropping out of high school, Sinclair, at the age of 23, began an entry level course in commercial art in a community college, out of which he dropped as well.
“Brian Shiller – And were you given some designation as a result of that course?
Ritchie Sinclair: No; nor did I ever use such a thing such a designation.
Brian Shiller: And what did that course qualify you to do?
Ritchie Sinclair: Qualified me to do typeset; set-up; advertising; letter-set; very basic things that nobody uses any more.”
(Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Feb 23, 2012 p124)
These are the “artistic” talents Sinclair was presumably, able to show off on his CV, when he showed up to display his attractive qualities, to make himself look appealing enough for Norval Morrisseau, Canada’s most famous Aboriginal artist, to want to “hire” him.
Sinclair also testified the Morrisseau group, at the Volpe crime family’s Nexus Gallery, had wanted to make use of him as a “driver” but he had no license so could not do that either.
So Sinclair had no art qualifications, had never before even heard of Morrisseau, or seen a painting of his, and couldn’t even drive at age 23.
Just what the hell use could he possibly be to Canada’s top Aboriginal artist?
– had never even once been noted in any academic literature, press review, or gallery catalogue of any kind, as relating to Norval Morrisseau in any way in the previous 29 years (1979-2008), since he had first claimed to have painted with Norval
– Sinclair’s name is utterly and totally missing everywhere in the life history of Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, Norval Morrisseau
– had never produced even a single photo or video showing him painting with Norval
– had never once, ever before, in those same 29 years, spotted or reported a single fake Morrisseau of any kind, to anyone anywhere (review his Sep 28, 2008 radio interview)
“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” WC Fields
Right from the beginning Ritchie Sinclair, was nothing if not a totally opportunistic, self-invented, and self-promotional Morrisseau imposter and impersonator.
A legend in his own mind and that of the weather man at CTV…
AND THEN IT’S DÉJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
McDermott v Maslak McLeod & Joe McLeod
On October 17, 2013 crooner John McDermott – he can sing but he can’t read – filed a lawsuit against Joseph McLeod alleging he sold him fake Morrisseaus, and naming the source of the fakes as Gary Lamont, claiming he was the orchestrator of a vast forgery operation operating out of Thunder Bay. A claim that, absolutely, has only one possible source: Ritchie Sinclair.
Gary and Ritchie – Remember them? Norval left Ritchie (and Toronto) for Gary Lamont and Thunder Bay where he rented a house in 1982. Norval painted madly and started selling, in 1984, to Ken Whent who, with some partners was going to donate the paintings to museums for tax credits.
Referring back to his massive acquisitions of some 216 Morrisseau paintings directly from Norval and Gary Lamont, between 1984 and 1986, Ken Whent remembered:
“Obviously when we were dealing with Gary and Norval, they were both in the office together. That was the source of our providence (sic). My partner Bob Zelinski was quite meticulous in speaking with Norval to make certain that we were acquiring Norval’s works and not a product of a sham.
“Each painting was reviewed and acknowledged by Norval.
“We were not certain what we would do with the paintings because there were so many and obviously Norval was low on funds. One of the partners at the time was of the opinion that we were taking advantage of Norval. In response Norval said that we were helping him out because he had some significant bills to be paid and needed the money to continue on in life.” (email Ken Whent to Ugo Matulic, Feb 13, 2012)
Canada v Whent – In 1995 these hundreds of Morrisseau and Gary Lamont-sourced paintings would become the subject of a tax court case, because Revenue Canada protested they had been given outrageously high valuations at $900,000.
Revenue Canada said the tax credit should reflect what the Whent group paid, $130,000 not an outrageously inflated gallery price of some $900,000.
The Honourable Justice Murray Alexander Mogan was given the task to sort out the huge discrepancy.
Donald Robinson was hired by lawyer Ken Whent to make a fair and honest independent evaluation of the 216 paintings, based on the fair market value of gallery prices in 1984, 1985, and 1986.
Rather than striking a middle ground, or detecting a single fake to reject, Robinson appraised all 216 Gary Lamont originating paintings, as genuine originals and worth even more, an astonishing $1,227,550.
Justice Mogan howled with protest and drew special attention to Robinson’s deceptions. Citing his own research, Justice Mogan excoriated Robinson, saying that there were no gallery sales at all in those years and that Norval was then selling his paintings on the streets of Thunder Bay for next to nothing.
