Major Updates – Sep. 4
“Anyone who believes these two paintings were painted eight or nine years apart, in different places – instead of the same weekend – had better get new glasses, get a hose for a colonic irrigation, and then get the hell out of the art selling business.” – the Hoaxbuster
Those Damn Buyer Beware Auctions – Art dealers are forever sleuthing out auctions to buy paintings cheap, that they can sell high. That’s why they go to Waddington’s “Off the Wall.” As a collector, I bought many fine paintings there and at other auctions, at far less than buying from art galleries, shows, or other dealers.
But, of course, you’ve got to beware of hucksters dumping crap there. I, and others, have found multiple forgeries being fenced at auctions, purporting to be by A-list Canadian artists, like Krieghoff, Thomson, Roberts, Armstrong, O’Brien, etc., all from non-Indigenous artists. In fact attending dealers spend much of their time talking about whether this or that signature is real or not etc. (The art under discussion is 99% non-Indigenous.)
In fact on Sunday when I attended the Waddington’s preview, I had hardly stood in front of the huge Morrisseau painting “Men talk about…” when another dealer I did not know smilingly said, “Do you think it’s real?” He did not know me. And he had not seen the back.
In short, he was musing, like anyone using common sense, just what the hell are supposed feature pieces by the top Canadian Indigenous artist, Norval Morrisseau, possibly be doing among all the crap art?
Madly Hunting for Morrisseaus – For decades Kinsman Robinson Galleries has also sleuthed out auctions, especially to buy Morrisseaus wherever they could buy them, so they could resell them with a 700% markup in their KRG Gallery.
And why not? They styled themselves, since 1990, as the Principal Morrisseau Dealer, and the only source you can trust, for authentic Morrisseaus, especially “direct-from-the-artist” paintings. So they routinely outbid other buyers and collectors to get any and all they could grab to sell at their own storefront. Where the profits would be maximized.
Selling Morrisseaus with a mark-up of 700% was a huge money maker for them. They made millions doing it.
In fact that was how I first met Robinson, on Jan. 26, 2000, when he was madly trying to buy up all the Morrisseaus he could, at a Randy Potter auction. He was the underbidder – as a passionate collector, I was more aggressive – on two BDP paintings I now own, including FISH 1976, and SOMA 1976 (SEE BELOW).
In the end he bid on at least 90 lots, was successful in buying 31 Morrisseaus for $54,000, which he then hugely marked up KRG’s customary 700%, and sold at his KRG Gallery. That could have netted them some $378,000.
About Face – So then why did KRG start to secretly sell some of its “Morrisseaus” to far-off “country auctions” – as Donald Robinson called them – including one in Calgary, AB? Country auctions, where the prices are guaranteed to be cut-rate, and saddled with commissions, and needless extra shipping etc., costs. It makes no economic sense at all. Why would the Principal Morrisseau Dealer, give up all that money, AND let someone else make the profit from his own KRG Morrisseaus?
Why would a Lexus dealer ship off his feature cars to Walmart? Well, maybe he thinks they’re ersatz, made in China…
What’s the economic advantage?
Better what’s the KRG motivation behind it?
On Nov. 16, 2010, Donald Robinson lamely told my wife he wanted to get rid of some Morrisseau paintings he “didn’t like,” so he sent them to a “country auction” which turned out to be Levis Auctions, in Calgary. Which is idiotic. You’re a lousy salesman if you can afford to get emotionally involved in your art, instead of trying to make a buck selling it.
Robinson claimed, lamely, he thought the Morrisseaus he sent off were genuine when he sent them off, and only later discovered they were “fakes.”
How believable is that? If they were genuine, why all this surreptitious selling of their feature artist at distant anonymous cut-rate auctions?
When my wife asked, “But when you found out they were fakes, did you contact Doug Levis*** to inform him and try to give the money back to his clients who had unwittingly paid good money for fakes?” Donald Robinson replied, somewhat snappishly:
“No! Everybody knows it’s Buyers Beware at these auctions.”
So he knew that ahead of time, and was using his knowledge for some unknown reason.
And also meaning he had no moral duty to try to correct a wrong his gallery had done to a client. I call it a rip-off. Some might call it criminal.
(*** I know Doug Levis – rhymes with Nevis – have attended his auctions in person, and have bought art from him. But Robinson did NOT know him and kept mispronouncing his name wrongly, as rhyming with Levi’s (jeans). Doug’s a highly reputable guy, and unlike a lot of people selling art, actually has a university degree in Fine Art. Unlike Donald Robinson, who has NO fine art-related degree or certification of any kind. He drifted into selling art after a failing career as an engineer with a BSc. Doug Levis would be angry to know his auction was knowingly victimized and tarnished, by an art huckster, and that his clients were being deliberately ripped off, by some calculating and unprincipled Toronto art wheeler-dealer.)
