229 Page Special Report…
The WHITE PAPER on:
The Physical, Mental, & Artistic Decline of Norval Morrisseau
(1980s – 2007)
Challenging as Utterly Absurd: the claim that Norval was a fully functioning human being, mentally and physically, till 2001, let alone in the years after.
EXPOSED: how Norval Morrisseau, a Stroke, Dementia, Alcohol Dementia, and Parkinson’s-plagued Aboriginal wheelchair invalid, was increasingly used and abused, after 1990, by “greedy white men” using crafty lawyers, gullible Proxies, & the witless media, to promote the Hoax of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers”
– Norval’s “greedy white man” complex
– Norval’s explosive and highly revealing “Confessional Diary” paintings
– the grossest case of elder abuse in Canadian history
– the worst case of “art terrorism” in Canadian history
– the biggest art “heist” in Canadian history
– the “stroke” that brutally clarified the HOAX for me
– why Norval had the most destroyed mind and body of any leading Canadian personality in history
– why Norval was “physically and mentally” much more deteriorated, and far earlier, than his white “handlers” have ever admitted
– why Norval was “artistically” incapacitated much longer and earlier than his white “handlers” have claimed or revealed
– why Norval’s “wheelchair invalid period of painting” lasted much longer than his white “handlers” previously claimed
– why art historians and scholars must start to research and refer to Norval’s post-1989 period of painting as the “Burrowsseau” period
– why Norval could never have been involved, in any way, in drafting his notorious Affidavits of Forgery (2003-2005) that targeted only the business competitors of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries, and no one else
– why Norval could never have been involved, at all, in 2005, in setting up the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society (NMHS), AKA the “branch plant operation” of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries
– why no crusading Judge, no investigative cop, no canny forensic scientist – in fact no other independent investigator of any kind – has ever found or produced proof for a single Morrisseau BDP forger or forgery
– why Norval had to “disappear” as the “Hidden Indian” and the “Dumb Indian” and die before the HOAX could begin
– why Norval had to die, and be buried for a year, before Ritchie Sinclair dared to publish his malicious web site
– why the RCMP waited till Norval was dead before beginning its three-year investigation into “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers,” and then ended up charging not a single forger or forgery
– why the Conspiracy Theorists waited till Norval was dead before daring to show up in any court with their allegations that it was a mentally alert and healthy Morrisseau, who was the sole source for their claim of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers”
– why the Conspiracy Theorists have never taken a single forger, forgery, art dealer, art gallery owner, or auctioneer, to court in 23 years, but have worked the HOAX entirely through gullible CT Proxies like Val Ross, Doctors Browne & Witmer, and Hatfield, Hearn, & McDermott, who pay, and pay, and pay… chasing after “fool’s gold”
– why the Hatfield case ended in absolutely total personal & financial grief for the Plaintiff in March 2013
– why Paul Robinson, Donald Robinson, and their lawyer, shamelessly cut and ran in utter panic, from their libel lawsuit v Ugo Matulic in April 2013
– why the Hearn & the McDermott cases will, both, end in total grief for the Plaintiffs, just as our blog had also correctly predicted in Hatfield v Child, months before Judge Martial published his findings
– how and why lawyers have helped promote the HOAX, so making hundreds of thousands of dollars from the scandal
– why lazy, gullible, mainstream media “journalists” have become witless “Honorary Conspiracy Theorists” in helping to promote the biggest HOAX in Canadian history
– why James Adams & the Globe, are pursuing their vengeful media vendetta, in the face of overwhelming evidence that what they publish is unsubstantiated drivel of the worst kind – just another reminder of why, in poll after poll, Canadians overwhelmingly confess they loathe mainstream media journalists even more than lawyers
– the deadly toll that the HOAX has claimed so far: Michael Moniz, Val Ross, and yes, Norval Morrisseau… the first CT Proxy ever victimized by the Conspiracy Theorists
Norval’s Belief: Norval died in 2007. For many years before that his mind was destroyed by Dementia so he had no clue of what was going on around him.
I am absolutely certain that Norval would be totally devastated if he knew that the “greedy white men” who made millions from his art, after his death, have vengefully denounced thousands of his original paintings as “forgeries,” and have attacked, and accused of being diabolical forgers, scores of people to whom Norval was eternally grateful for originally buying his art, helping to pay his bills, and helping him to become a successful and world-renowned artist.
Norval’s “Voice from the Grave” – I believe that Norval’s newly discovered “Confessional Diary” paintings, say exactly that, and serve as his voice from the grave, saying so…
SYNOPSIS: Terms of Reference:
Norval Morrisseau (1932-2007) was Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, an artistic genius on a par with Picasso, founding as he did, a spectacular and entirely original and unique international art form, his “Woodland” or “Anishinaabe” school of art.
Alas! – After a life of decades of unbridled excess with alcohol, including literally drinking whole cases of vanilla extract, after-shave, Listerine, perfumes, etc., as well as living for years as a Dope Fiend and Coke Head, by the mid 1990s Norval had the most destroyed body and mind of any leading Canadian figure in Canadian history.
Noval would soon be reduced almost entirely to a life as a drooling quadriplegic, permanently in a wheelchair, incapable of coherent communication, but still eminently useful as a human business promotion prop by the “greedy white men,” handlers, scrabbling for financial advantage around his wheelchair. Of necessity, Norval would start a new life as the “Hidden Indian” and the “Dumb Indian.”
(For the best unvarnished, “warts and all” account of Norval’s early years leading to this, see James R Stevens, “A Picasso in the North Country”)
The Physical, Mental, & Artistic Decline of Norval Morrisseau
A – PREAMBLE: SYNOPSIS: Terms of Reference
“1989 & All That”: From Morrisseau to Burrowsseau
B – INTRODUCTION TO ANNOTATED CHRONOLOGY
– Barry Ace – Norval the “Diva”: Showman not Shaman 1995
– the Greedy White Man vs Sharing
– “the White Man” Syndrome
– “the white man” as a Bastard
– the “Aboriginal Subsistence Culture” Way of Thinking: Sharing
– Norval’s Confessional Diary: Sinclair “The Theif in the Night”
– The Fabulous Confessional Diary Paintings
– Barry Ace Notes a Telling Clash of Cultures
– “Greedy White Man” Illustrated: Part 1
– “Greedy White Man” Illustrated: Part 2
– “Greedy White Man” Illustrated: Part 3
– “Greedy White Man” Illustrated: Part 4
– “Greedy White Man” Illustrated: Part 5
– “Greedy White Man” Illustrated: Part 6
– “Greedy White Man” Illustrated: Part 7
– Norval Rejects Being a “Greedy White Man”
– Aaron Milrad’s bogus claim that Norval is a “hurt, Sad Sack”
– Morrisseau Confesses to Wolf that Copies are Grrreat…!
– Norval NEVER Confesses Alleging Countless Forgeries
– 1 – Norval’s white handlers avoid judges & courts with a passion
– 2 – They manipulate hapless proxies to pay, and pay, and pay…
– 3 – They manipulate compliant and gullible proxies in the mainstream media
– 4 – Lawyers are having a field day
– 5 – Judges alone get it right, all the time
– Judge Martial definitively states both signature & painting genuine
The Ludicrous Hatfield Allegations
– Dementia – Alzheimer’s – Stroke
– The Scourge of Alcohol: Wolf Morrisseau’s tragic family history
– Wolf says Norval lost his memory by 2001
– Norval’s Alcohol Related Dementia
– Dope Fiend & Coke Head
Myths About the Drunken Indian
– Drinking: Norval laughs off his alcohol “problem”
– Pollock meets a Norval “disgusting – drunk… pissed his pants” 1962
– Village alcohol blow-out
– NFB Film & Norval’s non-stop “party time” 1973-4
– The carnage along the “alcohol trail”
– Booze & Paint Don’t Mix
– Norval to John Geddes – “I’d really get drunk”
– Lysol under lock & key
– Norval’s Strokes, Parkinson’s Dementia
–The Case of the Hidden Indian
– Revising History
– CBC Life & Times – Dead End
– Norval: the Virtual Quadriplegic
Losing it… The Mental, Physical, & Artistic Decline of Norval Morrisseau
1970s – Norval losing sexual ability, in only his 40s, in the 1970s
1987 – Norval’s “art not as good as it used to be…” Lloyd Comber
Norval’s “Wheelchair Invalid Period of Painting” Begins
1989 – Burrowsseau Period Begins (1989-2007)
1990 – Norval’s early need for “primary care-givers”
1990 – Norval gives Power of Attorney to Gabe Vadas
1993 – Norval’s Parkinson’s becomes obvious
1993 – Vadas claims McLeod violates Copyright – NOT “forgeries”
1994 – Norval has Stroke #1
– “Doctor” Robinson, “Master of the House of Invention
– The Case of the Self-loathing Engineer
1994 – Norval Confesses – “can’t recognize his own work at KRG”
1996 – Wheelchair Artist: reduced to a minor crippled “laptop” artist
1997 – Kleinburg Video: Norval shakes uncontrollably & mumbles
– Those mysterious blank backs of 1990s “Burrowsseau” paintings
1997 – Norval has Stroke #2
1997 – Sinclair says Norval mistakenly put 5 fakes into KRG’s “Travels”
1997 – Norval totally “mum” on existence of any fakes in KRG’s “Travels”
2001 – Norval literally “locked up” in terminal care facility
2001 – Norval’s imminent death expected by everyone
2001 – May – Norval’s “Weird KRG Appraisal” for Jim White
– Judge Martial’s reminds Robinson of his awful conflict of interest (2013)
2001 – May – Don Robinson first goes public with forgery allegations
2001 – May – Norval “skips out” on Murray Whyte
2001 – Dec – Norval can’t talk intelligibly to Dolly McGuire
2001 – Dec – Norval confesses to Wolf Morrisseau “my mind is gone”
2002 – Apr – Norval’s vegetative state in the devastating LeBlanc Video
2002 – Apr – Norval “can’t communicate intelligibly”
2003 – Jun – Norval’s Power of Attorney in overdrive by Vadas
2003 – Norval can’t utter a single word for the CBC’s “Life & Times”
2004 – Norval’s “body” displayed at KRG – the devastating CBC zoom
2005 – May – Norval can’t recognize dear old drinking buddy Gary Lamont
2005 – Mar – Norval can’t remember a huge 1988 “21 painting deal”
2005 – Mar – Gabe Vadas; selective memory of an “art terrorist” 1988-2005
2005 – Norval totally “mum” on existence of any fakes in “Return” to the House…”
– Norval’s “Sinclair fakes” removed by Robinson in “Return to the House…”
– Most disreputable documents in Canadian history
– Tom Hagan had a choice – the Cross Sommer Cross
– 2006 Norval can’t recognize his own son Christian
– Affidavits damaged Norval’s art, heritage, & valuations of First Nations artists everywhere
– Norval AKA “Lazarus” AKA “the internet surfer” picks hundreds of “forgeries” 2005
– “White man’s paper’s no fucking good.”
– Norval AKA “Lazarus’” Affidavits target genuine works NOT fakes
– Norval AKA “Lazarus’” Affidavits target ONLY reputable businesses NOT collectors
– Why Gary Lamont Affidavit never served for years, while Norval alive
– Judge Martial discounts discredited Affidavits, affirming “Wheel” is genuine 2013
2005 – Norval AKA “Lazarus” supposedly founds the NMHS
– Norval calls “Bryant (Ross) the Snake”
2006 – Norval’s “old drinking buddy” (Marlow Goring) shocker
2006 – Norval “No Show” in Otavnik v Vadas (for Morrisseau)
2006 – Donald “No Show” Robinson at Norval’s National Gallery of Canada Retrospective
2007 – Norval “No Show” in Moniz v CTVGlobemedia
2007 – Donald “No Call” Robinson at Norval’s Death
– “Let’s burn the body, quick”
– Norval denounces “greedy white men” from the grave with his Confessional Paintings
2011 – RCMP fail to identify or charge a single Morrisseau forger or forgery
– the Cops, the Courts, the Scientists are Unanimous – not even 1 (one) fake
– Norval & the cash economy
2013 – Judge Martial blasts the Conspiracy Theory out of the water
– the Preposterous Mr. Robinson; from 2001-2013
A – PREAMBLE TO ANNOTATED CHRONOLOGY
– 1989 – Aldergrove “Summit” of the Morrisseau “Art Cartel”
– 1989 – Karl Burrows says he becomes “cartel’s” “fill-in” painter to the rescue
– 1989 – Donald Robinson says he becomes “cartel’s” Principal Morrisseau Dealer
– 1989 – Bryant Ross says he becomes Norval’s Business Manager
– 1990 – Gabe Vadas takes over Norval’s Power of Attorney
– 1990 – 2001 – “Mass Forgery Group Free” Period
– 2001 – Norval locked up, out of the way, in Terminal Care
– 2001 – Telling Parallel Event: First Ever “Mass Forgery Group” Alleged May 18
“1989 & All That”: From Morrisseau to Burrowsseau – As an artist, Norval’s life can be divided into two distinct periods: before and after 1989, which for a lot of reasons was a totally defining year for Morrisseau, his art, and so for Morrisseau collectors around the world.
– the Morrisseau period (1960 – 1989) when Norval reached his peak and fame as a solo artist and did whatever the hell he pleased with sex, booze, and drugs, oh, and artistic expression, ending in a slump by the end of the 80s.
– the Burrowsseau period (1989 – 2007) AKA Norval’s “wheelchair invalid period of painting” when Norval’s life of excess finally took its deadly toll, with his body, mind, and artistic abilities going into a noticeably steep decline, and he came under the total control of a group of white business managers AKA “the Conspiracy Theorists,” AKA “the Morrisseau art cartel,” who, acting in concert with Morrisseau’s longtime companion, Gabe Vadas, who wielded Norval’s Power of Attorney, for the next 17 years, till he died, completely directed and dictated Norval’s personal, artistic, business, financial, and media affairs.
One of the white men working for the Morrisseau art cartel, Karl Burrows, a very talented artist, was hired by the group in 1989 to “fill-in” paint for an increasingly shaky and trembling Morrisseau.
(Hence I call all subsequent paintings “Burrowsseaus,” believing that the evidence is strong, after that date, of the possibility that “Norval’s children,” to borrow Ms. Hatfield’s characterization, may very well have had “dual paternity.”)
“To Whom It May Concern, I Karl J Burrows, worked for Norval Morrisseau from 1989 until his death, my duties included sales, promotion, printing and painting… signed and dated in L.A. Ca, U.S.A, 5th Aug,. 09” (Statement provided by Karl Burrows 2009)
Burrows states he worked as an artist for Norval and the cartel from 1989 till 2007, when Norval died. He further stated he painted numerous complete canvases in that time and he also signed them with Norval’s Cree syllabic signature on the front, and also “backdated” many. This, of course, was to help get around the suspicions of people who might begin to wonder how the virtual quadriplegic they had glimpses of in the media, could possible paint so many large canvases, oh, and with such a steady hand.)
So, from 1989 on you are free to speculate on the intriguing question for all the new paintings to come***: how much did Burrows paint? How much did Morrisseau paint? Hence all paintings from then on must be clearly called “Burrowsseaus” to reflect the painting partnership that created them, in whole or in part.
(***These paintings, were almost all sold by Donald Robinson of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries – he testified in court he sold some 1,000 of this kind of painting, though he has never mentioned the “help” provided by Burrows, the artist’s longtime “assistant.” In fact Robinson probably denies that there is any truth to Burrows’ statement.
More Burrowsseaus (states Burrows) were sold through Bryant Ross, one of the founding Conspiracy Theorists, who became Norval’s business manager the same year Burrows was hired. Ross had a Morrisseau art gallery in Aldergrove, BC, where the celebrated 1989 meeting took place of the Conspiracy Theorist cartel, whose members would become the founders and promoters of the “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” in 2001. (Charter members of the cartel who were at Aldergrove in 1989 were Morrisseau, Gabe Vadas, Donald Robinson, Bryant Ross. Karl Burrows may have been present).
Note: The “wheelchair,” to which Norval was totally confined in 1996, is used as the outward symbol, only, to underline the extremity of Norval’s physical and mental collapse. In fact the wheelchair symbolizes NOT the beginning of Norval’s decline but the end, when the many physical maladies that had started attacking his body and mind in the 1970s, and accelerating through the 80s, finally collapsed him, as a total wreck of an invalid into a virtual quadriplegic, totally dependent on others for every part of his personal, private, and public life as a person and an artist.
– Norval’s Terminal Care period (2001 – 2007) AKA “the Conspiracy Theorist period of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers,” which began when Norval was finally locked up in a terminal care facility, an event that totally coincided with the publication, by his white business managers, of the first ever media allegations of a supposedly vast forgery factory grinding out thousands of fakes.
The five day Hatfield v Child trial (2010-2013) exposed the damning evidence – big-time – that at the very time (2005) that Conspiracy Theorists claimed Norval Morrisseau was mentally alert, was apparently vigorously surfing the internet for so-called “fakes,” and supposedly frantically issuing his multiple Affidavits of Forgery, for hundreds of paintings – including one for “Wheel of Life 1979” – he was, instead, actually in the advanced stages of Dementia, couldn’t say a decipherable word, was far past communicating anything on any level to anyone, and couldn’t even recognize his own son during a visit to a terminal care facility, where Norval had been housed “incommunicado” by his so-called “primary care-takers” for years…
In fact the damning evidence trail of Norval’s disabling Parkinson’s, and advancing Dementia (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, related Dementia and Alcohol Dementia all overlap) has left numerous telltale highlights going back at least to 1990, when, even as early as then, Donald Robinson – the self-styled “Principal Morrisseau Dealer” himself, notes with telling clarity in his 2005 updated Chronology for his “Return to the House of Invention,” that:
“1990 – (Norval) Moves to White Rock, British Columbia, with Gabe, his wife, Michele, and family. Gabe and Michele act as primary caregivers and business managers.” (ed: my emphasis) (“Return to the House of Invention,” Robinson & Morrisseau (KRG) 2005, p 156.)
