Sordid Family Secrets Outed…
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.
“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?”
“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?”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
Choosing to rely, instead, on her memory, which served her so badly…