Clearly Justice Mogan did not trust Robinson, when he noted, acidly:
“Any fully informed owner of a retail art gallery would know or should have known in 1984, 1985 and 1986 that the artist’s new works were being sold by his friends and relatives on the streets of Thunder Bay at bargain prices. That knowledge would affect the prices which the owner of a retail art gallery could charge for new works in those years. Therefore, the cornerstone of the taxpayer’s independent appraisal was… seriously damaged.” (Judgment July 12, 1996, Ken A. Whent v the Queen)
Justice Mogan: Gottcha…
“When asked to appraise the 216 paintings in these appeals for the years 1984, 1985 and 1986 (before he started to sell Morrisseau’s works) Mr. Robinson was hypnotized by his own 1990 price list. When preparing that 1990 price list, he did not have any Morrisseau sales from his own gallery to rely on for the years prior to 1987. Nor did he have sales from any other retail gallery to rely on… Notwithstanding those facts, Mr. Robinson used his 1990 price list as the basic tool to appraise fair market value in the years 1984, 1985 and 1986.” (Judgment July 12, 1996, Ken A. Whent v the Queen)
In bald terms Robinson used the opportunity given him by the Tax Court – to act as a principled arms-length expert – and chose instead to depart totally and crassly from that public responsibility, to impose latter day Kinsman Robinson Galleries valuations on the market to support and inflate the prices he and his son Paul were charging in their gallery. (Judgment July 12, 1996, Ken A. Whent v the Queen)
Justice Mogan clearly found Robinson’s values (at $5683 per painting) preposterous, to be polite, noting pointedly, “I will place very little relevance upon Mr. Robinson’s appraised value…” (Remember the paintings had a 1985 “street value” of $30 or $40 if you could find Norval.)
Justice Mogan excoriated Robinson also for his willful behaviour in choosing to ignore factual information he should have taken into consideration as an honest broker, but chose to reject for personal interest.
”Mr. Robinson ignored the fact that Morrisseau had no private gallery sponsor in those years. He also ignored Morrisseau’s regrettable but down-and-out lifestyle in those years. This is surprising…”
Then he upbraided Robinson as an honest broker.
“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 works when he is currently the exclusive distributor for Morrisseau’s new works in Ontario. All of the expert witnesses were cross-examined in varying degrees about the quality of certain paintings purchased by the Appellants but Mr. Robinson, in particular, had great difficulty in saying anything truly critical of a particular painting.” (Judgment July 12, 1996, Ken A. Whent v the Queen)
In typical restrained legalese he excoriated Robinson for fabricating prices and gallery valuations that never existed, and for being totally self-serving in inflating the values that he wanted to impose on the market place for paintings his gallery was selling.
NOTE: It is utterly clear, that long before there was any talk of Morrisseau fakes or forgeries, Donald Robinson was already faking and fabricating valuations and being called on to the carpet for inventing provenance that never was, values that never were, and in being in an over-arching campaign to boost valuations of paintings he was selling based on any untruth that was handy.
In the end Justice Mogan trashed and rejected Robinson’s appraisal totally, and chose to rely on other more credible evaluators that he regarded as more honest, including Joseph McLeod.
At the time Joseph McLeod was acknowledged – even by Robinson – as the senior and most reputable Morrisseau expert in the world. McLeod had evaluated the paintings at $510,310, at far below half of Robinson’s bloated self-promoting valuations.
Justice Mogan ruled the paintings were worth $660,000, exactly half of what Robinson claimed.
NOTE: Justice Mogan would be the first of a long line of respected deputy judges, judges, and justices, in Small Claims Courts, the Ontario Court of Justice, and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, who would “reject,” repeatedly, Donald Robinson, his testimony, his “expert reports,” his credentials, his expertise, his claims, in fact questioned his very honesty, in being a credible witness, let alone a credible Morrisseau expert in authentication and valuations.
Sinclair Strikes Again – In 2013, Gary Lamont who had been at Norval’s side, while the artist provided authentication and provenance, for all 216 paintings to the Whent law firm, was named in a Statement of Claim filed by lawyer Jonathan Sommer (in McDermott v McLeod) as the initiator and orchestrator of a vast forgery ring selling countless Morrisseau fakes.
No one knows where the Sommer allegations came from, or where Sommer got his evidence, or if he even has anything credible.
Sommer revealed in a newspaper article that he would reveal his “theory” of the alleged Thunder Bay forgery ring, in court…
Well folks, a theory, is not evidence, recognized by any court. Not until proven/substantiated with independently verifiable evidence will his theory hold water to any judge.