Wait a minute…!Which brings up an interesting question: Why would Morrisseau, who has decades of “hands-on” management and sales experience, all built on a career as Canada’s top Aboriginal painter for over thirty years, and is probably Canada’s most prolific painter of all time, possibly need to engage Gabe Vadas, an ignorant down-and-out street kid he picked up on the lowlife streets of Vancouver, and a high school dropout from a remote BC logging town, with no education, business, or art accomplishments or related skills, of any kind, to manage Norval’s Canadian and international art and business affairs, in 1990?
“Fill-in” Artist & Primary Caregiver to the Rescue: And if Norval was of sound mind and body, why would he possibly need to hire a “fill-in” painter like Burrows, as early as 1989?
Does Bob Bateman hire an apprentice to fill in the animals or birds on his canvases? Or is it to paint the backgrounds, while Bob does the animals?
Furthermore, why does Norval, who was not in a wheelchair at all in 1990 (not permanently till 1996), possibly need Gabe and Michele, as Robinson claims, to act as “primary caregivers”?
The answer can only be that Norval, though physically still mostly, more or less, self-reliant, is increasingly mentally just too far gone, distracted, disconnected, or vacant, much of the time, as the years go on, to look after his personal health, manage his private affairs, and professional responsibilities.
Would Norval’s deteriorating condition affect his painting ability? Is that why Burrows was brought aboard in 1989? To paint the “steady stuff” that Norval’s notoriously shaky hands could no longer produce?
(Now do you see why there is no video record at all produced by his caregivers and business promoters showing the artist vigorously painting away during this entire time which Donald Robinson claims was one of Norval’s best and most prolific periods as a painter?” It is, of course, the period in which Donald Robinson had hundreds of his “recently produced” paintings for sale…)
In fact Norval’s advancing Dementia was bad enough – according to Robinson’s written testament – that the distracted artist needed a “primary care-giver” at least as early as 1990… And it is documented, a “fill-in” painter from 1989 on…
No other explanation is possible.
In fact, in a completely damning parallel development, as Norval’s physical and mental condition continued to deteriorate drastically, the white businessmen around him convinced Norval that it would be advantageous for him to sign over his Power of Attorney to Gabe Vadas. (Source: Defence in Otavnik v Vadas & Morrisseau.)
Gabe Vadas Takes Over the Manipulation of Norval’s Power of Attorney – Vadas, on Apr. 24, 1990, took over Norval’s Power of Attorney, and vigorously exercised it, from then on. He would not allow Norval to talk with anyone, if he could help it, without him being present and so controlled the information that the Conspiracy Theorists wanted to establish as “fact.”
UTTERLY COMPROMISING: We publish here for the very first time an extraordinary fact that is utterly compromising about the Hoax.
This is the fact that Gabe Vadas was exercising Norval’s Power of Attorney from April 1990 on, a fact that was previously totally hidden from public view.
For 23 years the public was misled into believing that it was Norval who was behind all the legal machinations, launched by the Conspiracy Theorists, when in fact it had been Vadas, and the “greedy white men” around Norval’s wheelchair, on their own, who had been exclusively and aggressively using the Power of Attorney from long before the Hoax and the scandal over so-called “fakes” even started.
This astonishing revelation, that it was NOT Norval but Vadas who was behind the many nefarious legal manipulations all along, only came to light because it was buried by Vadas – by accident – in Vadas’ Defence that he filed in Otavnik v Vadas in 2007, when he inadvertently let the cat out of the bag in trying to advance credibility in an unrelated matter. (See Defendan’t Claim: Otavnik v Vadas***)
(***Otavnik would go on to win that suit, against Vadas (and Morrisseau) with Gabe opting to pay him $11,000 rather than risk producing Norval and his (non-existent) proof of forgeries in court.)
Remember too, that lawyer’s letters and Defence Claims rarely ever are produced or exposed in public. So Vadas no doubt figured making the disclosure there would keep the secret hidden.
And so it did… until 2013, when we announced the disclosure and put it into its damning historical context – namely, that from 1990 on, Norval was totally out of the loop… After that date, the Conspiracy Theorists no longer had need for Norval… In fact when Dementia laid him low he was a liability for them… and could only hurt sales. So they kept him “Hidden.”
NB – So from 1990 onwards ALL of Norval’s artistic sales output, his business dealings, his legal affairs and initiatives, his publicity, and his finances, were all totally in the hands of, and under the absolute control, of a very small and in-grown group of white men clustering around a famous artist in the declining twilight of a once great career.
By law from then on, and in practice, Norval wasn’t necessary or involved with any of this. He could only cause problems in numerous ways to the business machinations of his white handlers.
They do virtually ALL the talking for Norval from the mid-90s on. Never again will Norval have a one-on-one with any journalist. Norval will either be unavailable to outside media (Murray Whyte in May 2001) or heavily chaperoned (John Geddes 2003).
It is why, tellingly, Norval quickly evolves into the “Hidden Indian” and finally into the “Dumb Indian.” Which is why during this crucial period, from the early 1990s on, there is no video tape, no audio tape, no TV interview that shows Norval – Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, for goodness’ sake – talking on any subject, or even at work painting one of his masterpieces…
That too is directly because of the actions of his white business handlers.
Donald Robinson fulminates that this period (which we choose to call “Norval’s wheelchair invalid period of painting”) was, not only one of the best periods of Norval’s entire career, but also one of his most prolific.
Then why did he never make a film or TV special of his artist at work and feature him talking about his rebirth and newfound passion as an artist. All Norval Morrisseau enthusiasts would have loved to hear Norval waxing passionate about how, far from being debilitating burdens, his wheelchair, strokes, Dementia, Alcohol Dementia, and Parkinson’s, were actually liberating experiences for him as an artist…
In fact when the CBC filmed its one hour “Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau” special in 2003, the producer failed utterly, to get Norval to say even one intelligible word for his television cameras. Gabe, the “greedy white guy” who had held Norval’s Power of Attorney in his pocket for 13 years – you guessed it – did all the talking for Norval…
(Note 1: All “live” voice of Norval’s they used for the CBC special was from TV interviews taped years before in the 1970s and “voiced over” images of him being silently and completely passively carted around like a sack of potatoes in his declining years.)
(Note 2: Norval’s condition was so bad, and no video tape at all was available that didn’t show him as a train wreck of a body, that the producers decided to hire an actor to do stand-ins for Norval in what was supposed to be a documentary of the real man, not some phony role-playing actor.)
Specifically there is not, and has never been, any video tape or audio tape produced by anyone in which Norval claims that there are any forgeries out there – at all! – let alone thousands, or that, even if there were, that he gave a damn. (In fact, in support of the polar opposite, his brother Wolf testified in court, that copying was to Norval what he was all about; he wanted, by any means possible, for his art to be used to get the message out to the world that his people existed, that they mattered, and that their culture was world class.)
So all the talk of forgeries and all the legal machinations that were launched in accompaniment, have come entirely from the group of a few white businessmen aggressively excercising Norval’s power of attorney since 1990.
Their motive: greed – enhance the value of their art assets and devalue everyone else’s.
Norval Locked Up, Out of the Way, in Terminal Care 2001 – In fact, Norval’s physical and mental condition continued to deteriorate so rapidly that in early 2001, his “primary care-givers,” Gabe and Michele Vadas, too, would finally give up on him and place Norval, incommunicado, into a terminal care facility. At that time, Gabe had been wielding Norval’s Power of Attorney for 11 years.
Norval was allowed no visitors unless they were first cleared through Gabe Vadas. When Norval’s son Christian, who hadn’t seen his father in years, arrived in Nanaimo to try to see him, he was first refused, then had to haggle through hours of negotiating and waiting before he was allowed to see his father.
Telling Parallel Development: Forgery Syndicate Alleged May 2001 – This was the very same year that Norval’s white business partners suddenly announced to the world – for the very first time, in May 2001 – that there are supposedly “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers out there.” (This was the infamous publication by Murray Whyte who published his wild article in the National Post without doing the requisite “due diligence” one expects from serious journalists. And thereby launched into the public arena the biggest Hoax in Canadian history.)
And guess who allegedly told them about the so-called “fakes?” Why, Norval whom they had just consigned to a terminal care facility… And conveniently, as Whyte noted cryptically, in his article: “Mr. Morrisseau could not be reached for comment.” (National Post, Whyte, May 18, 2001).
Raising the obvious question: if Norval has deteriorated mentally and physically to the point that his “caregivers” now totally give up on him, and put him into a terminal care institution, how can he possibly have been the legitimate source for the sudden discovery, that very same year, of thousands of supposed fakes of his art on the internet, at art auctions, and art galleries across Canada…?
We are led to believe, by Norval’s white business managers, that Norval was keeping busy in the terminal care facility, surfing the internet on his computer, and discovering thousands of so-called forgeries which he then alerted them to.
The answer: by the damning actions of his own “care-givers,” it is clear Norval was too mentally and physically incompetent to have been involved – hell, not even marginally – in the discovery and promotion of the Conspiracy Theory of so-called “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.”
Which is the core of the allegations of the white men surrounding Norval’s wheelchair, during his declining years, and is the heart of their Conspiracy Theory claims.
The information collated for the first time in my article makes absolutely clear that for a long time previously, Norval and his signature were only of use for one thing: to be used as a rubber stamp to “authorize” the various business activities that his white business managers were carrying out using his name. His identity, his brand, was clearly being used effectively as a cash cow to promote sales of their own product and denounce that of their business competitors.
Major signposts on Norval’s descent into a private mental and physical hell are chronologically assembled here for the first time.
In short, the damning collation of corroborating evidence, illustrate, big time, that Norval’s physical decline and mental deterioration started many years before his white business associates claim they did, were far more severe, advanced, and devastating in their effect than they allowed in public, and that Norval’s memory and abilities as an artist were much more damaged and failing, for many more years before his self-promoting business partners said they were a factor.
In short, Norval’s white business partners said he continued to be a prolific painter till 2002, while everyone else declared that Norval was deteriorating rapidly after c 1987, and that paintings you buy after that period are highly suspect and of marginal quality.
A typical cautionary for prospective Morrisseau art buyers is the comment by Gail Fikis:
“I have always told people, if you have work from the 60s, you’re laughing to the bank, the 70s, OK, but into the late 80s, questions, 90s and on, anything goes…”
– Gail Fikis, Registrar, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, 1983-2007
And the reason for that is that Norval’s physical, mental, and artistic decline, already ramping up in the 1980s, accelerated rapidly and drastically during the early 1990s, the result of decades of extreme alcohol and substance abuse.
B – INTRODUCTION TO ANNOTATED CHRONOLOGY:
Losing it… The Mental, Physical, & Artistic Decline of Norval Morrisseau
Barry Ace: Presenting the “Contemporary Primitive” – In order to understand Norval Morrisseau, and the background to this entire article, you have to read Barry Ace, a Canadian academic and artist, of Odawa First Nations background, who, as Chief Curator of the Indian Art Centre at DIAND (Dept. of Indian Affairs and Northern Development) met Norval – accompanied by Vadas – in 1995, in Ottawa.
Ace notes that Norval Morrisseau was a total construct as a “contemporary primitive” by his handlers and that:
“Morrisseau and those around him, were actively engaged in the mythic construction and public re/presentation of Morrisseau as a contemporary primitive” and that what they did “involved in re-inventing, controlling and sheltering Morrisseau’s public and private spaces from the outside world (which) became a hugely convoluted and contradictory task for all involved including Morrisseau himself. The personal impact of this monstrosity of an illusion was so enormous, that few were immune from its negative impacts, and perhaps most tragically of all, was the toll it took on the physical and emotional state of Norval Morrisseau.” (Barry Ace, ACC/CCA Aboriginal Curatorial Collective online) (GO TO: Read the whole article)
Even then Norval was accompanied – joined at-the-hip – by Gabor Vadas, who had been his “primary care-giver,” according to Donald Robinson, for some five years already. No one – and certainly no journalist or media interviewer of any kind – would ever have a one-on-one meeting or interview with Norval without Gabe being there to “interpret,” “translate,” or speak for Norval during the entire period from c1990 to 2007.
This is the period we call Norval’s “wheelchair invalid period” of painting.
Norval “the Diva” 1995 – Ace has given us the single most important portrait of Norval Morrisseau the Diva, when he was on his legs for the last time, just as he is slipping into his “wheelchair invalid period” of painting.
Remember, this was six years before Donald Robinson first publicly charged there were “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” out there. There was, at that time, not even a single whisper of forgery whatsoever. Anywhere…!
Norval the Showman not the Shaman – Ace gives us a doubly valuable insight into Norval Morrisseau, first, as what I call the “Diva,” a characterization which echoes something James Stevens noted in his biography: that Norval was the grand-standing showman who preened himself as a figure deserving public adulation long before he even became an artist. As a teen Norval fancied himself a fabulous singer performing in front of adoring crowds of thousands.
Ace also gives us a devastatingly graphic example – in my view the definitive portrait – of how totally different were Norval’s own Aboriginal values regarding his art, from those of the utterly greedy, self-serving, and acquisitive white men who scrabbled for a place around his wheelchair in his declining years.
Ace describes Norval, dressed in Indian ceremonial clothing, walking into the giant foyer of an Ottawa government building, bristling with scurrying civil servants rushing about. Norval stopped everyone in their tracks, by loudly banging his ceremonial stick on the marble floor.
Once again, it was classic Norval the Showman.
As scores of people turned to look at him, Norval’s grand entrance as a Showman\Shaman clearly made his day as a Diva or over-the-top showman.
From his earliest years as a teen, Norval always wanted recognition; he wanted fame; he wanted to amount to something; he wanted, like Marlon Brando, in “On the Waterfront,” to “be a somebody.”
That’s a giant “footprint” – not a giant bank account.
The Greedy White Man vs Sharing – A bank account was a white man thing, a selfish thing, an acquisitive thing. Storing up wealth, by hook or by crook, for a rainy day, or just to get it away from someone else.
It was all associated with a mindset dismissed with disgust in Canadian Aboriginal communities across Canada, as “a greedy white man” thing. Norval spoke of it often:
“Well, see, the white man is always after material gain. To me money is of no importance. I don’t want it. All I want is to live my way. To drink, to die or to starve – that’s all I want.) (Stevens, Picasso, p64)
I overheard and witnessed the “greedy white man” insult, at public meetings, and in private parties, constantly while living for years in remote Canadian Aboriginal villages. Which was hugely different, indeed foreign, from the Aboriginal concept of “sharing.” More than once I, as the school principal, was, only semi-jokingly, dismissed as a “greedy white man,” the ultimate insult in a remote First Nations subsistence community.
The Camp Stove – After spending weeks finding a suitable ten gallon steel gasoline drum to make into a wood-burning camp stove I finally cajoled and bartered to get the local government welder to cut it to my specifications and weld on a hinged metal top, I was proud as hell because it would make winter camping in canvas tents at 30 and 40 below much more comfortable. It also ended up being the best camping stove anyone had in town.
I had it all completed just in time to go on a long weekend hunt with a group of Dene friends/hunters. Apparently word about my great stove got out fast…
As I was packing up in the yard, John Tassie who was in his eighties then, came shuffling up. I thought he just came by to watch me and josh around. Which we did for awhile. But John had other things on his mind.
“I’m going camping but got no stove. Let me have yours. I need it.”
I laughed broadly and said “Holy Cow John, I just got this finished today so I could go hunting with Georgie, Tommy, and Moise. I need it myself…”
John couldn’t see any of that as relevant, as I jovially insisted on standing my ground.
In anguish at my obstreperousness he wailed, “But I need it more than you…” Nearly 40 years later, I can still hear his high-pitched plaint in my bank of memories.
Seeing I wouldn’t budge, John hurled the ultimate insult my way.
“You’re just a greedy white man,” then abruptly turned and walked away.
And of course he was completely right…
I was a victim of my own culture exactly the way Tassie and Norval were of theirs. I was acquisitive; Tassie and Norval were into sharing. Because of our different cultural backgrounds it could not be any other way.
And the same huge cultural gulf – between “sharing” and being just downright “greedy for money” was also between Norval and all the white businessmen who scrabbled for advantage around his wheelchair.
So being rich and flaunting it – the Lexus complex – was a “greedy white man” thing; a Jack Pollock thing; a Donald Robinson thing; a Bryant Ross thing; a Michele Vadas thing; a Karl Burrows thing; an Aaron Milrad “lawyer” thing; a Gabe Vadas thing…
And not at all, a Norval Morrisseau thing… ever.
The “White Man” Syndrome – I make no apologies for using what some people might object to as irrelevant or distracting racial or tribal stereotyping. They are arguing from knee-jerk stereotyping of their own, but totally in ignorance.
In fact I use the term “white man” deliberately because it is the only way to represent an actual factual historic social reality, which I – as a white man – personally experienced while living for eight fascinating years as one of only a tiny handful of “whites” totally swamped in the midst of overwhelmingly non-white Aboriginal populations in isolated villages in Africa for two years, and in remote arctic and sub-arctic Canadian Inuit and Dene communities for four more.
Though I was an idealistic young man, working, with my wife, for cheap local wages – though we were both fully credentialed high school teachers – as CUSO volunteers in the 1960s in Uganda, near Idi Amin’s home town near the Sudan border, I couldn’t escape my “white man” past and associations.
