My Mother the Forger…

Sordid Family Secrets Outed…

“AKA Hans Werner” – Unfortunately larceny runs in the family. I tried to cover up my real identity too, when I sneakily changed my name from Hans to John in 1950, when we came to Canada. Alas, you can’t hide your criminal past forever. 67 years after the last time I ever used that name, lawyer Jonathan Sommer’s sleuthing outed, in a court document, another sordid family secret from the Goldi past… my original foreigner name as a deliberately deceptive “AKA.” (Above Ruth Lüchow-Suter Göldi (1917-2014) and Hans Werner Göldi on the Bodensee, Switzerland, in April 1942. 12 kms across the lake, Allied bombers are incinerating Germany, and Mom’s relatives.)

My mother was an art forger, you know…

Attending the Hearn v McLeod trial reminded me of this.

It’s long been a dirty family secret, but Mom is dead now – she died at 97 in 2014 – so I feel I can reveal her sordid past for the public good.

I’m sure, if she were still living, Mr. Sommer would have been pleased to put her in his line-up of self-confessing art forgers.

When Mr. Sommer would ask her “Did you forge paintings, Mrs. Goldi? I remind you not telling the truth is a serious offence. I caution you, you are not a lawyer,” she would have said, “Yes, Mr. Sommer, I did. I’m sorry but I did.”

As well as being a good artist, she was an honest person, of sorts, aside from forging paintings, that is.

When Mr. Sommer would ask her,

“Now Mrs. Goldi, tell the court exactly when, and how you forged “Spirit Energy of Mother Earth 1974,” I’m sure Mom would have done her very best to try to be helpful.

After all Mr. Sommer had been nice to her, and paid for her plane fare, her hotel bills, and expenses… And a free trip across the country… So she would do what any decent person in her position would, try to please her benefactor.

Schloss Werdenberg, the medieval Goldi castle in the Rhine Valley, Switzerland. The Rhine is in the mist beyond; the mountains are Austria. (A Christmas present 1969, when my wife and I had just returned from serving two years as high school teacher and adult education teaching volunteers, on local salary, for CUSO, in remote northern Uganda.  From my Mom, Ruth Lüchow-Suter Goldi.)

The telltale back of a painting, which is almost always the key determinant in helping establish if what is on the other side is genuine. Why? Because every artist – like my Mom and Yours – want to leave something personally identifiable for the Ages.  Artists, like Mom and Norval, are proud craftspeople and don’t want to leave Blanks AKA Blank Backs behind to mark their passing. Not, at all, the case with Morrisseau, as ALL Morrisseau fraudsters absurdly claim: that Norval left only Blank backs… with, on rare occasions, a pen or pencil notation… Really? Both Mom and Simpson’s say the fraudsters are wrong…

Virtually the only pen and pencil writing you will ever see on the back of paintings are by the framer. The fraudsters have their story orchestrated, claiming Norval sometimes wrote in this crimped, introspective, retiring, minimalist scratching on the back of his art with pen or pencil. HARDLY LIKELY. Maybe a very few times. BUT Norval had a personality bigger than life, was hugely overbearing, sexually aggressive, opinionated, and wildly over-the-top in his habits, behaviour, and actions. And only signed like a shy schoolmarm the very odd time? OR NOT AT ALL… It’s an idiotic claim to make because the two things do NOT at all jibe. And sure enough, some 150 forensic reports of BDPs show Norval’s signature on the back was as big and blowsy as the guy who painted the front, who in his off hours, wrecked houses, motels, went on brawls, etc. No he didn’t go to sharpen a pencil… Norval lived life large, painted large on the front, and signed large, with a monstrous BDP, as big as his personality, on the back… Certainly no blank on the back for Norval, the biggest personality and most egotistically over-the-top artist Canada has ever produced.

Even Simpson’s tells you they know what every artist wants to leave For the Ages, and so it has provided a special place on the BACK of ALL IT’S ARTISTS’ PRIMED CANVAS PANELS, to make it easy for my Mom  and Yours, to do what ALL artists WANT TO DO. Remember only fraudsters and their operatives – not any artists you or I have ever known – want Blank backs and secrecy… AND FORGERIES… BDPs do not denote or hide forgers – they expose them.

“Well, I can’t say if I forged that one exactly, but I did lots of others Mr. Sommer. Isn’t that a nice one I did of the Goldi castle?”

“No, Mrs. Goldi, you’ve really got to try harder. Forging others you may have done, is of no use to me. I need to prove that you have direct involvement in forging “Spirit Energy.” I have to prove THAT painting is a fake, NOT all those others you may have forged. That’s really immaterial and of no use to me in what I have to prove here.”

“Now, try again Mrs. Goldi. Can’t you recollect, for me please, painting Spirit Energy?”

I was some pissed off to discover, years later, that Mom had, unforgivably, forged my painting from this postcard. I wonder, how many other Moms have done this to their kids…?