Shades of Wanker #1 – You might detect a damning echo here regarding the KRG history of Wanker #1, where KRG claimed to have discovered it was a fake in 2001, months after selling it, but DID NOT EVER inform the buyer in Toronto, even though KRG still retained her contact information in their corporate computer in 2015. As she angrily discovered when she confronted Paul Robinson after discovering all about KRG’s Wanker cover-ups on this blog.
Begging the question, why does the Principal Morrisseau Dealer, send Morrisseau paintings for someone else to sell, for peanuts, in far-off Alberta, at a “Buyer’s Beware” auction?
Confounding Mystery at KRG
In 2000, when I started doing my Morrisseau auction research – I would only start my Morrisseau HOAX blog 13 years later – I saw Morrisseaus of the same size and period, as the ones Waddington’s is auctioning for $7,000, tagged at $12,000 inside KRG’s gallery. Seventeen years ago…
At multiple Morrisseau Retrospectives at KRG, a dozen years later, I saw similar sized ones tagged for $50,000 to $65,000 or more. That was also years ago.
Why are these two paintings NOT up on the walls at his own Kinsman Robinson Galleries, tagged for $75,000 plus each?
Or, why aren’t they offered at the elite Heffel Fine Art Auctions for $75-100,000 plus?
Why are they being fenced NOT even at a Waddington’s Special Feature Auction, but at a Waddington’s lowlife “Off the Wall” auction, where all the cast-off and riff-raff art which nobody wants anymore, is dumped to sell for peanuts, or less, to flea-marketeers? Or where conmen try to fence questionable art without consequences for themselves…
Remember, it’s a “Buyer Beware Auction.”
What’s behind this KRG marketing strategy?
REWIND # In February 2013, I scorched Joyner’s and Waddington’s, in this blog, for knowingly, deliberately, and publicly, dismounting from an auction, a genuine Morrisseau painting, as a fake. So discrediting, and devaluing a genuine Morrisseau painting, “Nature as One,” in order to please a high-spending client, Kinsman Robinson Galleries, of Toronto. (I was at the preview and the auction.)
Now in August 2017, is Waddington’s at it again, to please KRG, by trying to con its clients into bidding on two KRG paintings as genuine Morrisseaus, when one has NO NORVAL DNA ON THE BACK AT ALL, and the other has, I believe, damningly fraudulent Norval writing, and a fake signature, and a fake date, on the back?
The Toronto Auction House, Waddington’s, has published that it will sell two Kinsman Robinson Galleries (KRG) originating, “Morrisseau” paintings, on Aug. 31, 2017, including: lot 282, “MEN TALK ABOUT THE POWER OF THE THUNDERBIRD” BY NORVAL MORRISSEAU (INDIGENOUS, 1931-2007), ACRYLIC ON CANVAS; SIGNED IN SYLLABICS LOWER RIGHT; SIGNED, TITLED VERSO WITH STORY LINE AND DATED ‘81, 50″ x 33.5″ — 127 x 85.1 cm.
Auction House Malfeasance: Waddington’s
Buyers Better Beware of Waddington’s – The above entry is written as gospel by Waddington’s, supposedly to “inform” its clients, with its best, honest information, including “SIGNED, TITLED VERSO WITH STORY LINE AND DATED ’81, 50″ x 33.5″ — 127 x 85.1 cm.”
The Big Lie – In fact, either Waddington’s is incompetent or vicious or malicious, or all of the above, because the only thing honest about this line in their claim, that Norval signed, titled, and dated the verso, is the size of the painting. The rest is patently and transparently, faked, false, and untrue. And its art experts Linda Rodeck, and Stephen Ranger, etc., with long experience in Canadian art, and calling themselves “Canadian Art Specialists,” clearly must have known it. It’s beyond preposterous to believe they were not aware that entry description was fraudulent.
Anyone with single digit IQs, and knowledgeable about Indigenous art, knew Waddington’s was knowingly lying to make a sale, any sale, from some gullible dupe or other.
If Waddington’s art specialists, armed with the most elementary research on Morrisseau’s writing and signature, etc., were honest about their art with their clients, they would have said something like: “Verso defaced with forged title, forged writing, and fake Norval signature, and date, NOT written by Norval. USE YOUR OWN JUDGMENT, BEFORE BIDDING ON THIS ART.”