One day, sitting at the wheel of our old Fiat, while my wife was purchasing “dead cow” meat in the local market, a Black man in rags – hell everybody was Black except me – leaned towards me and only inches from my face, solemnly intoned, “Comes the revolution, I’m going to slit your throat.” I still had the smile on my face from when I saw him approach me. (This was five years after Uganda gained its independence; we were working for it.)
Now why would a Black man whom I had never met, tell me that, when I had come thousands of miles to this remote backwater to teach his kids, for peanuts, so they had a better future of their own? When all my friends and family had urged me not to go, but do what all my numerous other university colleagues were doing, immediately get a high paying job and get a career going. You know “the greedy white man” thing…
“White individuals,” no matter how well meaning, no matter how idealistic, no matter how non-tribal, no matter how “innocent” of wrong-doing of any kind they are, can never escape the association of their white skin to the totally dominant white society that devastated Africa with the slave trade, the colonial imperialist exploitation of local non-white Aboriginal populations in Africa, Asia, and America in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the “white” American, Canadian, Anglo, and French orchestrated anti-Muslim wars of the 21st century.
When I later taught in remote Canadian Aboriginal villages, I was reminded of the same historical association of my skin with the dominant white society which had exploited Indians with bogus treaties as a result of which thousands of them starved to death in western Canada, and the modern day predations and racist dismissal of Indian rights and concerns by the highest politicians in the land in Ottawa.
During drinking parties in Inuit and Dene villages, and camps, when tongues were loosened by too much booze I was often berated for the terrible predations visited on them by racist politicians in Ottawa and racist behaviour of the local police. The terms “white men” was routinely on every tongue, all the time, both in all seriousness, and in jest.
When I once expressed my dismay at the attacks to a close friend, a female Aboriginal and the town manager, she smiled at me.
“Well John, you make yourself so available.”
I knew exactly what she meant. While most white people in all Aboriginal villages I have lived in, in Africa and Canada, segregated themselves away from all but the most minimal necessary contact with non-whites, my wife and I always mixed socially with the dominant non-white populations.
We saw it as our duty as educators of their children. Many teachers did not share our views. In the summer holidays, unlike other teachers, who typically left for two months to go “down south,” we always spent our summers in the remote villages where we taught, sharing life on the land with the parents of kids we taught.
So, in summer camps and private house parties we became the sounding board for historically exploited and oppressed peoples who had no other outlet for their rage for what the dominant white society and its agents were doing to them, their kids, their rights, their culture, and their land.
Knowing the historic roots of it all, I just let it slide off and continued my association with the causes related to promoting fair play for Aboriginal rights. In our educational media work we travelled to dozens of Aboriginal villages all over Canada, where the talk was always about “white man” this, and “white man” that.
It’s a historic and on-going reality for them; it’s a reality for me.
In spite of the uncomfortable and undeserved obstacles thrown in our way we continued to promote Aboriginal causes.
Our investigation and intercession in 1995, at Ipperwash, where a racist police attack killed Dudley George, caused Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), to restart an investigation they had closed without charging anyone with anything. (And the top award given by the world’s biggest film and television festival, for “Investigative Journalism.”)
We gave the SIU evidence which changed its mind, acted as liaison with the local Aboriginal leaders, and arranged for SIU investigators to enter behind the barricades of the Indian camp, for the first time. As a result, this time the SIU charged an OPP officer with unlawfully killing an Indian and wounding several children. Without our research and direct intercession this, and the later public inquiry, would never have come about.
The White Man as a Bastard – The Ipperwash fiasco exposed the reality of the “white man” as a “bastard” that Indian populations across Canada have faced for centuries:
– racist “white” police, at midnight, repeatedly and deliberately, with malice aforethought, ramming numerous cruisers into picnic tables full of Indian babies, children, women, and men
– racist “white” police, at midnight, shooting with a fusillade of automatic weapons fire at Indian babies, children, women, and men, involved in a peaceful protest after the park they were in was closed for the season, killing one man, and wounding two boys
– racist “white” SIU, which had previously “investigated” the shooting of Dudley George, and found everything properly done, and in order, and closed the file without charges
– racist “white” mainstream media which, uniformly, without a single exception, publicized absolutely total lies, and promoted the falsehood that innocent “white” police were victims of malicious and deliberate Indian gunfire.
It is in fact the worst example of journalistic incompetence and racist mainstream media bigotry in Canadian history. It’s a total parallel, to what the NAZI papers, like Julius Streicher’s viscously anti-Semitic “Der Stürmer” were doing when it vilified Jews in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.
There is a difference. There were other decent papers in Germany, in the 1930s, who did not preach the racist “company” line. This was not the case in Ontario in 1995, when ALL the major mainstream media and local press vilified the Indians as gun-happy thugs and supported the police as innocent victims, when in fact, as evidence we uncovered prove that they were the viciously racist perpetrators, and using the media to spin the deceit.
Peter-Come-Lately– Only some seven months after the event, and some five months after we raised the alarm and strong objections with the SIU, on Dec. 8, 1995, did the Toronto Star abandon its strong pro-police, anti-Indian line, and finally come aboard on the side of truth, when it published the first post-shooting articles by Peter Edwards. Far from being first with the truth, they were among the last to abandon the police line they had been preaching…
As Peter told my wife personally, when she upbraided him for his (and the other mainstream media journalists) for their shameful behaviour, he retorted, “Well we rely on the police for our sources.” Clearly sole-source journalism means you don’t bite the hand that feeds you…
As Dudley’s sister Cully told my wife and me, years later, in 2004: “Thank you so much for believing in us when no one else would listen.”
– racist “white” society at large, which, thanks to police and media propaganda believed “the goddam Indians got exactly what they deserved. They should’ve shot a few more.” Which is exactly, in fact, what some of our university-educated colleagues snarkily told us.
Go ahead, tell me Canada’s Aboriginal peoples are not justified in complaining about being victimized and unjustly persecuted by “white men,” and doing so with a bitter edge…
And Norval Morrisseau was no exception:
“…N was pretty drunk… N sobered up, but he had his own cache (of booze) and that night he got obnoxious with a hate on for white people that should be tortured.” (Stevens, Picasso, p121)
Norval had learned about the many historical white man rip offs from his Ojibway grandfather.
Norval vowed he would not play by white society rules and end up as just another Indian victim of its standards, customs, procedures, and predations. As he viscerally spat out at Jack Pollock, when Jack offered Norval a receipt for taking possession of some of his paintings: “White man’s paper’s no fucking good.” (Pollock, Dear M, p39)
How telling is the fact, thanks to his completely incapacitating Dementia, that Norval, in the end, was to become one of the most tragic victims in Canadian history, of “greedy white men” and their diabolical machinations and self-serving manipulations?
The Aboriginal Subsistence Way of Thinking: Sharing – And that’s a gigantic personal and cultural difference that totally separated Norval from the “greedy white men” who had control of his Power of Attorney and his art selling business since 1990.
Norval never, ever, set out to be rich, or wanted to be rich. It was not an “Indian” thing or a “Norval” thing.
Money in much of Canada’s Aboriginal cultures – and certainly to Norval – was regarded as a consumable; get it and spend it. And share it. (See Red Lake Party 1962)
This is of course, the classic subsistence economy kind of thinking which overwhelmingly motivated most of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples at the time, and persists hugely in most isolated native communities, towns, and villages to this day.
The Case of the Missing Tapes – When I was school principal, in the mid-1970s, in a tiny, ultra-remote Dene village in Canada’s sub-arctic north, one of my Aboriginal Teaching Assistants – and a close friend – complained she had no audio tapes. They were all taken by others and the local store had nothing to replace them with. So when my wife and I returned to Toronto for Christmas we bought a large box full of eight track tapes, hi-tech at the time. She was utterly blown away by the Christmas present of some 60 tapes.
Two days later when I visited her house I asked her how she and the kids liked the music, though there was none playing. No tape was in sight.
“Nothing!” she complained in anguish, “all gone. Those people, they took it,” she said accusingly, as she reeled off the names of all her friends, relatives, and neighbours.
She was back to nothing. Which is where I had come in…
I know that her sense of moral outrage was feigned for my sake, you know the “greedy white man” guy. Because she knew Europeans like me don’t sell or give away Christmas gifts they receive in their culture. And because I think, in her heart, she was pleased to share her Christmas present with others less fortunate in the community, most of whom had no jobs or tapes either…
I would swear that by the end of the week one of my tapes was in every single house in the Dene village of some 300 people, on the shores of Great Slave Lake.
Norval would totally have understood. Hell, it was what he did all his life with his bounty whenever he had it – be it booze, cash, or paintings. Easy come; easy go.
It is one telling reason Aboriginals living in remote villages where old traditions dominate, remain Canada’s poorest citizens, by far. As soon as someone gets a financial success, it is dissipated among well-wishers in the community. No one can build up capital for investment and job growth when everything is consumed or shared just as soon as it becomes available.
The biggest and longest-lasting parties in town typically follow for a day or two after a batch of government cheques arrive.
And this pattern followed Norval during his whole life, spending lavishly to throw huge wild parties for all his friends and anyone on the street passing by, where the booze flowed endlessly, and wads of cash lay on furniture tops. By the morning the only thing left was hangovers. Often, everything that wasn’t nailed down: Norval’s paintings, belongings, and furniture even, were stripped from him and went out the door with departing revelers, as Norval was passed out. But to Norval “easy-come-easy-go” Morrisseau, he just shrugged and laughed.
Tellingly, after one Morrisseau party blow out, it was not Norval, but a concerned white friend, Will Hedican – reacting to his own set of cultural values – who seeing Norval’s stuff all gone, set out to track it all down and return it to him.
– “Then N started drinking. I turned up at the house one day. There wasn’t a stick of furniture in the place. Not a stick of furniture. The TV was gone… A couple of days later he shows up sober… He kind of growled and said,’ I lost all my paintings and all my carvings.’ And he had a fair collection of them.”Okay,’ I said, ‘it can’t be too hard to find out who ripped them off.” So I went to Simpson Street and put the word out. Norval wants his shit back. I got everything back, the paintings and carvings. We just forgot about the furniture and the TV. It was just a bunch of guys who had been invited to party there and walked out with the house contents.” (Stevens, Picasso, p172)
What white man under those circumstances would just “kind of growl” when his house is cleaned out? Still, though, it was a white guy fuelled by his own acquisitive outrage, not Norval, who was the agent who got it back. Though Norval was no doubt equally pleased to have it back, well for a short time anyway… till the next party…
But Norval held strongly to a vital cultural distinction: when an Aboriginal does it, he regarded it as sharing because his need is probably greater than Norval’s; when a “greedy white man” does it’s cold, calculating, lowlife theft. And he was right.
Norval’s Diary Denounces “Ritchie the Theif” – One of Norval’s fabulous “Confessional Diary” paintings (my connotation***), painted perhaps after one such disastrous party “blow-out,” chose to memorialize one of his few young white apprentices, Ritchie Sinclair with a telling painting.
In fact Norval painted and signed seven (7) portraits that have been located to date, of Sinclair, the most by far of any of the white men Norval had relations with.
On the back, in Norval’s hand, are his scathing comments, for the Ages, on “Ritchie’s” ethical and moral lapses.
(*** I call them Norval’s “Confessional Diary” paintings because as a group (there are dozens) they only recently came to light (in 2010) in a private collection, and are often, Norval’s scathing private opinions about the ethical and sexual misdeeds of the “greedy white men” he was to surround himself with in the last 18 years of his life.)
Jack Pollock, who was no slouch himself, in personal sexual extremism, was still in awe of Norval’s completely over-the-top sexual self-indulgence when he hit Toronto for the first time.
“He demanded I get him a woman, and when I said I couldn’t, demanded that I get him a man! Then he got up and left, and ran out into the street. We had the interview the next morning with Helen Hutchinson, and I had no idea where he’d gone or what I should do.
At nine-thirty the next morning, he came back. 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, Letters…” p41)
“… he abandoned his wife and children (they lived on treaty money and welfare in Sandy Lake) 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, Letters…” p 26)
To his credit, Norval did not spare himself or his family members with scathing characterizations in his “Confessional Diary” art. Most of these paintings – the paintings are fabulous on the front – have so far, never been published.) (This is the first time “My Mother Molesting Me” has ever been published.)
Norval entitled another one such “Confessional Diary” painting “RITCHIE THE THEIF (sic) IN THE NIGHT 1988,” a reference to one of the many young men and boys (Norval claims he had over 150 in all) whom he customarily “hired on,” for short periods, as “apprentices,” “companions,” or “protégés,” before he “moved on” to others.
(Since 2010 Ritchie Sinclair is most famous as the business associate, and courtroom tag-team partner of Donald Robinson and the Kinsman Robinson Galleries. KRG works hand in glove with Sinclair and his malicious website, in their campaign to denigrate all Morrisseau BDPs – THOUSANDS IF YOU CAN BELIEVE, like “Tears of My Grandmother 1976” – as forgeries.)
Dictionary: “Thief – a person who steals, especially secretly or without open force; one guilty of theft or larceny.” (Source: Dictionary.com)
Wolf Morrisseau says he hired Sinclair for Norval. Verbal testimony and numerous documents say it was 1981; in court testimony Ritchie Sinclair claims it was 1979, but produced no documentary proof. At the time, “Ritchie” was still a raw uneducated kid just barely out of high school who stated publicly, that at the time he had never even heard of Morrisseau and had never even seen one of his paintings or even a picture of any of his paintings.
We have no knowledge of what Sinclair had done for Norval to memorialize so scathingly – for the Ages – the young self-styled “protégé” as a lowlife “theif.”
Sinclair claims – when the acrylic was suddenly uncovered in a long hidden private collection of numerous Norval “Confessional Diary” paintings – that the painting is a forgery, but offered no proof of any kind other than bluster.
Forensically Certified – In fact one of Canada’s top independent forensic scientists certified in 2011, with DNA certainty, that the huge BDP signature on the back was genuinely written by no one else than the one and only Norval Morrisseau.
(In fact all three scathing “Confessional Diary” paintings, so far submitted for scientific handwriting analysis – all on white men: “Donald Robinson, The Shark in Still Waters,” “Bryant Ross the Snake” and “Ritchie the Theif,” have all been certified as totally genuinely signed by Norval and by no other hand.)
Which is immensely compromising because the paintings themselves are irrelevant. Although I believe they are genuine, it doesn’t matter at all to the forensics of the handwriting. Even if they were fakes.
Remember it is not the painting itself which is key and decisive; it is the English handwritten titling on the back which makes the charge, and that writing is forensically certified as genuine. Norval clearly believed what he wrote even if Sinclair – and presumably Robinson and Ross – claim they’re forgeries, or that Norval doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Or even if – going wildly out in left field – what they say is true, then Norval’s writing – it is incontrovertibly his – is then clearly just another early sign of Norval’s Dementia, showing up as early as 1981 and 1988 when most of his “Confessional Diary” paintings were signed.
There is no parallel painting where Norval calls any Indian a “theif” or anything of the kind. Which reflects Norval’s subsistence way of thinking that when an Indian appropriates something personal or valuable from someone else both sides genuinely consider it “sharing” regardless how painful the loss might be, rationalizing, “he probably needed it more than I do.”
(This Aboriginal cultural value is expressed further, in that in their communities houses are rarely locked and people just walk in and out of each other’s homes, anytime, without even knocking, just as if they were the community hall, as in a real sense they are. It’s obviously impossible to maintain a possessive “greedy white man” mentality over your possessions in such an open-door, and open-handed society.)
“Thieving” and “stealing” is what self-centered and acquisitive “greedy white men” do, when they take stuff from Indians: land for railways or white businesses, children for residential schooling, potlatch ceremonial art from Alert Bay, bones from Indian graveyards, unprotected paintings from Norval, and helpless teenage girls for the sex trade or to rape and murder.
(There are currently some 600 young Aboriginal women “missing,” and unaccounted for, mostly in western Canada. Dozens were traced to Robert Pickton and his farm, where as a serial rapist, torturer, and murderer, from c 1996 on, he claimed to have murdered 49 – his count – in Port Coquitlam, BC.)
Barry Ace Notes a Telling Clash of Cultures – A cultural distinction Ace so pungently illustrated in his article by noting an exchange between Norval and his white “primary care-giver” and the sole controller and manipulator of his Power of Attorney.
“Greedy White Man” Run Amok Part 1 – Ace observed that as Norval and Gabe Vadas were touring the Government of Canada’s large Morrisseau DIAND collection, Vadas grew more and more agitated about how so much of Norval’s art had ended up in the museum vaults instead of in Norval (and Vadas’) personal collection.
(Much had been bequeathed by Selwyn Dewdney an anthropologist, an early 1960s Norval friend and mentor, and a man who hugely contributed to Norval’s development as a successful artist, unlike the parasitic white men who scrambled shamelessly to get a piece of his wheelchair in Norval’s declining years.)
Vadas realized this collection amounted to countless hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly millions. That were his for the asking… Hell, he had the Power of Attorney…
Ace overheard Vadas aggressively urging Norval to take steps to take it all back into their own possession.
Obviously, the dollar signs danced in front of his eyes…; but not Norval’s.
Ace noted that Norval gently refused to consider Vadas’ outrageous suggestion to repossess a government archive full of Morrisseau art and memorabilia.
Clearly Norval – the showman – wanted his art to be accessible to the public through the museum collection, not hoarded up in his and Gabe’s basement, for resale at some opportune time, to be hidden away in someone else’s private basement.
Greedy White Man” Run Amok Part 2 – The Otavnik v Vadas Defence
The most diabolically telling document that chillingly shows the ruthless lengths to which the white Conspiracy Theorists manipulating Norval, were prepared to go, during his “wheelchair invalid period of painting,” after 1989, was exposed by accident.