The preposterous claim included no evidence whatsoever to substantiate these wild allegations, which seemingly doesn’t matter to this lawyer, since he will get paid his fees whether he produces credible evidence or not, or win his case or not. (Sommer had already run up estimated billings of some $56,000 in his losing Hatfield v Artworld case where he disastrously lost both at trial and in the Appeal where he pointed out some 35 errors supposedly committed by the judge.)
But the Sommer McDermott claim, however, definitely echoes a wild outburst made by Ritchie Sinclair – when he was Sommer’s only witness – in court during the Hatfield v Artworld case, during which Sinclair yelled out the names of Morrisseau relatives and friends Sinclair claimed were forgers and operators of a forgery ring.
Sinclair loudly and emphatically told Judge Martial that Gary Lamont was “definitely” a forger and fraud ring operator. (Court Trans/Hatfield v Artworld: Jun 4, 2012 p197). Judge Martial, and in turn Justice Sanderson, in the Appeal, would entirely dismiss all of Sinclair’s claims, testimony, and expertise. Neither would believe a word he said.
Sinclair has for years defamed Gary Lamont as a forger on his website. And Lamont was one of only five art dealers which were major competitors of Kinsman Robinson Galleries, targeted by Gabor Vadas with the notorious and discredited Affidavits of Forgery that started to appear in 2003-2005 bearing the severely Dementia-debilitated Norval’s name and were delivered to the relevant dealers immediately.
But Lamont was not given his accusatory Affidavit of Forgery, by Vadas until AFTER Lamont’s good friend Norval had died.
Damning Corroborative Evidence: In fact Lamont has reported, that at this very time – in early 2005 – when Norval was supposedly busy picking out forgeries and making out affidavits listing hundreds of alleged fakes, Lamont had visited his old friend Norval in his terminal care facility, and was distressed to discover that Norval couldn’t even recognize his old buddy, drinking companion, landlord, and his longtime art dealer anymore.
The Missing Photo Record – And while Sinclair has no photos at all showing him in a working relationships of any kind to his “pretend” relationship with Norval Morrisseau, Gary Lamont has published many of them, proving that he – unlike Sinclair – WAS in a long, and close relationship with Norval in the artist’s prime.
In fact Norval abandoning Toronto and Sinclair, and going off with Lamont to Thunder Bay may have irked Sinclair and could be a Motive for the attacks he has launched against him over the past 30 years.
It will be a fine day in court when Robinson appears in court as a witness accusing Lamont of being a mass marketeer of forgeries.
It will be rich to watch when brutally crossed by Brian Shiller and asked to explain how the man the Sinclair/Sommer team accuses of being a longtime mass market purveyor of Morrisseau forgeries, sold the Whent law firm 216 genuine Morrisseaus, with not a fake among them, as Robinson’s appraisal for the Tax Court proved/verified/upheld.
And as Justice Mogan has written for the ages, Robinson, alone of the experts could not find a single fault of any kind in any of the 216 Gary Lamont-sourced paintings.
“All of the expert witnesses were cross-examined in varying degrees about the quality of certain paintings purchased by the Appellants but Mr. Robinson, in particular, had great difficulty in saying anything truly critical of a particular painting.”
And each one from the man he now will face in court accusing him of having been a mass marketeer of forgeries for decades.
And with that canard demolished, as a non-starter, how can Robinson possibly claim that the same Lamont, a man in the catbird’s seat, for years, with the artist, would even contemplate making or selling a single fake, when he had all the originals he ever wanted at his disposal at a moment’s notice?
Will Robinson’s argument be that the 216 paintings were fakes that simply slipped by him at a time he was not as smart as he is today? Which is exactly how he excused buying those 31 original paintings 15 years later, saying he was only 10% as smart – in authenticating Morrisseaus – in those days as he currently is.
My Prediction: Robinson will twist in the wind as Shiller guts him, and the whole case will fall apart in another landmark Sommer disaster.
Because it all rests on the say so of one man who has zero credibility, but venom aplenty to spread, on the Morrisseau file: Ritchie Sinclair, who has for years viciously targeted Lamont, to whom Norval fled, after leaving Toronto and Ritchie Sinclair far behind in 1982.
Hell hath no fury…
All the allegations are just another absurd zinger, we’re expected to believe from Sinclair, Robinson, and Sommer’s promotion of the Greatest Fraud and Hoax in Canadian history.