“Well, I can’t really say. But wait, I’ll ask Mary, my neighbour; she used to paint with me. Maybe she did it. Would that be helpful to you Mr. Sommer?”

“Grrrh…”

“But you know, when I come to think of it again, that “Spirit” one looks far too good. I mean it looks like it was painted by a real artist. And it was so long ago. I mean, it just doesn’t look like something small time art forgers like Mary and I could do… I’m sorry Mr. Sommer.”

“That will be all, Mrs. Goldi… And because you refused to be more helpful, I’m going to have to Gag your son.”

“Spirit Energy of Mother Earth 1974” – A typical 1970s BDP of which Judge Martial found that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Norval signed thousands of these in this way. (By the fall of 2017, over 150 forensic reports, by different independent handwriting experts, have affirmed what a wise judge he was.) On Sep. 25, 2017, a forensic report from a professional handwriting expert, proved “Spirit” was authentically signed and painted by Norval Morrisseau, NOT by my mother, Mrs. Goldi… Sorry Ma, no credit for you. Your Goldi castle’s good, but not this good…

A Personal Note

I have always hated “Spirit Energy of Mother Earth 1974,” having only seen it, for years – you know like Professor Robertson – from lowlife internet jpegs. And the colours looked, OK, frankly awful… It’s NOT a Morrisseau I would ever have wanted to buy.

Then on October 2, 2017, I saw it in a courtroom for the first time, up close and personal, and received – Wow – a pleasant and total surprise. It looked nothing like the dupes I had seen for years…

I returned to my seat and turned around to Kevin Hearn, the owner of the painting, sitting immediately behind me and said, “Holy cow, that painting is a great surprise, after only seeing it on internet dupes. It’s actually a very wonderful painting. Amazing! A Great Canadian Heritage Treasure.”

Kevin dryly replied, “I’ll sell it to you for $25,000.”

I replied, “Sorry Kevin, but you and your lawsuit claiming, for years, that it’s a “fake,” have destroyed its value for the Ages. Don Robinson says “fakes” are worth nothing.”

Kevin said nothing. I turned around. 

Two decorative Wascana Floaters, something Professor Robertson says in her report that Norval never painted; that a forger painted the seven in all, on “Spirit Energy of Mother Earth.”

I would caution any of you, thinking of buying a Russian mail order bride, only from seeing a picture in a catalogue or book – again a favourite methodology of Professor Robertson in authenticating original paintings. It could prove to be a major disappointment, once you got your hands on the real thing…

Or a wonderful surprise. Just as happened to me with “Spirit Energy.”

It’s a telling cautionary that NO ONE – with or without Lakota DNA – should make judgments about original paintings they have NOT SEEN IN HAND, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, just based on picture books or internet jpegs.

“Wascana Floaters” I wished I’s seen before I published…”

Wot the hell is this? Explain please Professor Robertson… Does that look like Norval to you, say about 1963, maybe in Kenora? And gol blimey, do you think those are Wascana Floaters…? And SIX of them… Wow! And four are decorative! But professor I thought you said…

And is of course why professional forensic scientists and handwriting analysis experts want to see the real thing in hand, not a dupe, before assessing an original of any kind. So that they avoid falling into the trap that Professor Robertson set for herself…

By pointing out those seven Wascana Floaters that she says are ironclad proof – based on her expertise – that the painting’s a fake.

Blissfully unaware that photos exist of Norval with paintings with Wascana Floaters. And that ALL her colleagues have published numerous paintings over the years, as genuine Morrisseaus, scores of which contain many, many Wascana Floaters…

And the Canadian Museum of History’s own coat of arms features both, a CONNECTED “divided circle,” that Robertson says are the only genuine ones, and a Wascana Floater – DISCONNECTED WITH LINES TO OTHER PICTURE ELEMENTS, that she says are sure signs of a fake.

So, who’s right? The Professor or the Canadian Museum of History?

If Professor Robertson had only remembered a few basic cautionaries she would not have called a “fake,” a painting found to be authentic by a  handwriting expert, who possesses scientific skills she admits – in her own report – she has NO, NONE, ZIP, NADA expertise.

The Daring Professor – But it didn’t stop the daring professor from saying all kinds of things regarding authenticity based on a sample group of 44 paintings, of which she had only “observed” 8 – that’s eight folks – in the flesh.

And those eight she had only observed years before she wrote this report, doing it all from patches of memory of three, four, five years before…

In fact Professor Robertson – according to her own documentation – DID NOT EXAMINE A SINGLE ORIGINAL PAINTING IN HAND, FOR THE PURPOSES OF HER REPORT, OR IN THE TIME FRAME IN WHICH SHE WROTE THIS REPORT.

Not one.

Choosing to rely, instead, on her memory, which served her so badly…

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