Canadians have to thank Joe Otavnik for helping expose it, when he launched a lawsuit (Otavnik v Vadas) after Vadas libeled him and defamed his original Morrisseau at Heffel’s Auction in 2006. The Heffel boys, not being great at art authentication – they’re mass market auctioneers – quickly dumped, defamed, degraded, and devalued Otavnik’s paintings, in front of millions of Canadians, and millions more art collectors around the world.
Otavnik sued Vadas and demanded he bring Norval in front of a judge with his proof the paintings were fake, when, in fact, a top Canadian forensic scientist ruled they were genuine, and signed by none other than Norval Morrisseau, with DNA certainty, and by no one else.
Vadas produced a Defendant’s Defence Claim (May 8, 2007) which exposes hugely compromising information that clarifies the length to which the Conspiracy Theorists were prepared to go to perpetuate the Hoax, and the degree to which they used and abused Norval, to aid and abet the process, long past the point of basic human decency.
These revelations which were included in a sworn statement that is supposed to tell the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” to a judge, revealed:
1 – Vadas Ruthlessly Wielding Norval’s Power of Attorney Since 1990 – In a totally astonishing admission, that slipped out inadvertently, as Vadas tried to craft a defence for himself against Otavnik, was that he Vadas – not Norval – had been wielding Norval’s Power of Attorney, since Apr. 24, 1990.
It explains that the astonishingly ruthless legal offensive against reputable and long-established Canadian art dealers that started in 1993, was not Norval’s doing at all, in any way. His Aboriginal background would have militated against his participation in schemes for private gain against old friends and colleages who for decades had bought his paintings, and supported him when he was down and out and relied on their goodwill.
To “bite the hand that feeds you” was never Norval’s way.
But it is incontrovertible evidence of the mindset of that ruthlessly “greedy white man” Gabe Vadas, whose “take no prisoners” attitude with regard to grabbing all Norval’s stuff at any price, was documented, in 1995, by Barry Ace, and in the CBC’s “Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau” where Vadas himself told the camera, “I am deserved of all of it. Whether people like it or not, it doesn’t matter.”
So, in fact the truth is that Norval’s approval or participation in all the legal shenanigans that the “greedy white men” around his wheelchair were to carry out during the last 17 years of his life, in his name, were not necessary at all. The only thing required of him was, not even a brain, not even consciousness, just a body with a “pulse.”
If he died, the Power of Attorney would die with him. To make the Power of Attorney work, in Canada’s legal system, all the Conspiracy Theorists had to do was maintain Norval on life support.
Which is in fact, exactly where Norval was, physically, mentally, and artistically at this point in his life (2006) and he had been for years.
2 – Vadas Claims Norval Says They’re Fakes – Vadas claims he consulted with Norval who allegedly declared the Otavnik paintings fake. Which is, to be polite, a human impossibility.
In fact the truth is that FOUR years before Vadas filed his Defence with the court, claiming to have communicated with Norval, in 2003, CBC producer Paul Carvalho, couldn’t get Norval to utter a single word, for his one-hour television program on the artist. In an email he confirmed “this double difficulty – our protagonist could not talk. Striking a balance was a challenge, to say the least” (email – Paul Carvalho, Mar. 28, 2012)
In fact the further truth is that two years before Vadas filed his Defence, in May, 2005, Norval’s old buddy Gary Lamont visited him by sneaking past Vadas’ “lock-up,” in the terminal care facility in Nanaimo, BC. Gary reported afterwards to intimates he was shocked to discover that Norval didn’t show the slightest evidence that he even recognized him.
In fact the further truth is that the very same year Vadas files with the judge that he supposedly “consulted” Norval, Christian, Norval’s son, also visited Norval, and was distressed to discover that Norval no longer recognized him either.
Yet Vadas in his Defence swears Norval communicated with him, even if Lamont and Christian both say that was a physical impossibility. Which is a diabolical and consistent pattern of elder abuse in this case: numerous people, over the years, report Norval comatose or incapable of communication while Vadas claims Norval communicates with him clearly on hundreds of fake paintings and helps draught some eight Affidavits of Forgery during this time.
In fact the truth is that every one of the demands and claims that Vadas made in his defence were proven false which he as much as admitted, by begging Otavnik to settle out of court.
A forensic scientist authenticated the paintings which Vadas called fakes, as authentic Morrisseaus.
Rather than getting costs he demanded, Vadas and Morrisseau, begged Otavnik for an out-of-court settlement, paying Otavnik $11,000 in hush money to avoid facing a judge, and furthermore asked him to sign an Affidavit that he would not sue further if the paintings, after all the allegations of forgery, turned out to be genuine.
As Toronto lawyer, and international fake art sleuth Bonnie Czegledi said:
“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 and theft is rampant. 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)
3 – Vadas Says Norval’s Children are Long Estranged from Him – Vadas tries to fool the judge into believing that Norval’s Aboriginal children have long abandoned their father.
In fact the truth is that Vadas kept Norval locked up and prevented visitation or access to everyone, especially Norval’s children for many years.
The stress was so huge that in 2001 the family sent a kidnap party to Nanaimo and behind Vadas’ back, snatched Norval out of his terminal care facility, and took him to Thunder Bay, ON where they kept him till the fall of 2002, when Gabe “the greedy white man” snatched him back again.
Gabe was desperate to maintain total control of Norval only to back up his Power of Attorney for managing Norval’s painting empire. To engineer that he only needed a body with a pulse.
In fact the further truth is that, with Norval’s impending death, Gabe Vadas was ruthlessly trying to circumvent British Columbia inheritance law, which stipulates that half of any estate must go to the children.
Vadas was determined, to have it all, damn the law, damn the ethics, damn the morality, and especially damn Norval’s Aboriginal family. As he told the CBC’s “Life & Times,” “I am deserved of all of it. Whether people like it or not, it doesn’t matter.”
In fact the further truth is that, literally with Norval’s dying breath, only two months before the “body with a pulse” died, Vadas had him sign a will disowning his Indian family and giving everything he owned: boats, houses, property, bank accounts, and some $40 million in paintings, then stored secretly for “safekeeping,” away from Norval’s Aboriginal children and their lawyers, in Donald Robinson’s basement at the Kinsman Robinson Galleries in Toronto.
Or, in my mind, more correctly, Vadas, the “greedy white man” produced a document “bearing Norval’s name.” At any rate the document sports a Norval signature that is vastly more steady and superior to any Norval had been capable of for many years. It was if Norval’s last interest on earth was to give Gabe a really good signature.
In fact the further truth is that “greedy white men,” Gabe Vadas and Donald Robinson, maintained their ferocious grip on the “body without a pulse,” even after Norval died. In a deliberate, cold, and calculated move – hell they were the very first to know – Vadas and Robinson, deliberately refused to tell Norval’s family he had died.
Norval’s Aboriginal family only, only learned of his death by accident from a family friend, Jim White, two days after he had passed on.
A. Yes. I was fortunate enough to meet Christian Morrisseau at a show he did in one of the Toronto Galleries. And then when Norval Morrisseau passed away in 2007, I phoned the kids and asked if they were coming down for the funeral. They live on reservations way up North. And I was absolutely amazed to find that they didn’t know their father had died and this was two days later. At that point, Mr. Don Robinson and Mr. Gabor Vadas had arranged for the cremation” of Mr. Morrisseau, which would have been the first cremation in Canadian history of one of native people of that Ojibway origin. So, the kids got quite excited. I paid along with another gentleman for airfare to bring them to Toronto. Otherwise, they would never have known their father was dead until after he was cremated. (Transcripts, Queen v Otavnik, Mar 5, 2013 p8)
In fact the further truth is that that Vadas and Robinson, who had $40 million worth of Norval’s paintings in the basement of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries at the time, were collaborating to have him quickly cremated, something both Norval and his Aboriginal family would have been strongly against.
They had to make a strong legal intervention to repossess Norval’s body from the dastardly duo.
But, say readers of crime novels, it all makes perfect sense to them. It appears that Vadas and Robinson were in an unseemly hurry to secretly “burn” the evidence, lest some probing judge order an autopsy or an exhumation to find medical proof about how degenerated Norval was physically, mentally, and artistically in his last years. And start to question the will Norval signed only two months before his death, giving everything to Vadas – and heh, heh, to Robinson who, no doubt, hoped to get a cut for selling the huge hoard of paintings he was hiding for Vadas – and leaving not a nickel to his Aboriginal family.
They clearly had every interest to seek to forestall the discovery of forensic evidence for questions that have been self-evident to numerous knowledgeable people close to the story:
– did the Stroke, Dementia, and Parkinson’s debilitated wheelchair invalid, really paint all those canvases sold during his confinement period?
– did he really dream up all those Affidavits of Forgery and select the hundreds of pictures of his paintings appended to them?
– did he really dream up and organize the setting up of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society?
Or was Norval just Canada’s most horrendous victim of egregious elder abuse and had he simply become a helpless victim, and served as a witless cover for a massive business offensive, by a very small number of “greedy white men” who set out to control the market in Morrisseau art?
4 –Norval’s Children Appeal to the Supreme Court of British Columbia – On Aug. 25, 2010, seven of Norval’s children had to launch a lawsuit against Gabe Vadas, the “greedy white man” who, by hook or by crook, was trying to grab millions for himself because “I am deserved of it all.”
Norval’s children swore in an Affidavit, specifics which many other observers had, independently, been aware of for years, by detailing the worst case of elder abuse (my belief) in Canadian history, saying that: “there is no valid or rational reason for disinheriting the Plaintiffs” and charging that:
“The Will is Invalid
11. The Alleged Will was executed under suspicious circumstances, the particulars of which are as follows:
a – the Testator (Norval Morrisseau) did not have independent legal advice with respect to the Alleged Will;
b – the Testator’s name is misspelled throughout he Alleged Will;
c – At the time the Alleged will was executed the Testator was suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease and was physically, mentally and emotionally frail;
d – At the time the Alleged Will was executed, the Testator was dependant on Vadas for all aspects of his day to day existence and had very little contact with anyone other than Vadas.
12. The Testator did not know and approve the contents of the Alleged Will.
13. The Testator lacked testamentary capacity at the time the Alleged Will was made.
14. The Testator was subject to the undue influence of Vadas, the particulars of which are known to the Defendant and which include:
a) Vadas deliberately isolated the Testator from his family;
b) Vadas dominated and controlled every aspect of the Testator’s life, including his health, finances, business and personal relationships;
c) Vadas profited handsomely from the sale of the Testator’s artwork while the Testator lived in virtual poverty; and
d) Vadas was often verbally abusive with the Testator and the Testator was intimidated by him.
(Filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Aug. 25, 2010)
The family was successful, being granted half of whatever it could find that Vadas had not adequately succeeded in hiding in secret Toronto basements, the backwoods, or in overseas storage facilities and banks.
“Greedy White Man” Run Amok Part 3 – In fact in early 2002 Gabe Vadas secretly – neither Norval or his family, or any members of the public were aware of it – arranged in collaboration with Donald Robinson, to send a huge hoard of Norval’s paintings – 384 of them – for “safekeeping,” from Nanaimo, BC into the basement of Robinson’s Toronto, Ontario, Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Secret Storage in the KRG Basement #1 – The “safekeeping,” of course, was from Norval and his family, who had just successfully kidnapped Norval, only weeks before, from the clutches of the “greedy white men” who had locked up the artist in a terminal care facility. And they were litigating aggressively with their lawyer for the return of Norval’s property.
Norval’s Aboriginal family had already grabbed Norval successfully and moved him to Thunder Bay. Would the paintings be next? This called for drastic action and a concerted action by the “greedy white men;” resulting in what I call the “Vadas/Robinson caper.”
I consider the Vadas/Robinson “caper,” involving 384 secretly hidden paintings with a potential value of some 40 million dollars, the biggest art “heist” in Canadian history, and one of the biggest in the world. It would have remained totally unknown had we not exposed it in the pages of this blog, after details were inadvertently blurted out by a distracted Donald Robinson trying to make a point on an unrelated matter. (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Sep 1, 2011 p 32)
Secret Storage in the KRG Basement #2 – These apparently were not the only Morrisseau paintings stored in the KRG basement. John MacGregor Newman, the Associate Director of the gallery, told one art client who sent him high quality photos of the front and backs of genuine Morrisseau BDPs for appraisal, an astonishing and utterly compromising thing.
“We won’t take your (BDP) paintings on consignment or sell them for you. Your paintings are fakes. I should know; we have hundreds of these (BDPs) in our basement.” (Related to me in conversation in 2010)
If this is true, why would KRG keep hundreds of paintings in the basement, of a BDP type Donald Robinson told Judge Martial were worth “zero?”
Note: These hundreds of BDP paintings should not be confused with the KR384 that were in KRG’s basement from 2002 till 2009. Donald Robinson testified those were all totally blank on the back; Newman is referring to BDPs, all signed on the back with huge black drybrush paint signature, title, and date.
“Greedy White Man” Run Amok Part 4 – During this very time, while hundreds of his paintings were in secret storage in the KRG basement, Norval told journalist John Geddes in 2003 that he had only one wish, that he had enough money to buy some canvas and paints…
“Morrisseau gripes a little about the nursing home. He says he needs more money, although his income from art sales appears to be substantial. Vadas asks him what he would buy with it. “Canvas and paper,” he says. Such a sad answer.”(John Geddes, The Ecstasy of Norval Morrisseau, Jan. 26, 2004.)
Geddes appears moved by the sad plight of Norval. Clearly the “substantial income” is not getting through to Norval at all if he’s deprived of canvas and paint…
Clearly Norval was considered more useful, and pliable, if he was made to feel he was a traditional “starving artist.” And so eager to sign any legal document his white handlers might put in front of him, to help bring a few dollars of income his way. You know, for “canvas and paper…”
Norval had, true to his culture, “shared” it all with his white business partners, who true to their own “greedy white man” culture, took it, to “safeguard” it all for themselves.
The tens of millions worth of paintings remained in Toronto in the possession Donald Robinson, the man Norval called, “The Shark in Still Waters,” until two years after Norval died, when Vadas again took sole possession. (Testimony(Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Sep 1, 2011 p 32)
No one knew of his secret stash and he went all out to prevent the paintings from being detected. He announced that Norval died without owning a single painting or property of any kind. That Norval had left nothing, zilch, nada, for his Aboriginal family and children. Gabe took it all for himself.
(Note: Under BC law at least 50% of the estate must be left to immediate family.)
This, of course, was sharing, “white man” style. Norval, the “Dumb Indian,” though a brilliant success as a world class artist, died utterly and totally broke, leaving not a cent, not a boat, not a property, not a bank account, not a painting, not even a pot to hiss in, for his Aboriginal family and children.
(No one knows what Vadas did with Norval’s huge cache of Aboriginal carvings, masks, and paintings he had gathered for years and filled his house to the rafters at the time he died.)
While the white duo of enterprising businessmen had secretly squirreled away 384 of his paintings, did they plan to eventually rake in tens of millions for themselves? Or were they safe-guarding them to later donate them to public museums?
Had Norval ever been told of any of this, his retort would likely have been totally predictable: “fuc*in’ greedy white man.”
His experience with white men, fuelled by his life growing up as an Aboriginal in an all pervasive and exploitive white society nurtured an “anti-white” psychosis that he vented freely whenever he was drinking as observed by Phil Doyle:
“Greedy White Man” Run Amok Part 5 – The CBC one-hour television program, supposedly on the life of Norval Morrisseau, who couldn’t say a word, so for whom Gabe Vadas did all the talking, captured a telling moment that illustrates perfectly in diabolical detail the “greedy white man” concept. Vadas made an unseemly greedy pronouncement as he motioned to all the fabulous paintings and carvings of Norval’s that filled numerous rooms of his house:
“When Norval and I first got together, Norval turned to me and said, ‘You see all this stuff? It’s because of you that we’re able to do this.’ So Norval made that very, very, clear – that we created this, we did this, and because we created this, that I’m deserved of all of it. Whether people like it or not, it doesn’t matter.” (CBC, Life and Times, Paul Carvalho 2005)
Note: Is any of this true? I absolutely doubt it. Vadas has been aggressively wielding Norval’s Power of Attorney since 1990. His claim has all the self-justifying earmarks of a classic invention and rationalization born of the mentality only found in a “greedy white man,” absolutely not in Norval’s culture or background.
Exactly like my camp stove, my eight track tapes, so Norval’s paintings were always easy-come, easy-go, a part of the sharing ethos fundamental to the Aboriginal psyche. Neither thinking nor saying, what Gabe claims Norval said, is even remotely connected to the truth. In fact this was always the fundamental problem and the source of stress between Norval Morrisseau and the “terminally greedy white men” who lived off the money they schemed to make from his art. “Living” not “living off his art” was what Norval was always about. And why Norval was always a passive, or unknowing party to all the legal machinations launched by his “greedy white caregivers” who ramped up their efforts at a time Norval had long ago, “left the building” mentally.
It is white men who fanatically itemize property, note it, label it, inscribe it, guard it jealously behind lock and key, and look for self-serving personal material advantage in every way they can. And to hell with anybody else…
Norval knew this mentality and loathed it. To him personal possessions are fine if you have them, not a big deal if you lose them, and easily shared with less fortunate people if their need was greater than his.
In line with that, a will – common among white men who constantly worry about their property and what will become of it – was never a Norval thing. But it is certainly a white man’s thing, a greedy Gabe Vadas thing.
That’s why Vadas quickly hid all Norval’s paintings (the forty million dollars worth in the Vadas/Robinson caper from 2002 – 2009) without Norval knowing about it. With Norval’s impending death he was going to make sure no one else got Norval’s wealth.
And that’s why – how compromising is that? – only a month before Norval’s death, Vadas was a witness, and signatory – and I believe the diabolical instigator as a “greedy white man – in getting Norval to sign away all his property, millions of dollars in paintings, houses, property, boats, and bank accounts, to Vadas.