They DID NOT. Why not? How about sucker-punching your customers?
Ask Yourself – Why are these two paintings, of the same size AND THE SAME PROPORTIONS,*** showing the same compositional distribution of elements on the canvas, similar palette variations with mixed colours, etc., showing up together at Waddington’s for sale in 2017, at the very same time, from the same consignor, supposedly some 43 years after they were painted, obviously in wildly differing places, and years apart (1974, 1981), and with obviously wildly differing paint supplies Norval may have had available at those times?
***More than any other artist in history Norval picked wild, non-standard sizes, and wildly varying, disproportionate pieces of canvas for ALL his paintings. All eight of mine are totally different in size and proportions. As are the hundreds I’ve examined in hand over the years. Finding a pair that match, like the KRG/Waddington’s duo, would be a most difficult task – I’d wager almost impossible – for anyone who wanted to put together a matched pair.
The Art Gallery of Ontario has such a marvelous matched set. But tellingly, they were ALL painted at the same time (a weekend or so) and designed as a matched set by Norval.
What Act of God brought about this happy conjunction of the planets to have two random works from 1974? and 1981? achieve this amazing coincidence, after all these years?
Simple Really – Because they’ve ALWAYS been inseparable from the beginning, whenever the hell that was. You pick the date for the weekend they were painted. You would be no less fanciful than Kinsman Robinson Galleries when it obviously did the same thing originally, saying one was “c 1974” and the other, clearly written by a forger claiming it was “1981.” Not a chance, Donald… As believable as your other KRG labels you’ve concocted in your basement Provenance Manufactory.
The acrylic painting, “Men talk about the power of the Thunderbird,” above left, has a Kinsman Robinson Galleries sticker on it, carrying the same information. KRG claims the painting is by Norval Morrisseau, Canada’s top Indigenous artist. But sadly can supply NO BDP DNA to substantiate what they say.
Personal Disclosure: As a longtime museum curator and art collector, I attended, for many years, hundreds of Waddington’s and Joyner Waddington’s auctions. My winning bids and aggressive underbidding put hundreds of thousands of dollars into their pockets.
After I published, and scorched Joyner’s senior staff, Lydia Abbott – in the “Bad and the Beautiful” (Feb. 27, 2013) – for suddenly dismounting, and so defaming and devaluing a genuine Morrisseau painting, just as a favour for Donald Robinson, I received strong legal threats to Cease and Desist, and demands I apologize, or else! That Lydia was “hurt” by my claims alleging they were all guilty of huge and deliberate auction malfeasance.
After I refused to submit to legal blackmail, I was barred from all Joyner and Waddington’s properties and auctions (May 1, 2013). My scorching, follow-up post (June 4, 2013) precipitated Joyner’s senior staff (Lydia Abbott and Rob Cowley) into quitting both Joyner’s and Waddington’s (June 2013) . Only days later (July 3, 2013), a totally shell-shocked and traumatized Geoffrey Joyner saw no option but to close Joyner’s for good, after 28 years. The upcoming Joyner’s fall auction for 2013, which he had loudly advertised BEFORE my initial blog, was never held…
Opening Impressions: To my eye, the paintings themselves were “arresting.” They seemed to me to display a palette of colour combinations that seemed to depart – be a clashing assortment pastiche of paints – and be at odds with a more uniform or coordinated grouping of colours in many genuine Morrisseaus I have seen. And I have examined a great number of Morrisseaus, in hand.
Can an artist suddenly abandon his artistic sense of what colours go together, and say “to hell with it; I’ll just throw caution to the winds…?” And produce a work that echoes a colour palette more in tune with a Barnum and Bailey Carnival billboard. Sure, he probably has off days…
The paintings also betray a use of mixed colours which never came out of a tube. Norval was known for rarely, if ever, mixing colours, and did not use an artist’s mixing palette to do so – to him it was a time waster to no good purpose. Unlike white artists, Norval preferred to just squeeze primary colours out of tubes, to get the job done fast and efficiently. Norval was driven to start a painting; but he was just as equally driven to finish the damn thing and sell it, and get some money rolling in… Mixing paints, like white artists were taught in school to do, just needlessly held up the production process for him. So, what made him change his mind here, if he did?
My view of course. But then I have only been a visual artist for some 50 years, and only doing it professionally for some 40 years.
(I am a CSC, awarded by the Canadian Society of Cinematographers for “outstanding achievement in the art of cinematography.” My work has won over 130 international awards (Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Finalists) for excellence, in international competition, at leading American film and television festivals.)