And McDermott will be singing into his dotage, in Kapuskasing, and Wawa, held up by his walker, to pay off the huge legal bills he’ll have to pay to Sommer, and the damages, and legal bills, to Brian Shiller… Because he can sing, but he can’t read…
THE NEGLIGENCE & LACK OF DUE DILIGENCE BY THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA Part 2
Throughout the years of the HOAX, because of the continued laziness and negligence, by mainstream media journalists, and their refusal to do simple basic background research that would clearly prove that Sinclair’s web site is a total HOAX in its own right, they have given this absurdity a national credibility it would never ever have had, otherwise.
On April 8, 2013 the Ottawa Citizen published what can only be called a crass job ad for a lawyer, Jonathan Sommer, entitling the article “Art lovers beware: Norval Morrisseau fakes are still on the market, says lawyer.”
A lawyer who, in an epic judicial rebuff, had just massively lost the longest and most involved Small Claims Court trial in Canadian fine art history, in which Judge Paul J Martial had utterly dismissed, and repeatedly “rejected” the Morrisseau expertise, the credibility, the testimony, the expert reports, and the claims of Sommer’s only two witnesses – Ritchie Sinclair and Donald Robinson – and ruled that both the painting and the signature – which the duo had hugely maligned as both fake – were absolutely authentic.
The witless Ottawa Citizen then quoted Sommer who, in a classic case of “sour grapes,” made dismissive comments about the judge, the massively negative findings of the judge, and the Small Claims Court process. In his Appeal he accused Judge Martial of ignoring his witnesses (Sinclair & Robinson), making dozens of incompetent rulings, and wrong decisions, and demanded, on that basis to be given a new trial.
THE MEDIA COMPLICITY IN ADVANCING THE HOAX
It is noteworthy, that The Ottawa Citizen article, with its “lawyer job ad headline,” and Sommer’s judicially dissing comments about the judge and the process, and which was for months available on various web sites linked back to the paper, has for some reason, totally disappeared and is no longer available on the internet or the Citizen’s own archives.
On Feb 3, 2014, the National Post – a sister publication of the Citizen – published another distorted article whose false allegations were amplified by also posting a link to Ritchie Sinclair’s malicious and libelous website.
The neophyte and gullible journalist, Tristin Hopper, was soon pushed to change the title of the piece to a more aggressive sounding claim, and was also put upon to remove “self-proclaimed” from in front of “Morrisseau protégé Ritchie Sinclair.” Changing a truth to a fiction at someone’s behest. Wonder who?
The National Post, which had initiated and spread the HOAX as a reality, in 2001, when it compliantly and unquestioningly spread the story invented by art dealer Donald Robinson to increase the value of his Morrisseau paintings, and devalue everybody else’s, has now established a new low in journalism.
A novice journalist, who spends most of his life Tweeting a blizzard of inanities on every topic under the sun, is now doing the bidding on a Canadian fine art feature story, emailed to him by a high school dropout with no credentials in art, and motivated by a destructive mission of malice against those who refuse to acknowledge his self-proclaimed greatness as a Canadian artist.
Mainstream media journalists seem to be utterly unable to break out of their “pack mentality” and congenital stupidity in how they have handled the HOAX file since it was established in the public consciousness as a possibility – read probability – by Murray Whyte in his notoriously unsubstantiated and unverified posting in the National Post on May 18, 2001, all merely copying and spewing out anything Donald Robinson claimed as the truth.
It was the self-same Murray Whyte, now 13 years wiser, who, writing an art column for the Toronto Star on February 5, 2014, recognized the failings in his earlier published article and gamely wrote a paragraph noting my blog as a source for Star readers, and one that challenged Robinson/Sinclair’s claims as being totally debunked and discredited by court after court and forensic scientist after forensic scientist.
But the “fresh air” coverage exposing the truth in the story, and a semblance of genuine journalistic balance at the Star, lasted only a very few hours, before the paragraph referencing the work of independent investigative journalist and professional historian, John Goldi and his ground-breaking blog, theMorrisseauHoaxExposedBlog.com, and its link were suddenly, without explanation, removed in toto from the paper. Emails to the Toronto Star editor and the journalist were not returned.
The Star refused utterly to practice responsible journalism, and actually removed far more honest, true, and independent information from its article, which would have given it, at least, a semblance of journalistic balance, than what it ended up publishing.