“Greedy White Man” Run Amok Part 6 – On Norval’s death, a month after the will was announced, four of Norval’s Aboriginal children went to court to claim their father’s inheritance, which is their right under British Columbia law.. They claimed, in effect, that Gabe forced a helpless Norval to make an illegal will because Gabe wanted it ALL, when BC law dictates that children of a deceased must get at least half of a father’s estate.
“Four of Morrisseau’s adult children – Christian, Eugene and David Morrisseau and Victoria Kakekagumick – are contesting Morrisseau’s will, which, they claim, is in the possession of Vadas and names him “the executor and sole beneficiary of the deceased’s estate.” In a caveat filed on Dec. 12 in the British Columbia Supreme Court, the four argue that the will should not be granted probate because of what they claim was Morrisseau’s “lack of testamentary capacity, lack of approval or knowledge of the contents of the will, the presence of undue influence, non-compliance with statutory requirements” and Vadas’s alleged “unfitness … to act as executor.” Late last year, they clashed with Vadas over his intention to have Morrisseau cremated.” (Globe, Adams, Mar.6, 2008)
“Greedy White Man” Run Amok Part 6 – Indians can be “greedy white men” too.
In two schools of which I was principal, in North West Territorial Aboriginal communities, I was pleased to have newly-minted Aboriginal teachers along with whites on staff. They earned among the highest salaries in town.
They were a local, and a government success story and pleased to come home and “give back” to their home communities.
Which ended up being a huge problem for them.
Everyone in town, relatives, friends, neighbours, would repeatedly hit them up for money for groceries, traps, gas, clothing, booze, whatever, or ask for just outright money loans. Of course, none of it would ever come back. And if they didn’t “share” there were dire personal and social consequences.
On one occasion, when I went to visit one of my teachers Josephine (we’ll call her) at her “up-scale” government staff house – one of the perks, while many others lived in overcrowded low-end housing or log – I came upon a group of people taunting her, as she stood on the porch arguing back.
There were loud roars of “greedy white men” being thrown at her. The crowd was angry; Josephine was distraught and defensive. This was her home town, her own people. (In fact it was on a midnight skidoo crossing of a lake going to her father’s camp that I came as close to dying as I’ve ever been. I survived and ended up going to his funeral, instead of he to mine.) (Close calls with death)
Clearly, though I knew she had “given” lots to her family and friends already, as long as she had any extra, it was never enough.
In 2013 it is a continuing problem in the Canadian north, as Aboriginal teachers bail out of their home towns, for their mental health, and ask to teach in the larger towns and cities far from the Aboriginal communities for which the government trained them, hoping to make a difference locally.
Norval Rejects Being a “Greedy White Man” – Tellingly, while touring the DIAND archives with Barry Ace in 1995, Norval did not want to repossess his art from the Ottawa Government museum; he didn’t even want the money; he didn’t even want to consider investigating the legalities of whether he had a right to challenge ownership. As Vadas strenuously urged him to.
Norval, culturally an Aboriginal to the end, challenged and overruled his own business manager, “the greedy white man” who had wielded his Power of Attorney since 1990.
Norval was culturally and personally revolted by the self-serving concept Vadas, who was also his longtime lover (Testimony of Wolf Morrisseau; also Norval’s own written “Diary” painting documentation) was promoting.
On another occasion, decades earlier, and speaking of another struggling contemporary white artist Norval barked the same sentiment:
“Endre Szàsz is just bullshit to me. I tell you one thing about this man. His idea is to fight himself to be on top. Every day people like this fight themselves to be on top. This is the way he is. White men will scratch their nails to be on top. But, NM is he fighting? He is famous but he is not fighting hard. This intrigues people because he doesn’t fight to be on top.” (Stevens, Picasso, p141)
(Szàz was a Hungarian multi-disciplinary artist who lived in Canada from 1970-1974 when Norval met him.)
The DIAND exchange with Norval taught Vadas a valuable lesson: he couldn’t count on Norval, with his subsistence mentality, to come aboard any “greedy white man” business initiative, like you know, the “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” the Conspiracy Theorists would suddenly announce a few years later, in May 2001.
Unless Norval was totally “out of it.”
Is it any wonder then that this Conspiracy Theory was launched at exactly the same time (2001) that they felt safe to consign Norval to a terminal care facility, and had him locked up.
Now with Norval safely out of the way, the Conspiracy Theorists were free to say and do whatever they wanted about Norval’s art. They had Gabe Vadas’ Power of Attorney to send just about anyone involved in selling Morrisseau art – even Canada’s longest serving and most reputable fine art dealers – running scared.
Lawyer Aaron Milrad Speaks for “Sad Sack” Morrisseau – In their self-promotional publicity, the Conspiracy Theorists – like Norval’s lawyer, Aaron Milrad’s claims to a CBC reporter in 2009 – went completely overboard about Norval’s supposed views of the so-called forgeries.
“How did NM feel about his works being forged? I mean he only passed away a couple of years ago…
Aaron Milrad: “He was very, very upset, and very saddened by this because he did not understand why this was necessary and why he was being picked on in this fashion, by people that he felt had to know better than do this.” (to Mark Montgomery, Radio-Canada, Feb 17, 2009)
To me, who had spend many years totally immersed in Canadian Aboriginal culture by living and teaching in remote villages in Canada’s remote north, every part of lawyer Milrad’s statement rings false, in the extreme:
– the various sentiments lawyer Milrad stated, none of them, would ever be personally expressed by Norval, either in documented print or audio or video recordings of any kind,
– any and all corroborative proof of the lawyer Milrad claim, comes only from the small handful of white businessmen scrabbling for advantage around Norval’s wheelchair,
– any and all corroborative proof of the lawyer Milrad sentiments, from independent documented sources, is totally absent,
– in fact, lawyer Milrad’s claim is utterly discounted by proof and documentation from many independent witnesses and family members,
– like Wolf Morrisseau whom Judge Martial called a totally believable witness – who said exactly the polar opposite. That, in fact, the truth was that Norval wanted his art and his message about his people to reach out in all ways and directions (in fact Norval is even on the record as signing, as genuine works by him, paintings he claimed he hadn’t painted),
– the personality lawyer Milrad creates with his prose is as fictitious and as far from the documentary record that describes the genuine Norval Morrisseau as it’s possible to get.
Far from telling us what Norval authoritatively thought, a question is far more pertinent. How self-serving is lawyer Milrad’s portrait of his client, from whom he’s likely made hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years?
And just how accurately does lawyer Milrad’s portrayal of Morrisseau – go read it again – reflect the personal “sensitivity” of a man, who was a self-confessed and extreme sexual renegade, using people of all ages and sexes, and a man who physically beat up a fellow artist (Carl Ray) whom he resented, and then deliberately defecated (shat) in his motel room to get even? And a man whose punishment for his own small kids and young relatives was smearing them with excreta, or burning their butts on a hot iron stove.
Now go back and read lawyer Milrad’s quote again…
To compare the lawyer Milrad portrait of the Aboriginal artist you have to remember to counter-balance the charges about fakes and forgeries that were to come. You have to ask yourself: would the Morrisseau documented by Barry Ace and James Stevens say, or do, or support or acquiesce in the charges of forgeries made by his white business managers over the final decade of his life? Provided, of course, he was of sound mind and body.
Norval Confesses Copies are Grrreat… – The Ace portrait of Norval echoes what Wolf Morrisseau testified to in front of Judge Paul Martial in 2012, in the Hatfield v Child case.
“Q. Now, prior to that, in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s did your brother ever voice concerns to you about fakes or imitations in the marketplace?
A. Well, he actually didn’t really care because, in his eyes, he thought that the more imagery that was out there the more people got, people would come to know Aboriginal artwork or the called Woodland Style.” (Court Trans/Hat(Court Trans/field v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p117)
Norval NEVER Confesses Alleging Countless Fakes – In fact there is not a single piece of video tape or audio tape, or a written article by Norval Morrisseau that claims there are “thousands of fakes out there,” and that he would object to the possibility, or that he would feel hurt or diminished by such an eventuality.
ALL the charges of so-called forgeries, that exist, are ALL hearsay evidence issued entirely through the hands of his all-white business managers during the last seven years of his life. Norval is personally not on the record, as saying that forgeries exist, or that he is opposed to copies of his work.
In fact, Norval was “not available” – in terminal care – when the first allegations of 23 forgeries against Jim White were made in Norval’s name in 2001 by Donald Robinson.
In fact Norval is on the record, on one occasion, as even saying he was willingly to sign good (fake) copies with his name. (It is something Picasso also said he would do if the copies were well done.)
In 2011 Norval’s business managers were behind a court action alleging that a painting “Wheel of Life 1979” was a fake, according, they claimed, to the 2005 say-so of the Dementia-plagued Morrisseau only two years before his death.
1 – Why Did They Avoid Judges & Courts With a Passion? – Why had Norval’s “handlers,” the two white men around his wheelchair (Donald Robinson and Gabe Vadas), who had first raised allegations of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” ten years earlier, in 2001, never taken a single forger or forgery to court, in all that time?
This is compromisingly outrageous in the extreme because they were certainly busy, in all the years that followed, like cyber bullies, slanging reputable Morrisseau art dealers from coast to coast, and threatening them non-stop with legal “cease and desist” letters, lawyer’s letters and affidavits. But not once, in all that time, did they ever follow through and drag even one alleged forger or forgery to court, to put the alleged “creep” in the dock so they could present their proof in front of a judge.
Far from it. When the Conspiracy Theorists (Vadas, lawyer Milrad, Morrisseau) were threatened with being dragged into court and to “put up or shut up” by art dealer Joe Otavnik following the Heffel fiasco in 2007, they “ran for the hills” rather than face the wrath of a judge in court. And they paid Otavnik hush money to put an end to their false claims.
When art dealer Michael Moniz launched a lawsuit against the Globe (acting on evidence of so-called forgeries provided by lawyer Milrad and Vadas in 2007) and demanding the paper “put up or shut up,” Vadas, lawyer Milrad, and Morrisseau again “ran for the hills.” with their customary indecorous and unseemly haste, instead of standing by the Globe, whose reporter published false claims they had made. Leaving the Globe holding the bag, and having to pay hush money to Moniz.
Obviously knowing they had no believable proof of forgeries of any kind, the Defendants opted to settle out of court, rather than face the wrath of a judge with their charges against paintings that had been forensically proven to be authentic. So Vadas paid off Otavnik with $11,000 and the Globe paid off Moniz with some $25,000 for falsely libeling the art dealers and defaming their genuine art as fakes in public.
This fact alone, testifies how utterly insincere were the Conspiracy Theorists in their claims of so-called forgery, how unsubstantiated and skimpy was their proof and allegations, and how utterly impossible they themselves felt were their chances in convincing any reasonable minded third party like a judge of their claims.
So for twelve years they just opted for an art terrorism strategy against Canada’s leading Morrisseau dealers, that promised a better success rate. Bully their way through with private letters, and ramp up every Canadians’ worst nightmare, a midnight phone call from some lawyer… No not because it meant jail time, or you were guilty of anything, but because it meant “bankrupt” time in the necessity of having to pay lawyers huge bucks to defend you even against a specious and unmeritorious SLAPP lawsuit.
Why had Vadas and Robinson waited to announce their allegations of so-called forgeries until Norval was safely locked away, in 2001, in a terminal care facility where all access, by anyone, to the greatly mentally and physically deteriorated artist, was tightly controlled by Gabe Vadas?
Until they had Norval locked up, and isolated, with outside access completely controlled, there had never been any allegations of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” ever rumoured or published in writing anywhere.
It is pretty clear that Vadas and Robinson now felt safe to launch their “forgeries, forgeries, everywhere” business initiative, as they had taken steps to make sure that no one had access to Morrisseau to try to confirm if what these two guys were saying was true.
In fact it worked like a charm. The very first journalist, Murray Whyte, in 2001, tried to reach Morrisseau to confirm the allegations and couldn’t.
Whyte, forgoing the requisite “due diligence” with his sources, apparently concluded “Oh, hell. I’ll publish anyway,” and launched the biggest art Hoax in Canadian history, destroying with his unconscionable and unsubstantiated charges in the media, tens of millions of dollars in valuations of Morrisseau art in the possession of hundreds of decent and honourable Canadians from coast to coast.
2 – Making a Hapless CT Proxy Pay, and Pay, and Pay…! – How did the Conspiracy Theorists, when they had refused to take a single forger or forgery to court themselves – we believe because they had no proof any judge would swallow – in over twelve years, did they manage to convince a little old schoolmarm, Margaret Hatfield, a retired public school teacher on a meager pension, to become a Conspiracy Theorist Proxy, and spend over $40,000 of her own money and counting, to try to prove that a $10,000 painting is a fake? Is that not over-the-top madness?
Proxies are third parties, who are chosen to become legal “stand-ins” for the claims of the Conspiracy Theorists. They are gullible, and easily suckered into becoming the active agents promoting the Hoax about fakes, and who, either publish unsubstantiated drivel without doing due diligence (i.e. newspaper journalists), or pay for a court case, alleging fakes, which the Conspiracy Theorists want to advance as a business initiative but don’t want to pay for.
Hatfield could have avoided the whole mess by practicing simple “due diligence” in cross-checking malicious information about so-called fakes she was given, by people she had met on an “internet date.”
The Proxy Psychosis – Hey, the explanation is simple. The proxies – always neophyte, art dilettantes, or paid mainstream media drudges – fall easily into the hands of malicious Conspiracy Theorist Hoaxers for various reasons. They begin to doubt genuine works, genuine dealers, genuine facts, genuine judicial rulings, genuine findings by forensic scientists, and in the end even doubt themselves, and end up believing the most ludicrous and unsubstantiated fraudulent claims imaginable from people they only met on the internet. Or who sought them out to persuade them they had purchased fakes.
In the end CT Proxies prefer to believe blowhard hucksters – like those Ms. Hatfield found on a spurious Morrisseau internet site – and start to doubt established, reputable, honest, and decent people like Joe McLeod, whose Morrisseau art selling days go back to 1960. And who still is close to the Morrisseau family, over fifty years later.
Unlike the Conspiracy Theorists who are totally estranged from all the Morrisseaus. Today both Conspiracy Theorists and the Morrisseau family are fighting to claim Norval’s missing 40 million dollar art hoard.
Hard as it is to believe, Proxies even start to doubt judges, like Morgan, Lacavera, Godfrey, and Martial, all of whom found against the Conspiracy Theorists and their bogus claims.
The Conspiracy Theorist Proxy Profile – CT Proxies are often “new” to the Canadian fine art market, in buying expensive art.
– they are buying expensive art not because of a passion but because they have disposable income to buy luxuries they can “show off,”
– they are invariably hugely uninformed about art in general, and Morrisseau in particular, and so are easily cajoled into deferring their reasoning powers and judgment to listen instead to unprincipled and diabolical Conspiracy Theorists who say, things like:
“Trust me! I’m the world expert. I knew Norval. Norval was a lover friend of mine. Norval appointed me his sole successor. Norval’s mind was sharp as a tack right to the end. And Norval told me personally, ‘They’re all fakes, thousands of them.’ Trust me.”
A typical proxy might respond: “OK, ok, ok, I believe yah! Hey, I didn’t buy art to hafta go back to school, become a kid again, and hafta learn all kinds of stuff about ‘Morrison,’ and ‘providence…’ Look, I just wanted a Lexus to hang in my living room! Is that so wrong? I believe yah when you say I’ll get all my money back and more. I don’t wanna learn all this stuff. Just go on with the lawsuit!”
– proxies are often “local celebrities,” with money to burn, doing the mindless “upper class” thing and buying “high end” art to show off to friends, relatives, and colleagues. It’s on the same level as buying a Bentley, Ferrari, or Lexus. They’re not at all interested in practicing due diligence; hell they are panting to buy the ostentatious luxury, to “show off.”
International Art Dilettantes: Remember it was two gullible high society Dutch industrialist millionaires, D. G. van Beuningen and W. van der Vorm, who had not a clue about art, who paid multi-millions for forged Vermeers in the 1930s and 40s.
(Vermeers are the most highly coveted art works in the world since there are only some 35 authentic ones left. Because they are valued at $200 million plus, they are a favourite of forgers – obviously – not Morrisseaus that you could buy for only hundreds of dollars as recently as 2001, when Donald Robinson and some 200 art dealers eagerly snapped them up at Randy Potter Auctions from 1999 to 2008.)
Canadian Art Dilettantes: Remember too, it was none other than Toronto’s own David Mirvish – you know, who inherited millions from his father, who had made his money the “Honest” way – whose woeful ignorance about art, resulted in him blowing away some $10 million ($10,000,000) on three fake Jackson Pollocks c 2007. Honest Ed would roll over in his grave at the spendthrift son he had raised.
Neither the Dutch industrialist millionaires, nor Mirvish the inheritor, had scientific testing done on their paintings. They all just believed their art dealer’s say so, that the paintings (they turned out to be fakes) were a good deal. That is not “due diligence” considering what Toronto lawyer and international art expert Bonnie Czegledi says:
“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 and theft is rampant. 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)
In fact Edward Dolnick (See Books) says passionate and committed high end buyers never do scientific testing and neither do art dealers. Dolnick points out that just about the last thing an art dealer, who has an eager art buyer on the line for a big bucks purchase, want to do is to cause problems with forensic testing that might uncover stuff that could jeopardize or stop a highly lucrative sale. A sale takes precedence over everything else.
Art dealers are salesmen first and foremost. None are Mother Teresa.
Postscript: It is collectors alone, who care only for authenticity, not sales, who alone, have sought out forensic scientists to test their Morrisseau paintings, over 70 to date. All came back from three different scientists as authentic, not fakes as malevolently claimed by a few.