So I will NOT further comment on the painting itself, but look for signs of corroborating authenticity and verification from the titling, dating, writing, and gallery labels on the back.
(I have been a credentialed Canadian historian since 1966, and, since 1999, the Curator of Collections and Director of Research for the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum, a bricks and mortar collection of some 7,500 antique paintings, prints, and historical memorabilia – most over 100 years old.)
Apples and Oranges – or the Forger F—s Up…
Go Ahead and Compare! Is it a match? – Above is the purported writing, titling, signature, and date on the back of KRG’s “Men talk about the power of the Thunderbird 1981,” which Waddington’s claims to be “offering” in good faith as genuine…
Right is a typical Norval BDP signature, title and date from 1976. This is my SOMA 1976 which includes the only signature, on a work of art, I know of, in the world, to have been forensically authenticated by TWO independent handwriting scientists. One of them gave it the first “beyond DNA” authenticity rating of 100%, another first for a Morrisseau painting or any other Canadian artist.
A similar BDP signature was tested in a Canadian court (Hatfield v Artworld 2011-2012) and found by two judges to be 100% authentic. On Mar. 25, 2013 Judge Paul J Martial issued a judgment that said that there is “overwhelming evidence” that Norval signed thousands of his painting like that in the 1970s and 80s. His judgment and conclusions were totally upheld on appeal by Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson in a Toronto court on Dec. 17, 2013.
To date some 200 such signatures have been authenticated by forensic handwriting examiners.
Donald, How Could You? – As I watched, Donald Robinson testified, under oath before Judge Martial, that ALL such BDP signatures are fake, involving some 3-4,000 paintings. That he had never seen a real one, which brought a Bronx cheer from the Hon. Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson in her Appeal judgment. Neither judge believed a word of what the Principal Morrisseau Dealer said. And noting he had NO credentials that allowed him to make any of his “expert” claims, under oath on the stand, or in his “expert reports,” all of which were “rejected.” The judges felt a BSc and a business MA, were not really relevant credentials to be pompositing about fine art analysis, make handwriting pronouncements, best left to forensic experts, or go twaddling on about Morellian gobbledygook.
Robinson claimed Norval never signed a BDP, that he either left his canvases BLANK on the back, or did something in pen or pencil. He was probably referring to what’s on the back of “Men talk about…” as the real Morrisseau writing. And this one below sent in by a reader.
With all the comparative data I provide on this page, do you really need a forensic scientist to assess them???
My Analysis and Conclusion: I believe the writing, the titling, and the signature on the back of “Men talk about…” is all fraudulent. A lot of this is based on, examining “in hand” many hundreds of Morrisseau originals, listening to forensic experts discuss Morrisseau’s writing in court, and reading dozens of forensic reports by top handwriting experts of other Morrisseau paintings, as well as studying Norval’s letters, like the one below.
Ask Yourself? – Why didn’t the Waddington’s art specialists come to exactly the same conclusion and inform their clients? Instead of deliberately misinforming them that Norval did it…
Do you believe Waddington’s is showing Good Faith, in offering this painting and its mate to its clients…?
The KRG Sticker – And since the KRG sticker is on it, and repeats the same information, I believe the fraudulent writing may have been done by someone in its basement Provenance Manufactory.
I have previously published lots of data and photos that prove, conclusively, that KRG has a well documented record of deliberately omitting, obliterating, fabricating, falsifying, and changing, and adding, titling, dates, names, sources, etc. (AKA the “Provenance”) of paintings it falsely claims to sell as having originated directly from Norval Morrisseau. Including, once, changing a Morrisseau “loon” into a KRG “Thunderbird” in its gallery display header and KRG label on a painting.
KRG & Provenance – Regarding fraudulently falsified or undocumented non-BDP paintings exactly like “Men talk about…” and “Christian Native,” (below) and according to the KRG label, supposedly created “c 1974” and “1981” – some 15 and nine years before the Robinsons had anything to do with Morrisseau – Robinson, then passing himself off as Principal Morrisseau Dealer wrote, “… we would never recommend amassing such a (Morrisseau) collection with no (documentary chain of title) support. Provenance is everything in the art world.” (KRG Principal Morrisseau Dealer Blog May 8, 2008)
Which is why I believe Kinsman Robinson Galleries had set up such a huge Provenance Manufactory in its basement, to make sure its clients got all the “Provenance” they wanted, and more… all for the same price…
Now do you know why New York’s longtime MOMA Director, Thomas Hoving, and one of the world’s top art experts and art fraud sleuths, wrote scathingly:
“Fuck off with your provenance… that can all be faked?” I believe he could have been talking about Paul and Donald Robinson’s KRG operations.