This continuing witless calumny by mainstream media journalists promoted the fraud because of their utter failure to practice due diligence in subjecting Sinclair’s claims to a rigorous examination and review in view of the huge mountain of documentary evidence that has been published showing Sinclair’s – and Robinson’s – claims are fraudulent, malicious, defamatory, and run absolutely counter to ALL the findings by a succession of Canadian courts and judges, and the overwhelming findings of top, highly educated and specialized, Canadian forensic scientists in over 70 examinations where they found paintings Sinclair called “inferior fakes,” to be totally genuine Morrisseaus, with DNA certainty.
Above are many forensically authenticated paintings that CTV slanged publicly when it allowed discredited Indian impersonator to defame on Canada AM, and announce that the very “telltale” marks that it claimed were sure signs of fakes, are in fact the DNA that allowed forensic scientists to prove that they are authentic – and Sinclair’s claims and CTV’s, are NOT.
The boundaries of idiocy by the mainstream media just seem to escalate endlessly. In February 2014 – we kid you not – the CTV weather man and sports reporter for Canada AM, gave a national television stage for the wild rantings – all false and fraudulent – of Ritchie Sinclair.
Without in any way practicing due diligence in researching the facts alleged by Sinclair, CTV just publicized his wild comments on national TV, and promoted the man and his malicious statements and website, setting him up as some kind of Morrisseau expert for Canadians from coast to coast.
My wife and I have been documentary and educational filmmakers for the past 35 years. Whenever we have produced television programs we had to meet the stringent legal requirements set by the broadcaster’s legal department for every statement we made and published, paid for out of our licensing fee.
CTV did no such preliminary vetting at all by its legal department before giving Sinclair a huge public platform to vent his malicious and defamatory opinions, that were not supported by any proof of any kind from anywhere.
CTV clearly has set itself up for a slew of lawsuits from Morrisseau collectors whose art is exactly the same kind as Sinclair – and Canada AM – were showing on national TV, as exactly the kind of Morrisseaus that Sinclair falsely claims are fakes with the supposed telltale signs of fakes.
In fact both the Martial and the Sanderson Court recognized that the evidence is incontrovertible that exactly the signature that Sinclair and CTV paraded to the world as a sign of a fake, was the standard signature used by Norval Morrisseau. In fact over 70 different examinations by forensic scientists and handwriting experts, have ruled that these signatures – including the one shown by CTV – were done by Norval Morrisseau, with DNA certainty, and by no one else.
And in fact the Appeal Court also upheld the Martial Court ruling that both the front and the back of the painting, which Sinclair and CTV on national television, publicly slanged as fake, were genuine.
When I warned CTV and gave proof, that Sinclair had deliberately used the public platform given to him by CTV, to spread lies in which a small number of people have a huge vested self-interest, and that CTV had posted a malicious and factually false television interview with Sinclair, it removed the video from its archives.
But the damage has been done, and copies of the video have been widely copied and published by Sinclair as more obsessive self-promotion and his malicious campaign to slang Canadian judges, courts, and genuine Morrisseau paintings.
Thanks to CTV his malice persists and spreads like a virus.
And there are two more similarly set-up lawsuits currently being wildly publicized by Ritchie Sinclair through several gullible pseudo-journalists, working for CTV, for the National Post, and for the Ottawa Citizen.
Naturally, they have done no research before they publicized Sinclair’s wild and unsubstantiated claims. Sinclair is providing all of the gullible media with his wild stories with no substantiated evidence, and they are eagerly, and unquestioningly, spewing it out to the public.
And by giving Sinclair a public platform to spread his invented information, they are irresponsibly, through their negligence, their failure to due diligence as is required by their own profession of journalism, and their apparent willful ignorance, destroying millions of dollars worth of Canadian art assets.
Clearly CTV and Canada AM have made themselves hugely vulnerable to multiple lawsuits from collectors with the courts, judges, and multiple findings by top Canadian forensic scientists on their side.
It is time for Morrisseau collectors, dealers, and gallery owners, as well as Canadian museums and public institutions to start launching their own lawsuits against the media for negligently and willfully promoting a small group of self-serving people who are purposely devaluing the Norval Morrisseau art assets of Canadians.
It is estimated that the loss amounts to some $100 million in Morrisseau’s art valuations.
If you don’t want to pay a lawyer’s fees, you can still go to Small Claims Court where you can sue for up to $25,000 a painting.
If your painting is falsely labeled as a fake on Ritchie Sinclair’s website, you can sue the media for negligently promoting his libelous, malicious, and defamatory website.
And help put an end of the biggest HOAX in Canadian history.