Head in the Sand Intellectualism: In the Morrisseau alleged fakes, there are parallels to what Dolnick states.
If you can imagine: Dr. Jonathan Browne and Dr. Julie Witmer refused to do scientific forensic testing on the painting they claimed was a fake even though outsiders offered to pay for it all.
In other words, this high flying Ottawa couple was not going to let scientific facts get in the way of their Conspiracy Theory beliefs that they had picked up on a spurious fine are internet dating site…
None of them – Browne, Witmer, Hatfield, Hearn, or McDermott – playing it like the gullible and ignorant Dutch industrialists, and spendthrift inheritor Mirvish – did scientific testing on their paintings, preferring to listen to unsubstantiated gossip from conniving Conspiracy Theorists.
The Devastating Truth: In fact ALL the paintings, without a single exception, involved in the so-called Morrisseau fakes cases (some 9 so far) that resulted in legal action: Otavnik v Vadas, Moniz v CTVglobemedia, Browne v Bugera, Otavnik v Sinclair, Sinclair v Otavnik 1, Sinclair v Otavnik 2, Hatfield v Child, Otavnik v Toronto Police Service Board, Goldi v Sinclair – have ALL been forensically certified by three of Canada’s top forensic scientists, with DNA certainty, as genuine Morrisseaus. Without a dissenting finding.
The Hoax Exposed: It is exactly this kind of due diligence with scientific testing that exposed the Dutch fakes, the Mirvish fakes, and exposed the Morrisseau Hoax of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.” To date over 70 paintings claimed to be fakes by Conspiracy Theorists have been forensically certified, with DNA certainty, as genuine Morisseaus, without a single dissenting finding.
– mainstream journalists, who, by a huge and repeated failure to do due diligence, have gleefully become gullible proxies and witless tools, of the Conspiracy Theorists, mindlessly advancing the Hoax, include:
– Murray Whyte, who started the whole debacle in 2001, by refusing to seek out the “provenance” for the facts, and publishing without checking or verifying the truth for any of it with Norval Morrisseau himself. A totally unforgivable lapse for a journalist. Or for anyone with a brain…
– Val Ross of the Globe (2007) whose premature death, within months of publishing, was likely hastened by her catastrophically ignorant article alleging fake Morrisseaus – which they never were – and for which the Globe was successfully sued by Michael Moniz.
Moniz won some $25,000 from CTVglobemedia for being libeled and having his paintings defamed.
– Jacquie Miller of the Ottawa Citizen (2013) who crafted a hopelessly ludicrous article that looked more like a business ad for Conspiracy Theorist lawyer Jonathan Sommer*** than a responsible piece of journalism. She probably had to rush off to do an article on Princess Kate’s new baby…
(***Lawyer Jonathan Sommer has now involved himself in at least four cases which promote the Conspiracy Theory, of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers:” for lawyer Zak Muskovitch, for Hatfield, for Hearn, and for McDermott.)
– Katie Mercer of the Vancouver Province (2010) who advanced the same old Conspiracy Theorist nonsense – hell for a journalist it’s always the easiest way out of having to do research. She spent an hour on the phone listening to Ugo Matulic who informed her of the mountain of scientific evidence that exposed the Hoax, but she wrote not a single line of countering evidence that he provided her. It was obviously too complicated for her mind, and she did have to file other stories before the day ended…
– Sleepy James Adams (Val Ross’s successor in the Globe arts portfolio) whose repeated and sloppily researched articles continue to give a Hoax and a Conspiracy Theory invented and spread by the same tiny handful of repeatedly discredited Hoaxers, more prominence than the facts clearly established by 40 odd reputable Morrisseau art dealers and experts across Canada.
Worse yet, Adams willfully ignores the unanimous findings, with DNA certainty, in over 70 paintings, by three of Canada’s top forensic scientists, certifying, independently, that what the two or three hard core Conspiracy Theorists claim is utterly false.
In effect, Adams, clearly a droning drudge and mindless robot on this file, is publishing drivel. If he was a proper journalist, interested in due diligence, he would have been forced to dismiss the fakes allegations long ago, as being founded on anything other than malicious self-interest of an irrelevant handful, because he could not – and has not – been able to find or show, support for his silly articles with any independently verifiable evidence at all.
His malevolent bosses at the Globe, sent the dutiful drudge to pursue his witch hunt, because Canada’s biggest newspaper was humiliated and forced to pay out $25,000 for lousy journalism, to a part-time taxi driver and security guard, who had a passion for something real and genuine (Morrisseau original art) that the paper and its chief journalist on the file, libeled and defamed.
They’re out for revenge, against the independent internet investigative journalists that have made life hell for toadying mainstream media journalist drones, as papers have been forced to lay off thousands of their hacks because people have become disgusted with the crap they write in the traditional media.
(Circulation at the Toronto Star, for example has dropped by 41% from 2007 to 2011, and The National Post and the Sun chain by 30 to 34%, by far the biggest drop in history. The sloppy and incompetent way mainstream media journalists have covered the Morrisseau Hoax is a good example of why readers have turned away in record numbers from the offerings of lazy mainstream media hacks.)
Committed to the Public Interest – Heavily researched and well-documented independent blogs like this one, and that of Ugo Matulic, published by passionate and caring and committed investigative journalists – the total antithesis of the mindless mainstream journalist wage slaves and drudges – offer much better and far more accurate and reliable fare, than the bits of crappy celebrity news items now routinely crammed between the ballooning pages of newspaper ads.
Adams, by spending 80% of his articles alleging forgeries, implying constantly that there are two equally meritorious contesting parties, instead of one totally discredited (by judge after judge, scientist after scientist, fact after fact) group of three plus their lawyers, against the overwhelming rest of the Canadian fine art world, and the top members of the forensic science and handwriting analysis community of experts.
By deliberately fudging the truth and deliberately totally ignoring any reasonable semblance of balance in giving the true state of the facts in the case, Adams is maliciously just advancing the Hoax as somehow credible. He continues to give it a life it has never deserved.
Shame on James…
Yes James Does Know Better! – Just like many Conspiracy Theorist proxies, it is not because Adams doesn’t know better; he does.
Site meter readings confirm that he regularly visits the two Morrisseau blogs that publish the evidence that gives him the incontrovertible proof of the biggest Hoax in Canadian history. Proving, incontrovertibly, that his articles are a “crock.” He just prefers to hide his head somewhere so he can publish garbage his editors prefer instead.
In fact, within only a couple of hours, after publishing his unbalanced and distorted article in which he named as an alleged forger, one fictitious “Randy Voss,” a person he either made up, as a result of his usual incompetent and careless brand of slap-dash journalism, he quickly removed it. But tellingly, only minutes after a scathing Morrisseau blog pointed out his mindlessly sloppy error to the world.
But no doubt pleasing his bosses at the Globe who are still smarting after having followed the same bogus line in 2007 – from exactly the same discredited so-called “experts” which Adams still prefers to listen to – forcing the paper to pay off Michael Moniz with $25,000 for having defamed and libeled him and his art with the same malicious twaddle.
Globe Gag Order – And then, to save them from a huge public embarrassment, forced a “gag” order on Moniz to prevent him from disclosing how incompetent and malicious the journalist and the Globe was, in willfully promoting a Hoax. And finally in being too scared to put their proof before a judge, deliberately demanding Moniz hide the true facts of the case.
Note: the Globe hoped to hide, from public disclosure that not only was it guilty of incompetent journalism, but was hosting a malevolent workplace as well. Not only was Val Ross hounded to an early grave, but another top Globe journalist, Jan Wong, who was also Val’s friend and commiserator, was hounded to a mental breakdown requiring hospital therapy, over an article she wrote and had cleared by Globe management. The Globe then stabbed Wong in the back, when it received negative feedback, which caused her breakdown. The paper then also slapped a Gag order on her settlement agreement, which Wong refused to sign off on. She wrote a book on her Globe experience.
Globe collateral damage to date: Morrisseau, Moniz, Ross, Wong…
In fact, two weeks before he died, Moniz told me the stress on his personal life and health resulting from the Globe’s vendetta against him had never abated. Michael, like Val, before him, died before his time, she a victim of the malicious claims of Conspiracy Theorists, and Michael a victim of the vendetta of Conspiracy Theorist proxies in the mainstream media, the Globe and its stable of discredited journalists.
The Conspiracy Theorists Weigh In – The day after Michael died one of the main Conspiracy Theorists sent out a triumphant email saying, “Hey dumb fuck, One down, two to go!”
That’s the sort of company James prefers to keep…
– it is why proxies like this lend themselves so beautifully to being “putty” in the hands of the malicious Conspiracy Theorists, making it inevitable that all are destined to coming to a predictable, costly, stressful, and embarrassing end, like Ms. Hatfield, or in addition to that, also a fatal one for Val Ross.
– to date the gullible proxies who have been used and abused to provide life support to help to promote and prolong the lingering death rattle of a thoroughly discredited Hoax are: Dr. Jonathan Browne (NGC patron), Dr. Julie Witmer (NGC patron), Kevin Hearn (keyboard player), Murray Whyte, Val Ross, Katie Mercer, Jacquie Miller, James Adams (mainstream media hacks), Ms. Hatfield (retired schoolmarm), John McDermott (he can sing but he can’t read).
Believe me, all are sorry today, or will be tomorrow, and wish that they had never heard of Norval Morrisseau, and now hate with a passion, a genuine work of art of his that they once fell in love with…
– oh, we must not forget the lawyers, who are getting rich convincing proxy after proxy, and encouraging them to go to court “to get their money back.” Ms. Hatfield did so; it cost her over $40,000 to try to defame a painting that cost her only $10,000. She then suffered the ultimate indignity when the judge ended up saying “without a shadow of a doubt” that her painting was genuine. Not all forty thousand went to her lawyer, of course; some went for streetcar fare, postage stamps and stationery, sundries, etc.
– lawyers are also recruited by people who are forced to defend themselves against untrue and malicious, defamatory and libelous attacks on their persons, their business, and their art. These legal costs to date, have cost totally innocent and reputable Canadian business people some $200,000 if you can believe, just defending their genuine paintings and hard-won business reputations from the slanging attacks of malicious Conspiracy Theorists, aided and abetted by lazy and mindless police investigators, lazy and mindless Crown Attorneys, and lazy and witless mainstream media journalists. None of whom have followed even basic “due diligence” in trying to vet whether even a smidgen of what they claim is true.
A More Cheery Hopeful Note: Judges dealing with the Morrisseau issues, alone, have an untarnished record for “calling it correctly,” and have unanimously come down on the side of those whose persons and art are attacked by Conspiracy Theorists, and against the side claiming forgeries exist: including Morgan (first sounded an early alarm in Whent v Canada 1996), Godfrey (twice), Martial, Lacavera, Holub, McCrae, Bobesich, Filkin, & Birchall.
All these Conspiracy Theorist Proxies are out thousands of dollars, some scores of thousands, have suffered untold personal and family grief, and have all ended up being thoroughly and totally humiliated, both inside and outside court by judges and investigative journalists in the non-mainstream media.
The Hatfield trial would be the longest court case on a Canadian art controversy in Canadian history. It can be the poster child judicial proceeding that illustrates the predictable end for all Conspiracy Theorist proxies.
In the end Ms. Hatfield had spent almost $50,000 on suing over her $10,000 painting which her numerous “advisors” (longtime business associates, the self-declared “expert,” Ritchie Sinclair and art dealer Donald Robinson; Gabe Vadas; lawyer Aaron Milrad) insisted was a totally worthless forgery.
A claim Judge Paul Martial strongly disagreed with, totally “rejecting” the key testimony of both her two so-called experts: Donald Robinson and his KRG business associate, Ritchie Sinclair, and lecturing her on not doing – in fact refusing – to do “due diligence” herself before starting to slang people (my characterization) which she continued to do with a vengeance in court.
He found, in fact, that Robinson was actually a self-serving businessmen, whose self interest it was to attack a painting which Judge Martial went on to declare was genuinely signed on the back by Morrisseau.
Tellingly Judge Martial went on to extend that finding about the signature on the back, to pronounce that the other side was a genuine Morrisseau painting as well.
Judge Martial’s finding, ruling, starkly and totally, against all the claims of the Conspiracy Theorists, would be just another in a long unbroken line of judicial rebuffs for them. It was a devastating result not only for their so-called expertise, but also for their trembling victim, the little old lady school teacher. She had already lost $40,000 for legal fees and counting… for a painting she had only paid $10,000 for.
The judgment issued by Judge Martial, put to bed, once and for all, the so-called controversy over the alleged fakes, as he completely dismissed the testimony and believability of the so-called “expert witness” in the case, Donald Robinson, as too much compromised by conflict of interest. And he found that Morrisseau, himself, was not believable or credible either by commission or omission, resulting from so much evidence indicating his advanced Dementia.
It is this tragic decline of Canada’s leading Aboriginal artist that we document below. It is the first time this has ever been done.
It lays out the proof that Morrisseau, whose art output peaked in the 70s and early 80s, went into a serious artistic decline by the early 1990s, directly due to the precipitous and serious physical and mental deteriorations that were obviously and noticeably victimizing Norval from then on.
Norval’s artistic output is clearly in freefall. And Norval was not, as Donald Robinson has vociferated, on the threshold of one of the greatest and most prolific periods of art production in his entire life.
The Ludicrous Hatfield Allegations: “THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO”
Norval had been dead for two years when Ms. Margaret Hatfield apparently discovered – through the equivalent of an “internet dating” service provided by a Conspiracy Theorist – that her painting “Wheel of Life 1979,” which she had bought at Artworld of Sherway (Toronto) in 2005, was listed as a supposed “fake” on an Affidavit of Forgery, “bearing the signature” of Norval Morrisseau, and produced as “evidence” by Norval’s white business partners of what they claimed was the artist’s true belief.
In May 2011, Ms. Hatfield opened the trial by choosing to speak in support of the mental acuity of a man (as he was in 2005) whom she had never even met.
In a trial where a judge would mildly chide her for not doing any “due diligence” – and she agreed – with regard to her painting. Her testimony soon made clear that she had been equally remiss in not checking into the background credentials of her own supposed “experts” on whom she chose to rely exclusively. All had the tainted outlook of passionate association with a “Conspiracy Theory” dreamed up by Donald Robinson and Gabe Vadas to enhance the value of their paintings and devalue everyone else’s by calling them fakes.
Yet neither of them had ever been able to produce any credible independent evidence for their allegations for anyone, either inside or outside of court.
She also did not do even minimal “due diligence” into researching the background regarding the well-known mental and physical decline of the artist whose painting she bought. But none of that stopped Ms. Hatfield from pontificating in her teacherly manner about the mental health and ability of her artist.
Ms. Hatfield chose to go to the Bible to prove “Wheel of Life 1979” was a fake. Loudly, like a teacher addressing a class, she asked the court, rhetorically, “Would a father turn against his own child (ed: a stand-in for the painting) and call it a fake?”
Ignoring, for one thing, all the documentary historical proof that Norval Morrisseau was, probably, the worst Deadbeat Dad in Canadian history. (see The Biblical Proof)
And furthermore, she deliberately ignored the pictures and documented proof that by then, Norval had, probably, the most destroyed body and mind of any leading Canadian personality in Canadian history. She could hardly have failed to see the pictures of Norval’s head drooping and his tongue hanging out, trailing drool, from as early as 1997.
And she had admitted that she saw the whole CBC one-hour program in which she could have seen that the contemporary Norval had not been able to utter a single word on camera.
Ms. Hatfield had even less excuse than anyone else for purposefully ignoring the obvious and disastrous mental decline of the painter on whose mental health she propounded with such Biblical fervor in court.
According to Hatfield’s own testimony, her own mother had been, for years, a tragic victim of Alzheimer’s, and like Morrisseau, was clearly and hugely, also, a victim, of Dementia.
I am absolutely certain she could give a heart-wrenching account of the progressive mental decline of her beloved mother, over many years, how she became totally incapable of looking after herself, and how she drifted off, into an unreachable void of mental collapse, and how for years she could no longer even recognize her own daughter and loving caregiver.
Dementia – Alzheimer’s – Stroke – Ms. Hatfield had obviously, personal and intimate knowledge about the horrific damage wrought on a loved one suffering from the debilitating diseases that can tragically attack older people.
During the stressful time in her life, related to her court action to “prove” that her “Wheel of Life 1979” painting was a fake, entirely imposed on her by diabolical Conspiracy Theorists who drew her into their web, and scared the bejeesus out of her by claiming she had wasted $10,000 on a fake Morrisseau, she also buried her mother who died after a lengthy bout with Alzheimer’s.
“We buried her May the 19th of 2009. She was at the – in the end stages of Alzheimer’s. It was very painful. This had gone on for years. So I was tending to Mom…” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: May 31, 2011 p 15)
Judge Martial heard from numerous Defence witnesses about Norval’s precipitous and parallel descent into his own private personal hell as his body hugely betrayed him in old age, as he had betrayed it, in his youth.
“It is common knowledge that he had various health issues, had a stroke, suffered from alcoholism and substance abuse, and in his later years had Alzheimer’s disease.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p1)
NOTE 1: The terms Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Alcohol Dementia, and Parkinson’s, are all related debilitating conditions that blend into each other across scientifically imprecise boundaries. In the public mind Alzheimers is a word that is often used to put a name on the terrible mental and physical decline in many old people.
NOTE 2: “Alzheimer’s is the most common form of Dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life and normal mental functioning. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of Dementia cases.” (Alz.org Alzheimer’s Association)
NOTE 3: This mélange of mental and physical debilitations were much worse for Norval, whose symptoms, bad enough by themselves, were hugely exacerbated by his decades of extreme drug and alcohol abuse.