And ask David Mirvish, about the provenance he was promised by the best people, in the best New York gallery, causing him to lay out $12 million for three Jackson Bollocks fakes. And Steve Martin, the AGO “celebrity curator,” who was similarly sucker-punched by promise of bullet-proof provenance, into spending $880,000 US, on a fake Campendonk.
And Norval Chimes In – An echoing voice was Norval Morrisseau himself: “White man’s paper’s no fucking good.” (Pollock, Dear M, p39) And Norval, with his Indigenous background, was ahead of the curve on this knowledge long before Tom Hoving discovered it…
The Outlaw Josie Wales (whimsically) – “Well it seems we can’t trust the white man…”
Chief Dan George (defiantly) – “You bet we can’t…”
In short, what the Robinsons and KRG were warning its clients and website readers, about was: “Don’t buy paintings like this, that are NOT directly from the artist, that have been kicking around, who knows where, for decades, before some art selling huckster ends up with them and tries to con you into buying them.”
Delicious irony: this time the Robinsons have been caught by their own snare… and hoisted on their own petard…
One of the damning results of starting an art fraud – which the Robinsons did in May 2001 – is that it will destroy the integrity of ALL the art of the artist they are targeting. The multi-level denigration of Norval’s genuine art by the Robinsons and their NMHS collaborators, has hugely destroyed entirely, for the next generation, the art valuations of Norval Morrisseau’s Indigenous paintings. It has also discredited and devalued the art heritage of a man who put millions into the pockets of the Robinsons, only to have them victimize him and exploit his mental and physical debilities in his old age for their own self-serving purposes.
It has also undermined the public’s trust in the integrity of ALL Indigenous art and artists, and done great irreparable harm to the cultural heritage of Canada’s Indigenous people.
And, of course, the blowback is now coming back to undermine the purported “Morrisseau” art they claim to be selling.
Red Flag #1 – Norval Never Wrote in Longhand – The seven lines of writing on the back appear to be in pencil and are neatly and cleanly written in longhand by a schooled writer.
All the letters we’ve ever seen, in hand, in internet archives, on multiple forensic reports, etc., and known to have been written by Norval, were PRINTED, NOT written in longhand.
And we are not alone…
This has been hugely confirmed by none other than Donald Robinson himself. In fact, all the authentic samples of Norval’s writing – including Norval’s signatures – which Donald Robinson himself put in the addendums of his multiple “expert reports” were, without a single exception, ALL printed. Robinson supplied NO longhand writing samples from Norval. Why not? Well, because there are none…
Even Norval’s long, eight or nine page letters were printed. Something which very few literate writers would ever do, because it’s far too arduous. But not for someone who had no alternative cursive writing skills.
The paragraph on the back of “Men talk about” was written at speed – not slowly, as if copying from some source – and at one go, by an author who was clearly comfortable with his/her own particular and fluid writing style and effortless forming of their lettering. So clearly by an author who was NOT Norval.
I believe the author of the school girlish writing was a woman, a young woman.
So, ask yourself why is KRG selling such a fraudulently fabricated work when Robinson himself very well knew Norval didn’t – probably, with only a grade four education, couldn’t – write flowing longhand, as is loudly and flagrantly written on the back of “Men talk about.”
Making the long titling etc., on the back of this painting impossible to ascribe to Norval.
Something, which the writer, who did compose it clearly did not know. (Though they managed to add a few grammatical gaucheries – probably deliberately, to make it look more like the writing of an uneducated “bush Indian.” Hoping to add “authenticity” to help con a gullible buyer.)
I’ll bet that the writer, who was quite literate, obviously from the neat writing, deliberately did her “mannered” and contrived “illiterate” fabrications in grammar and spelling.
(If you have an authenticated longhand letter written by Norval, kindly send me a copy, please, and I’ll apologize…)
Red Flag #2 – Teed Off – We’ve never seen Norval write “t”s like are repeated over and over on the back of this painting. They belong to someone else, not Norval. Norval used crossed stick “t”s all the time. And unlike the case here, where Thunderbird has a deliberate “schooled” capital “T” on a proper noun, Norval – who was notoriously unschooled and brazenly showed it in all his letters, and notes – used lower case “t”s when writing “thunder Bay,” for example. (see above.)
All the lower case “t”s here are also ALL tailed off. Something Norval never did with his printed unwaveringly vertically straight stick “t”s.
Red Flag #3 – Positively Preposterous “P”s – We’ve never seen Norval write, elsewhere, single stemmed “p”s which are repeated over and over, on the back of this painting. We’ve NEVER seen them in any letter we’ve found that Norval wrote – I should say PRINTED – because Norval always printed… These single stem “p”s belong to someone else, not Norval, who always noticeably looped and double lined the stem of his “p”s.
We could go on… Do your own analysis of other letters.
Red Flag #4 – Fake Signature – The signature on “Men talk about…” was deliberately, and fraudulently, added underneath the writing – which I have already discredited – to make it appear that Norval wrote it all, as well as signed it and dated it. Compare it with the one below:
The signature is, NOT AT ALL, a standard Norval signature, and does not conform to any other Norval signature I have ever seen, in hand, on internet archives, or on multiple forensic reports written by handwriting forensic experts Brian Lindblom, Ken Davies, and Dr. Atul K Singla. I challenge you to send me a copy of one to prove me wrong…
Norval printed his first name, with his pen, or pencil, by almost always, lifting them and leaving the paper to jump to the next letter. The terminal “a” and “l” were the only letters he often joined without doing so.
The lead-in tail on the “o,” and completing it with a looping the loop, exit tail, is doubly highly unprecedented. Norval always used single stroke “o”s often with an incomplete, open, or weakly joined tops of the letter.
The conjoined lettering makes this signature one of a kind in the way the letters are written, and joined together.
I have never seen a Norval signature where all the letters are joined. It is very mannered and school girlish, in execution, and not at all like Norval. I have never seen a match… And neither have you. Or ever will.
Norval just never signed like this.
Red Flag #5 – The Oddball Title – Norval’s titles were creative, and often pretentious and grandiose. This weak title is highly awkward and blandly odd, as if Donald told the secretary, “We need a title. Clients expect titles. Make up something for me. Anything at all is better than nothing…” The result “Men talk about” is a big, and noticeable departure from Norval’s poetic, dramatic, and highly idiosyncratic titling style.
In short, Norval DID NOT make up this title; a passionless someone, without a creative or artistic soul or bone in their body, without a flair of the dramatic, made up this incredibly throw-away title. Just like the ensuing paragraph, and just like the Norval signature underneath that.
All are huge departures from Norval’s “known” norms, and ludicrously unconvincing and ultra poor fraudulent contrivances.
Red Flag #6 – That Fake “1981” – The Fakery Adds Up… The fake titling, the fake writing, and the fake signature, all have a “pile on” effect to make the date ’81, also totally untrustworthy and unbelievable as well.
I believe that you cannot take any of this to a forensic scientist and handwriting expert, and NOT be laughed out of his laboratory. Because no one has original Norval letters or original Norval signatures, that look like any of this writing, to make a comparative analysis against.
Hell even amateur handwriting analysts can go online, find Norval’s letters and compare them, and discover for themselves how far off the mark they all are.
I believe this fabricated and fraudulent titling, writing, signature, and dating, has irretrievably defaced and devalued this painting, no matter who painted it…
If so much of the back is fraudulent, how much faith can you have that the painting itself is not faked as well, by someone other than Norval?
Norval would never/could never write a longhand essay on the back of anything like this. And have someone else sign it for him with a fake signature.
Red Flag #7 – The Kinsman Robinson Galleries Label – For me, the KRG sticker also hugely devalues the painting, as well, since the KRG label is notoriously associated with a well documented history of numerous episodes of art gallery and auction malfeasance:
– being the host gallery of the most discredited art evaluator, and art expert in world history, with the astronomically most discredited false calls on original paintings ever committed by any art expert anywhere in this world or the next, KRG’s Donald Robinson, and his loyal and dutiful understudy, Paul Robinson.
– slanging countless genuine paintings as “fakes,” when they have been authenticated by multiple judges, multiple forensic experts, and Morrisseau family members, as done by Norval,
– deliberately altering, in multiple ways, the provenance of many genuine paintings in its basement manufactory to hide genuine Provenance and replace it with fabricated KRG Provenance it invented,
– selling Morrisseau “studio” paintings, from 1990 onwards, done, in whole or in part, by other studio artists, including Burrows, Vadas, Ross, etc. when Norval’s mental, physical, and artistic abilities began their precipitous decline, and he approached his “Wheelchair Invalid Period of Painting,” AKA and synonymous with, the “KRG Period” of painting,
– having Donald Robinson’s sworn “expert testimony” about Morrisseau art valuations, and alleged fakes, totally rejected or impugned by a vast array of Justices, Judges, Deputy Judges, and lawyers who commissioned them,
– having all three huge Donald Robinson authored “expert reports,” alleging forged Morrisseaus, totally and resoundingly “rejected” by multiple judges and lawyers acting for clients,
– and launching vicious, malicious, and meretricious SLAPP suits against people – like Ugo Matulic – who were exposing these things to the public,
– recruiting an aggressive over-the-top art fraud enforcer, Ritchie Sinclair, with a well documented history of art and cyber terrorism, to threaten KRG business competitors with violence (in 2010 Toronto Police charged him for multiple incidents after he refused to stop harassing Joseph McLeod) unless they bent to the Robinson family’s demands to dismount paintings from shows etc., and close down book launches, or else… He was finally also found guilty of Libel and Slander, resulting from his work done for KRG.