It is statistically an overwhelmingly probability that Norval had Alzheimer’s, which the majority of Dementia patients have. And Norval certainly fit the bill for both conditions, in spades…
Clearly Norval was suffering from Dementia.
Dementia is not a specific disease but an overall term describing a variety of debilitating mental conditions that are associated with Parkinson’s, stroke, alcohol and substance abuse, all of which are hugely related and relevant to Norval Morrisseau.
A patient is considered to be suffering from clinical Dementia if there is significant impairment in two of the following core mental functions:
1 – memory
2 – communications and language
3 – ability to focus and pay attention
4- reasoning and judgment
5 – visual perception
In fact the testimonial evidence in court, sworn affidavits, witness observations, and video evidence (both media and privately published), and photographs, are overwhelming, that Norval was an extreme victim of Dementia in, not just the clinically requisite two, but ALL of those categories.
Parkinson’s attacked Norval in the early 1990s. He was diagnosed in 1996.
At least 30% of Parkinson’s patients develop Dementia as well.
And considering Norval’s decades of a no-holds-barred lifestyle involving over-the-top drug and alcohol abuse – related as we mentioned, to Dementia – his debilitated mental condition would have been no surprise to any doctor or to anyone else who knew his history or encountered him and observed him up close and personal.
The Scourge of Alcohol: Wolf Morrisseau’s Tragic Family Testimony – Morrisseau’s brother, Wolf, testified in court about the extreme toll that alcohol took on Norval and his family.
“A. Well, he was quite decadent; he enjoyed the luxuries of life. He didn’t really care about what anybody said or did; he just did what he thought was right. His alcoholism was quite detrimental to him and his health.
Q. Can you explain a little bit about that?
A. Well, being from an alcoholic family – my mom, my dad, all my aunties and uncles, they’re all dead because of alcohol – he drank to excess and what his demons were while he, if anybody that was listening to him when he was drunk, I couldn’t listen to him because it was too hard on me.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p108)
Recounted James Steven a friend of Norvals during the 1970s:
“Norval’s passionate outburst of painting in the early sixties was matched by his addiction to alcohol. Any kind of alcohol, from vanilla extract to various shaving lotions, served his need. There were many days Norval was walking in a mist. His paintings often went to people for little money, or groceries, or paint supplies or for affection toward a person.” (Stevens, Picasso, p61)
And of course, Norval had never stopped with alcohol. Recounted Carl Ray, another top Canadian artist, who in fact had painted most of Norval’s famous “Expo 67” mural for the Canadian government pavilion in Montreal:
“I was going out the door on my way to the Hudson Bay Store, N asked me to get some Aqua Velva shaving lotion. ‘What, a bottle’ I asked?’ ‘No. No. A case’ N replied. That night N drank the whole case.” (Stevens, Picasso, p121
On another occasion, in June 1970, in Sandy Lake, Ray Andrews who had brought Norval into town to teach art, told Stevens that he walked in on Norval busy entertaining the chief’s daughter. They were high on Morning Glory Perfume. When the chief and councilors heard about it they raised hell with Andrews.
And, on those occasions when the booze dried up, when the after shave was guzzled down, the last bottle of Morning Glory Perfume sloshed down, and the last swig of vanilla extract was swallowed, the last of the Listerine was lapped up, there was always the savage mixture called home brew. Beyond the basic ingredients, no one could tell who else added something extra to give it more punch, like maybe a can or three of Lysol cleaner…
Ray Andrews told Stevens of another incident with Norval, whom he had brought into town to teach art:
“I went to his house…There were people there bothering N and he told them ‘to go away for I’ll fuck all you men and you women.’ The place was a real mess. Norval was in pain. He had been drinking a homebrew made from yeast, sugar and raisins. He had even eaten the mash and had diarrhoea. He had shat all over the place. I cancelled the classes at the school.” (Stevens, Picasso, p121)
Norval’s alcoholic excesses broke social bonds. Norval’s friendship with Carl Ray was irretrievably broken after a motel owner in Kenora wrongly blamed Ray for the desecration actually committed by Norval, who during another drunken rage, shat in Ray’s motel room. (Stevens, Picasso, p42)
Seventeen years later, in February 1987, Norval was still at it, now living in a house in Jasper, Alberta, and fuelled by cases of shaving lotion, went wild, smashing walls and furniture and defecating on the floors. (Stevens, Picasso, p188)
This had been Norval’s drinking pattern since in the late 50s and early 1960s. Just how many decades can a human body take this kind of repeated abuse, before it stops functioning.
In fact, Wolf testified, that by 2001-2, his brother Norval confessed to him that his mind had gone, he couldn’t remember his past paintings, and that he had only minutes of lucidity, before he would “fade away.”
“… he basically said that he is no longer in any condition to have a viable understanding of what he had done because he had Parkinson’s; it was taking so much from him. He would become lucid and then all of a sudden he would begin to fade away… His lucidity lasted for about 20 minutes, 30 minutes at the most.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p116)
Norval’s Alcoholic (Alcohol-related) Dementia – Norval had been an ultra extreme alcoholic for decades, which made him the poster child candidate for “Alcohol-related Dementia” caused by long-term excessive drinking, resulting in neurological and brain cell damage. It’s a common cause of mental dysfunction.
Other related symptoms include:
– impaired planning, thinking, judgment – see Affidavits
– memory loss & impairment – see Hoffstein, Affidavits
– arm & leg motor damage & impairment – see LeBlanc video
– language impairment – see CBC
– apathy – see LeBlanc video
– failure to recognize or identify objects – see Christian, Travels
(Alcohol Dementia – Wikipedia)
“There are very few qualitative differences between alcohol dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and it is therefore difficult to distinguish between the two. Some of these warning signs may include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, poor or impaired judgment and problems with language. However the biggest indicator is friends or family members reporting changes in personality…”
“The onset and the severity of this type of dementia is directly correlated to the amount of alcohol that a person consumes over his or her lifetime.” (Alcohol Dementia – Wikipedia)
The Mental & Physical Damage Accelerates Exponentially – Now you have to figure in the fact of the additional damage done because Norval went far beyond drinking alcohol, and when none was available, gulped down caseloads of Aqua Velva shaving lotion, Morning Glory perfume, vanilla extract, Listerine mouth wash, and no doubt Lysol in aerosol containers, a favourite among down-and-out alcoholics, who usually punched in the bottom of the can and drained the contents.
Another favourite alcohol substitute, to get a buzz, in remote Aboriginal arctic and sub-arctic communities where I was school principal, was the plastic bottles of gas line anti-freeze or de-icer, that we all used to keep our skidoos running when temperatures of 30 and 40 below and colder, froze up the moisture in the carburetor and stopped our machines on remote hunting trips in the middle of nowhere. Stores stopped putting even small bottles of de-icer on the shelves because the abuse by alcoholics was so bad. It was available only to approved customers on “special order” from behind the counter from management at the request of the local RCMP and nursing staff. They picked up the bodies.
(One of my public school students passed out, after drinking God knows what, and froze to death in the schoolyard at 40 plus below in one town.)
And you could very well make a case that Norval drank more alcohol and substitutes in his life, than anyone else you can name or document. He had what it took to fuel his deadly appetite, both the money, and the need as an artist… And he indulged himself to extremes with a frenzy for some 40 plus years…
“Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a substance (drug) in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others.
“Use of these drugs may lead to criminal penalty in addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, both strongly depending on local jurisdiction. There are many cases in which criminal or antisocial behavior occur when the person is under the influence of a drug. Long term personality changes in individuals may occur as well.” (Wiki – Substance Abuse)
Oh, Puleeze…! In one of his publicity forays to help promote sales of Norval’s paintings at Kinsman Robinson Galleries in the 1990s, Donald Robinson pouted, with all the self-righteousness of a southern preacher, that Norval gave up drinking entirely in 1992. Norval was then 62 and just on the edge of collapsing permanently into his wheelchair from having failed to stop forty years earlier, when it would have made a difference. (Robinson, Return, 2005, Chronology)
Dope Fiend & Coke Head – Alas, after over 40 years of frenzied substance abuse – including marijuana and cocaine – it was then far too late to control or stop the damage to Norval’s mind and body. And the destruction to his work as an artist.
The Myths About the “Drunken Indian” – One of the biggest misconceptions white men have about Indians as big drinkers is that they drink because they are depressed and are drowning their sorrows because of the Third World conditions under which so many are living in Canada.
It was a loud argument I once had with the one-time Minister for Health – a personal friend – in the Government of the North West Territories, in the 1970s, when it was a huge unified territory that included both Indian and Inuit peoples.
He, then a GNWT Minister, but formerly a Toronto urbanite and graduate of Kingston’s Royal Military College, had never lived at all in any Aboriginal community, and customarily spouted the typical white man’s gibberish about Indian drinking that had no basis in fact or reality, or in my firsthand experience living in remote communities over many (six in all) years.
Natives (both Inuit and Indian), he propounded, in the typical politically correct liberal “knee-jerk” line favoured by “do-gooders,” had a lot of good reasons to drink, mainly to drown their sorrows in gallons of booze to forget the abject poverty and backwoods conditions in which they were forced to live in modern Canada.
My Life in Remote Northern Canadian Aboriginal Villages – I lived for six years in various far northern Canadian Aboriginal villages. For four years I lived in an isolated and remote Indian community of some 400 souls, routinely referred to by judges, lawyers, police, government administrators, and my white colleagues and friends, as “the worst community in the whole of the Northwest Territories.” Meaning for crime (including rape and murder), for alcoholism, for social breakdown, and for poverty. And this was when the NWT included both Dene and Inuit Peoples, before it was split into separate jurisdictions.
Yet I knew that every single Indian person who lived there was adamant that it was the best place to live in the world and, given the choice, they would never have chosen to live anywhere else on earth. And invariably, even the most educated ones who saw a chance to “get out” into the wider world of opportunity, often rejected that option and came back to live.
So contrary to the widely shared white myth, about Indian alcoholism, and the village in which I lived for four years, it was not a place that would drive any of them to drink. They returned there to relax and enjoy life, away from the stresses of urban life and the white racism that was often encountered away from home.
Those who lived in the remote village were wild in their praise for their community, which to many white men would supposedly be as good a reason as any, to get stinko drunk.
As a dutiful school principal, for years, I attended countless parties where the parents of students I taught were overly intoxicated, and came to see what a total fiction the myth about Aboriginal drinking was.
(And since you asked, No I did not drink at public parties. I was present, as head of the local school in two towns, to “show the flag” and to listen, so I could get a better insight into how to integrate the school more effectively with the adults in the local community. I managed to be quite sociable enough without the help of alcohol. My wife and I were invariably, the only whites in the place.
Apparently we did something right in a region in which staff relations between whites, Inuit, and Indians were often rancorous at best and schools and teachers were often openly racist. In the first Inuit school we taught the staff room was openly segregated between Inuit teachers and whites. In the next (Inuit) school where I was principal, the Director of Education gushed that I had the best staff relations of any school in the entire Northwest Territories, which included both Inuit and Dene regions at the time.
In the second (Dene) school, where I was principal, the Indian chief took a petition around the town to sign up support for keeping my wife and me on, when education officials wanted to move us out after three years – already an unprecedented length – fearing that maybe we were “going Indian” and getting “bushed.” The chief and community won; we stayed on for another year in the town that had the reputation as the “worst” in the entire Territories. When we left a year later the Superintendant of the region was completely blown away by the huge variety of teaching aids, books, and sports equipment, we had stuffed the school with during our four years there.)
Those Indians who drank, did so first because of history: it was learned behaviour from the leaders of white society with whom they first came into contact: the fur traders and store managers of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Many native people soon learned that partying and drinking went hand in hand for those who were successful leaders of white society.
(Try and find a single scene in the multiple Emmy award-winning “Mad Men,” in which sophisticated urban white men in suits, at the top of their profession, are not either drinking or pouring a drink for themselves or each other, both at work and at home.)
In fact, the biggest booze hounds in remote pioneer Canadian fur trade posts were the Bay men who found the stuff worked wonders with Indian girls. In fact the pattern persisted into the 1970s in the Canadian north. White men drink – a lot – in private and keep Aboriginals out; Aboriginals drink publicly and share with anyone who happens by. In 2013, all the evidence I have seen suggests, overwhelmingly, that the reprehensible social and medical conditions I witnessed, persist with a vengeance unchanged to this day.
The worst social gaucherie I ever encountered, in many years of living in remote Canadian Aboriginal villages, was done by an inebriated white Bay man, the manager of a Co-op store who was at a multi-cultural party in our (the principal’s) house. In a moment of degenerate abandon, like a fireman with his hose, he sprayed the walls, the counter, the towels, and the toothbrushes of our bathroom with his piss.
The social atrocity was pointed out to me by my Aboriginal teaching assistant – whose young children (then) still bring their own kids to visit us in Toronto nearly forty years later – who took me down to the bathroom to see the carnage.
I still recall with emotion, her earnest voice as she said in disgust, “No Indian ever did that!”
She was right; a white community role model did it.
A couple of years later when I moved to Yellowknife, it was common knowledge that a leading white lawyer, who was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct, defecated (shat) in the back of the police cruiser to show his contempt for cops…
With role models like these…
Drinking I came to see, in Aboriginal communities, had nothing to do with being a tool to escape poverty or depression. Drinking – like in TV’s “Mad Men” – was a status symbol and a desirable social activity, in villages, rarely in the bush.
In fact, in my experience, the biggest drinkers and biggest bootleggers in the three different Aboriginal villages where I lived were, invariably, the top Aboriginal leaders in the community, with the steadiest jobs and the biggest pay cheques.
With their income they could afford to host the biggest and wildest parties in town, where booze was the main attraction, was free and shared, and no invitations were necessary, because when you’re “parading your success and status” the more observers the better. (This is the same as in urban “white” society where throwing parties – they call them galas – and where the booze flows free, is a big status symbol.)
Likewise the biggest “parties” occurred when a raft of government cheques hit town, or on pay day from fire-fighting, or other seasonal work.
In fact the most wretchedly poor in the communities – supposedly the ones with the most reason to drink, so the white man’s reasoning went – were not the biggest boozers, but often the most sober. Hell, they couldn’t afford to get drunk.
I never heard of an Aboriginal person who sat and drank alone, as is common, in fact and fiction, by white people as they nurse themselves through a personal depression with booze, alone at the bar, or in a hotel room.
Drinking: Norval’s Take – White men who meant the best for Norval always tried to get him to straighten out his “alcohol problem” as they incessantly called it. Pollock did it; journalists did it; even his early mentors, who should have known better, like Dr. Weinstein who lived for some time among Aboriginals, misdiagnosed it and denounced it.
White men just could not realize that Norval “needed” booze to create his art – he got inspired when hammered – and Norval “wanted” booze as badge of his success. By denouncing his boozing, white men were trying to rob him first, of his creative power as an artist, and secondly, of his right to flaunt his success among the people who counted in his universe.
Norval summed up the reality about his so-called “alcohol problem” to James Stevens, who quoted him in his book.
“See, sometimes I think I have been studying this problem for a long time – my drinking problem. The only thing I could ever suggest is that it is a status symbol. The white man wants two Cadillac’s in his garage; he wants a big house, a big barn. And the Indian wants a big quart! That’s my status symbol! You know that! With that I’m happy and if the white man doesn’t like me that way – the hell with him. All I want is my own self.” (Stevens, Picasso p64)
Variations of that statement I heard from many people in the years I lived and worked in remote Canadian Aboriginal villages.
And the more there was to drink, the higher the status, to prove that one had “arrived.”
“My idea of a sociable drink is a forty ponder (ouncer – ed) of rye.” (Norval quoted by Roy Thomas to James Stevens, Picasso of the North, p93)
“After a big drunk I do much better work, and which I do because I’m trying to build myself up again, build myself, and I paint the most marvelous art…” (Norval Morrisseau, quoted “Life and Times,” Carvalho)
Lisa Morrisseau commented on her father, Norval, and the life path he took for himself c 1971. “My parents split when I was about 3 years old… the price of fame and cash took her husband and our father away. he drifted into that kind of life. it fueled his alcoholic addiction to the fullest…” (Lisa Morrisseau Facebook May 13, 2013).
Pollock Meets Norval (1962) on the Threshold of Fame – “… the door opened and in walked this tall, young Indian man, aged around thirty. He was disgusting – drunk and he had pissed his pants – and he had a roll of birch bark and paper under his arm… I looked at him and I looked at them and I thought – he didn’t paint them! Not this disheveled, unkempt creature.” (Pollock – Dear M, p38)
1962 – The Party in Red Lake – After the huge success of Norval’s first showing in Toronto at the Pollock Gallery in 1962, Norval took his huge wad of cash back to Red Lake to show off his success to the locals and threw a huge party floating in booze.
“Later I got news from Susan Ross that Norval had been handing all this money around and the entire native community was drunk. Two Indians had got so drunk they had lain down in the middle of a road in the fog and had been run over and killed.” (Dear M – Jack Pollock p41)
Village Alcohol Blow-out: No urban white can possibly have a clue about what Pollock is talking about. This is not at all comparable to “Oh I know what you mean about Norval. Uncle Jimmy’s the same; he had way too much to drink at Christmas.”
Drinking parties in remote Canadian Aboriginal villages are not private dos like they tend to be among whites, but community affairs. As a result, the partying grows exponentially, finally engulfing men, women, and children in one giant alcoholic blow-out.
In one village of 400 people where I was principal, I visited a captain of the tug whose barge had just delivered the community’s annual supply of fuel, vehicles, food supplies, and building materials. From the bridge of his ship he had a fine view of the village stretched out on the hillside above him.
There happened to be a major drinking session going on in town when he arrived.