Making me wonder. Who the hell paid the $28,750 the judge fined the starving artist, who lives in his roommate Garth Cole’s apartment, to make ends meet…?
Burrowsseaus – Karl Burrows, a fine artist in his own right, and the longtime contract painter for the Vadas and Morrisseau studio, has written that during this period, studio artists also backdated paintings to periods when Norval was healthier and less shaky, clearly with the intent to try to give “studio” paintings more credibility to disarm the suspicious and gullible buying public.
How Could You Karl? – Burrows has also written that, after 1989, he painted many Morrisseau paintings, in whole or in part, and signed them on the front in syllabics, with Norval’s name. That these were sold through KRG, and Coghlan Art Gallery in Langley, BC, BOTH OF WHOM knew their origin or “Provenance,” which was NOT Norval. And of course – we have Donald Robinson’s own word – were all BLANK on the back. Why, you ask?
Blank Backs are Better – Because it would have been totally impossible for them to forge Norval’s huge and distinctive BDP signatures, titles, dates etc. on the back. Forensic experts would have detected their forged writing and impugned the art on the front as also forged…
Back to the BDPs – But back in 1981, as everyone knows, when this painting was supposedly painted, in fact, Norval was still signing hundreds of BDPs in huge black drybrush paint. And those you can take to the bank, or to a forensic scientist, which is what this blog is all about.
Especially since Mar. 25, 2013, when Deputy Judge Paul J Martial ruled – in a watershed judgment regarding supposed Morrisseau “fakes” – that “Wheel of Life 1979” was a totally 100% genuine Morrisseau, on both the front and the BDP back. And he said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Norval signed thousands of his genuine paintings with such BDP signatures.
The trial judgment was hugely supported with the Appeal judgment of Dec. 17, 2013, of the Hon. Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson, whom I heard on Dec. 6, 2013, openly scorning and chiding the fraudsters who claimed otherwise.
Conversely, I know of no parallel authentication of any kind that is a match for what’s on the back of this painting.
There is so much dramatically wrong with this painting, I wouldn’t buy it, at any price.
But if you – or a colleague or friend – want it, for some crazy reason, here’s what I suggest:
Demand: that Waddington’s, as a condition of sale, FIRST:
– PROVIDE A NOTARIZED AFFIDAVIT FROM KRG LISTING THE CHAIN OF TITLE OF THE PREVIOUS OWNERS OF THIS PAINTING BACK TO WHEN THE ARTIST PAINTED IT IN “1981.” It’s exactly what the Robinsons have been demanding for years from all their art gallery business competitors in selling Morrisseaus – now, I say, it’s their turn to “pony up,” and
– SECONDLY, again as a condition of sale, get Waddington’s to agree to submit, and pay for, the painting’s writing and signature to be analyzed by either of two credentialed handwriting experts and forensic examiners, Ken Davies of Hawkeye Studios in Calgary, AB, or Dr. Atul K Singla of Toronto, ON.
And ask them to make a determination of authenticity on the writing and the signature with their backlog of known Morrisseau writing, letters, and signatures.
What they say goes, and supersedes the claims of any self-serving Gallery Label, or any self-interested auctioneering art huckster. If the forensic experts affirm both writing and signature, as authentically Norval’s, go with them.
If the forensic experts refuse to make a determination, or say they can’t, or worse, call the lettering NOT compliant with known Morrisseau writing or signatures, run like hell for the exit…
And if Waddington’s refuses this obviously sensible request, as a pre-condition to a sale, to provide a notarized “Chain of Title,” or to submit it to an independent handwriting expert, it can only be because:
– Waddington’s believes the writing is fake
– Waddington’s believes the title is fake
– Waddington’s believes the signature is fake
– Waddington’s believes the date is fake
– Waddington’s doesn’t trust the painting
– Waddington’s doesn’t believe the KRG Gallery label is trustworthy
– or ALL of the above.
And Waddington’s is just trying to fence a highly questionable painting to help an old loyal client – Kinsman Robinson Galleries – get rid of some of its fake, Blank-backed, Morrisseau studio paintings from the mid-to-late 1990s. From its stash of countless undocumented Burrowsseaus, Vadasseaus, or Rosseaus…
Note: Gallery Director John MacGregor Newman, the KRG Associate Gallery Director told a contact of mine on the phone that KRG has “hundreds” in the basement.
Let the Waddington’s response to your request be your best guide as to the authenticity of this painting.
Hell, if they don’t trust the writing, the signature, and the Gallery label, do you really think you should?
Double Trouble – Waddington’s Lot 283 – There is a second “Morrisseau” painting from KRG in the same auction.
Lot 283 – “Christian Native” – NORVAL MORRISSEAU (INDIGENOUS, 1931-2007) ACRYLIC ON CANVAS (ca. 1974); SIGNED IN SYLLABICS LOWER RIGHT; TITLED TO GALLERY LABEL VERSO – 49″ x 35″ — 124.5 x 88.9 cm.
This painting, which I prefer to call “A Babe in Brown Briefs” is an oddity.
This painting was clearly sent in by the same consignor, who for some unknown reason, no longer loves the painting… and wants to dump it as well. I can guess why. Can you?
It has the same kind of non-standard Morrisseau palette, but this time has NO writing on the back, that you could trace back to Norval.
So to belabor the point – NO BDP! So Norval did not sign, title, or date this painting on the back.
So what proof have you got that he did the front?
The Robinsons are on the record in court saying that ALL the Morrisseau paintings KRG sold after 1990 were BLANK on the back.
SO, no BDPs. And so NO DNA from Norval to assure you that any writing, the title, the date, or the signature is his. No BDP DNA which could, of course, be confirmed by a forensic expert.
With BLANK backs you are SOOL my friend, with any KRG-sold Morrisseau painting from 1990 onwards…
In fact the Robinsons of KRG would not meet Norval until 1989. So who knows where this purported “c 1974” or the other phony “1981” dated painting was at that time – if they even existed then…?
It also has that totally unreliable KRG label full of KRG invented, unsubstantiated bumpf… in the clearly bogus title and the clearly invented date.
Which betrays again, a second KRG painting with another title for the painting, “Christian Native,” that Norval NEVER wrote or created. Someone at KRG, again, clearly made it up. Ask yourself, since the back is blank, where the hell did all this information come from? This was – I’d stake my life on it, clearly invented OUT OF NOTHING by some white inventive genius, not by anyone of Indigenous background.
And someone at KRG, again – certainly not Norval – also invented the “ca 1974,” supposed creation date. If they can’t even tell you the specific month and year a major work was completed in modern times, everything to do with the painting is suspect.
I started my career as a filmmaker c 1978, and can tell you exactly which year and month I was working on every one of my subsequent visual arts productions over 40 years. Why can’t KRG, who said it was Norval’s sole representative during the 1990s and early 2000s, when it sold some 1,000 of his purported paintings? It has no definitive dates even for its 1990s works… Preposterous!
But not if they had an assembly line going, piling up the stuff… So, understandably, it was hard to keep track.
Preposterous and Damningly Suspicious – I regard it as totally suspicious and unconscionable that KRG cannot, like I can with mine, precisely date Norval’s major works they claim are “Morrisseaus” and they ludicrously dated “c 1996,” “c 1997,” etc.
Even for major works KRG supplied to its longtime accomplice in promoting the Morrisseau “fakes” HOAX, the National Gallery of Canada’s Greg Hill, who put a number of such questionable paintings of dubious origin, and unknown dates, into the National Gallery of Canada’s Norval Retrospective Catalogue.
Hill, a KRG toady since at least 2005, should have been fired long ago by the National Gallery of Canada, for his multi-level complicity in fronting for a fraud that has done great irreparable harm to the art and artists of Canada’s Indigenous people.
Unfortunately, there is NO DNA or BDP info on the back of “Christian Native,” to verify that Norval had anything to do with titling, dating, or even painting this picture.
Coupled with the highly fabricated – make that forged – and dubious Provenance of the previous Lot 283, supposedly “Men talk about the power of the Thunderbird” painting from the same gallery, with the same label, you are on your own.
Donald Robinson told Judge Martial that Morrisseau fakes are worth “Nothing; zero.” Does that not include paintings that have all the earmarks of “fakes?”
Do you like gambling with your money on such dubious works of art?
Myself, I’d rather spend it on a Russian au pair to help me look after my aging Labrador, Fanny… “Hey Natasha…! Have you got a minute?”