What he witnessed clearly floored him. As he told me, “I couldn’t believe it. I saw three different groups of people in different parts of the town all fighting at the same time! Can you even conceive of anything like that? Absolutely unbelievable!”
He didn’t need to tell me how extreme it was. During the evening I had been sitting in the living room of the community’s lone RCMP officer. He was suited for action, wearing his gun, and was a bit pissed himself thanks to the stress of the situation he found himself in.
He was frankly hiding, because he was scared shitless, and refused to go out on call. He ignored the incessant jangling of the phone from some desperate soul who wanted his help. And he also refused to answer the frequent pounding on the door and yelling for help from a panicking woman or desperate child on the other side. And who could blame him?
Finally, pushed beyond the limit, and to show he was up to the job, he suddenly jumped to his feet, pulled out his revolver and waved it in the air shouting, “I’m going out right now and kill me some fucking Indians.” His wife told him to “shut up and sit down.” He did, and holstered his gun. It was a classic case of discretion being the better part of valour. And the phone kept ringing and the pounding on the door went on.
A Boy is Stabbed – It reminded me, of months before, during the first week I was in town, when one of my students was stabbed to death, by accident during a drunken party resulting in a fight over a woman. The killer – the chief’s son – thought his protagonist was attacking him from behind a moving curtain, and struck back with his knife. It killed 10 year old Frankie who was hiding there to escape the booze-fueled tumult around him. It would be the first grave I helped dig out of the sub-arctic permafrost.
For our purposes it shows the unimaginably colossal amount of booze that was drunk by individuals like Norval Morrisseau, on a regular basis, and how, as a result, Alcohol Dementia has cut a devastating swath through Canada’s northern Aboriginal communities. And this is the alcoholic lifestyle that Norval embraced with a passion for over forty years.
And the cost, as Norval’s brother, Wolf, told Judge Martial, was colossal.
“Well, being from an alcoholic family – my mom, my dad, all my aunties and uncles, they’re all dead because of alcohol.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p108)
1973-74 – The NFB Film – In fact the film the National Film Board shot on Norval in Kenora, in the mid-1970s, clearly shows Norval was quite inebriated during the filming, and that, later, the editor had a nightmare time cutting his interview shots to try to hide the fact.
Note: Filming Norval was always a disaster for anyone who tried, because he was always incapacitated, either because of booze (NFB 1973) or Dementia (LeBlanc 2002, CBC 2003). Which is, presumably, exactly why his own white handlers in the seventeen (17) years they manipulated him, never tried to make a film on Canada’s top Aboriginal artist. Far from it, they turned him into the “Hidden Indian and the “Dumb Indian, whenever a TV camera journalist threatened to come near.
Clearly the NFB producer, coming to make a film of Norval, arrived to find him constantly drunk. He had two choices: go home without filming, or shoot something and hope the editor back home would snip out clips that wouldn’t betray behaviour his (white) audience would find disgraceful.
To many people he succeeded. To me, as a professional cameraman, editor, and film and television producer for some 40 years, it’s transparently easy to see his problem shots and that the cutting was done, not for filming pacing and storytelling, but only to hide the embarrassment of an inebriated subject.
The Carnage Left Along the “Alcohol Trail” – The carnage booze left in its wake, in Canadian Aboriginal villages, is real enough. I was shown bullet holes in a living room wall from bullets that were fired at someone during one party.
As school principal I went to many funerals resulting from alcohol abuse leading to: drownings, shootings, knifings, freezing, boating and skidoo accidents. I helped dig numerous graves; I was a pall bearer; I attended wakes.
I even ferried the coffin containing one of my students to the cemetery with my skidoo and sled. She was a teenager, Ruthie, who was shot at a drunken party in Yellowknife, when a white man went nuts and shot four Indians to death. Her grief-stricken Dad asked me to take her to the cemetery the morning of her funeral. We then spent the day digging her grave out of the icy sub-arctic permafrost.
In the six years I lived in remote Aboriginal communities in the Canadian north I attended more funerals of people I knew well – by far – than in all the rest (67 more years) of my life. Many were my students.
When I returned years later to another remote (Inuit) community in which I had taught for a year, I visited the graveyard. Lots of my grade 5 and 6 students were there. Who never made it to voting age…
The deaths, the suicides, etc., are the result of ripple effects from alcohol and substance abuse from excessive partying with booze. And so are the alcohol damaged children that both natives and non-natives, can point out in every community, born to mothers who drank to excess during their pregnancies.
They are the result of economic growth and expansion, of new jobs, and more cash coming into remote villages. They are from increasing disposable income, not from living in a deprived community or society.
They are predictably what happens when fat paychecks from new jobs end up in the hands of people still overwhelmingly ruled and motivated by the “boom or bust” subsistence way of thinking, i.e. “sharing.” Consume it all today; tomorrow you may not have anything.
Booze & Paint Just Don’t Mix – For some forty years at least, Norval had continued to drink excessively and partied as often as he had money. As Norval told anyone who would listen: “to get drunk is the most beautiful thing there is.” (Globe 2007)
But, progressively, his body and mind began to break down and betray him, as early as the 1970s.
No wonder that by the end of the 1980s friends reported he was also losing his power as an artist.
Said Lloyd Comber c 1987, “I noticed that his art wasn’t as good as it used to be.” (Stevens, Picasso p193)
And it explains why most knowledgeable Morrisseau experts and collectors refuse to buy art from Norval Morrisseau’s “wheelchair invalid period” from the early 1990s on.
“I have always told people, if you have work from the 60s, you’re laughing to the bank, the 70s, OK, but into the late 80s, questions, 90s and on, anything goes…”
– Gail Fikis, Registrar, Thunder Bay Art Gallery,1983-2007
But Norval wouldn’t have agreed.
Even in old age Norval refused to reform, taking pains to straighten out Macleans journalist John Geddes in the summer of 2003, when, he with his typical white man’s misconceptions prodded Norval about his “alcohol problem.” Gabe Vadas was there to “interpret” for Norval since Geddes had a hard time getting Norval to say anything much other than short garbled phrases. But not when Geddes brought up Norval’s so-called “booze problem.”
“About his struggles with alcohol, though, he sucks in breath and gasps out his longest reply: “I’d do it all over again. I’d have a better approach. I’d really get drunk.” (John Geddes, Macleans, Jan 26, 2004)
But Norval didn’t stop, merely with decades of alcohol excess; Stevens recounts stories of Norval drinking cases of after shave, and perfume, and no doubt cleaning solvents like Lysol, when alcohol was gone or not available.
Lysol Under Lock & Key – As a principal charged with safe-guarding school supplies in a remote Aboriginal village, I had to put the biggest lock of all on the ware-house where the school’s cleaning supplies were stored, including cases of Lysol, the cleaning solvent our janitor used. Lysol – and Magic Markers – were the target of all school break-ins over the years by people with the urge to party and with no money to buy “safe” consumable alcohol.
I recall filming the village tribal festivities at Caribou Carnival time on the ice in front of the village, as two young men in their twenties and thirties, on a skidoo and sled came up. With my Bolex I got a great shot of them approaching and passing, as they waved cheerfully at me.
I learned later, they had used the distraction of the festivities to break into the school ware-house from where they made off with all my cases of Lysol. I had apparently filmed them as they were fleeing the scene of the crime; the stolen booty was actually in the very sled I filmed as they went by me, cheerfully, on the way to their own Lysol party.
Almost 40 years later I see their grinning faces yet; both died young, long before their time…
What accelerator effect would drinking Morning Glory perfume and cleaning solvents in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, have had on Norval’s Alcohol Dementia by 1990?
In addition Norval was a huge substance abuser (my white man characterization which Norval would disagree with), over many decades. What contributing debilitating accelerator effect did this have on Norval’s state of mind?
Norval’s Strokes – Strokes can greatly impair mental functions and affect motor skills of arms, legs, head, and tongue. Norval had strokes in 1994 and 1997, all accelerating the deterioration of brain cells that were already damaged by his lifetime of excessive alcohol and substance abuse, much of it learned, as he grew up, from his elders. As Norval’s brother Wolf testified, their parents and uncles and aunts had all died of it.
Norval’s Parkinson’s & Related Dementia – As he aged, Norval was in the final stages of Parkinson’s. According to the medical literature, at least 30% of Parkinson’s patients also suffer parallel associated Dementia.
The Case of the Hidden Indian – It all led to, and explains, the “Hiding of Norval Morrisseau.”
It all goes a long way towards explaining – big time – a huge mystery of the 1990s and early 2000s: why did the white businessmen scrabbling for a place around Norval’s wheelchair refuse to produce even a single video of any kind showing Norval Morrisseau talking on any subject, or even painting during the last ten years of his life?
In fact the videos of Norval, that were taken by independent, non-Conspiracy Theorist witnesses at this time – when Norval was kidnapped by his family from out of the control of his white “care-givers,” for a few months in 2001-2002 – show Norval to be mentally, little more than a vegetable, and being easily manipulated into signing anything at all, with no mental involvement by him at all.
A single look at the LeBlanc video will be all the explanation you will ever need. It is the first public exposure in years of Norval – the longtime Hidden Indian – “interacting” with someone. (See Leblanc Video)
The devastating sign-posts of Norval’s Dementia and Parkinson’s are very visible and easy to diagnose. And not very helpful for someone trying to sell new paintings by an aging painter who has so many hugely visible and obvious signs of various accelerating debilitating mental and physical conditions.
An artist who can’t talk; an artist who can’t hold a brush without shaking; an artist who can’t reach further forward than his lap; in short, an artist who can’t paint or communicate. In fact who often appears to be little more than a vegetable.
Revising History; How the “Keeper” was “Kept”: Gabe Vadas and his wife Michele have been credited by Conspiracy Theorists with “taking care of Norval” in his declining years, and were claimed to be his “primary care givers” since 1990.
The truth is something entirely different. It was Norval’s money – and only HIS money – from his paintings which, from 1987 to 2007, supported the Vadas family. They had no other means of income – Gabe was a derelict street-person, with no education or marketable skills of any kind, when Norval took him in. Gabe’s subsequent houses and boats, his bank accounts, ALL came from sales of Norval’s paintings.
AND ALL THIS INCOME CAME FROM GABE VADAS’ RUTHLESSLY EXERCISING NORVAL’S POWER OF ATTORNEY, OVER WHICH HE ASSUMED POWER ON APR. 24, 1990. (source: Defence for Vadas in Otavnik v Vadas (for Morrisseau)
In 2001 the Vadas family dumped Norval in a terminal care facility, and refused access to him by outsiders, journalists, and even Norval’s family.
Again, it was all paid for by the public purse and again, by Norval’s money while the Vadas family then ruthlessly exercised Norval’s Power of Attorney to advance their business activities with Norval’s paintings.
In 2007, when Norval died he had nothing; the Vadas’ owned it all: houses, boats, bank accounts, paintings.***
(*** In fact Vadas has secretly shipped 384 paintings (the notorious KR384) to store for “safe-keeping” to Donald Robinson’s basement in Toronto, where they would remain, unknown to Norval, unknown to his family, or the public, until two years after Norval died, when that “greedy white man” Vadas took them back. They were worth from twenty to forty million dollars.) (Transcripts: Hatfield v Child 2011-2013)
Norval’s children were disowned totally in Norval’s last will, forcing the children to go to court against the claims of the Vadas family.=Does anyone believe that Norval was in any condition to actually even know what the hell the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society was?
Norval’s obvious and numerous physical and mental disabilities can go a long way to explaining why Norval was hidden by his white “care-givers” for years, both from the public and his family, and never produced for video interviews.
With his dying breath the white guys around him propped him up in bed for a final signing session. Frankly, I don’t believe this is even Norval’s signature. Compare it to the way Norval signed the Jim White Appraisal in May 2001. When you see how utterly degraded that was, you can see why this solid signature, after seven years more of Dementia and Parkinson’s, we say Norval, like Lazarus, has made a stunning Biblical recovery…
The CBC “Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau” – Norval was never put before journalists without his interpreter and spokesman Gabe Vadas doing the talking and interpreting for him, as he did in the CBC program, shot in 2003 and 2004, where the producer could not get Norval to speak a single word for the camera for the one-hour documentary on his life. The “Life & Times” series was produced to honour accomplished Canadians.
By 2003, white guys had to do ALL the talking for Norval… he was so far gone…
In fact ALL the live shots the CBC producer was able to get of Norval – mostly, comatose, being pushed around in his wheelchair – make one thing absolutely clear: Norval does not recognize anyone, does not interact with, or focus on anyone, in any way whatsoever. Clearly these shots are devastating proof that “there is nobody home at the Morrisseau residence.”
The only close-up zoom on Norval is cut off, mercifully when it becomes clear Norval is completely unresponsive and uncommunicative even when a camera is jammed in his face.
As a longtime film and television editor, I can instantly spot an act of mercy, when the editor chooses to cut off the zoom before the embarrassing truth becomes more than normal viewers can bear: the obvious fact that Norval is little more than a vegetable being carted around, like a sack of potatoes, for business promotion. Clearly Norval is nothing, if not a victim of elder abuse, by the white businessmen scrabbling for a place around his wheelchair.
Note: This is at exactly the same time as the first Affidavits of Forgery, complete with hundreds of images of so-called fakes, bearing Norval’s name, were made up and issued to the main business competitors of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries. Supposedly the images were sleuthed out and compiled by Norval who apparently spent his time in terminal care surfing the internet looking for forgeries of his art…
Norval: the Virtual Quadriplegic – Ms. Hatfield, in her own testimony, and blatantly ignoring her own experience with Dementia, was now pontificating about a man who at that time, had had inarguably the most abused body and mind of any leading Canadian personality in history.
And was displaying ALL the classical tell-tale symptoms of anyone suffering from extreme Dementia.
Dementia: the Descent into a Private Hell – The debris trail left by Norval Morrisseau’s Dementia is clear and devastatingly obvious to anyone who has bothered to examine the record.
Losing it… The Physical, Mental, & Artistic Decline of Norval Morrisseau
For Years, Incapable of Intelligible Speech – A typical obituary press announcement said what was obvious to all those who had had personal access to Norval Morrisseau in the last ten years of his life: “Norval passed away… after a long battle with Parkinson’s. He had suffered two strokes and spent much of his last years in a wheelchair, incapable of intelligible speech.” Journalist Rick Garrick was quoting Norval’s brother Ronald for many of his facts. (Anishinabek News, Rick Garrick, Dec. 2007)
Had Ms. Hatfield practiced “due diligence” she could have read many other similar articles about a man she claimed was all-seeing, all-knowing, and fully mentally engaged and capable of communicating truthful specifics about her very own painting, “Wheel of Life 1979” which he had presumably painted some 30 years before, in 1979.
1970s – Norval’s Body Betrays His Sexual Ability – In fact Norval’s body had started to shut down years before: in the 1970s he was already complaining to James Stevens of a marked decline in sexual function. This was a devastating worry for a man who was only in his forties, and who had for decades gloried in his sexual excesses with women and underage girls, preferably men, and often young boys. He told Stevens:
“I’ve experienced it all, bestiality, animals, homosexuality, men, heterosexuality, women. The only thing I’ve never fucked is a turtle.” Then we both broke out laughing at the outrageousness of his comment.” (Stevens, Picasso p158)
1987 – Noticeable Decline of Artistic Power– Friends noticed a parallel decline in Norval’s ability as an artist in the late 1980s.
Said Lloyd Comber, a friend from the old days, c 1987, “I noticed that his art wasn’t as good as it used to be.” (Stevens, Picasso p193)
Others saw a decline as well.
And it explains why most knowledgeable Morrisseau experts and collectors refuse to buy art from Norval Morrisseau’s “wheelchair invalid period of painting” from the 1990s on.
“I have always told people, if you have work from the 60s, you’re laughing to the bank, the 70s, OK, but into the late 80s, questions, 90s and on, anything goes…”
– Gail Fikis, Registrar, Thunder Bay Art Gallery,1983-2007
1990 – Norval’s “Wheelchair Invalid Period of Painting” Begins
Lloyd Comber’s observation that Norval’s art was markedly inferior in 1987, to what it had been in his prime is entirely expected, of an aging artist who had spent over forty years of constant binge drinking of alcohol, perfume, and cleaners, and going overboard with substance abuse.
It is common sense that both his mental and physical decline, and his abilities as an artist, were progressive, and so started years before Comber made his observation in 1987.
Generally knowledgeable people in the Morrisseau fine art market, echo Fikis’ cautionary, that Norval’s art went into freefall after the late 1980s. And to beware of what you are being offered, if it was supposedly painted after that by an obviously hugely deteriorated artist.
1989 – The Burrowsseau Period Begins – So the evidence is clear and documented that Norval’s decline was also noticed by the white businessmen scrabbling for a place around Norval’s wheelchair, and which is why during exactly this period they started to hire contract painters to “in-paint for Norval.” First only a bit, then more and more as he declined.
Karl Burrows is the only one who has publicly confessed, big time, of painting both partial and complete paintings that were then allegedly sold as purported Morrisseaus by Norval’s business partners.
It’s up to you to figure out how much of any painting you have bought from Norval’s “wheelchair invalid period” was, in fact, painted by Morrisseau – if any – and how much by Burrows who was hired to do this work from 1989 on.
1990 – Norval’s Early Need for Primary Caregivers – Donald Robinson, in his 2005 re-issue of his 1997 book “Travels to the House of Invention,” has updated the chronology with a backdated and telling entry for 1990, by which Robinson is, unwittingly, passing a devastating judgment on the diminished physical and mental capacity and abilities of his artist at that time.
“1990 – Moves to White Rock, British Columbia, with Gabe, his wife, Michele, and family. Gabe and Michele act as primary caregivers and business managers .” (“Return to the House of Invention” KRG, p 156.)
In 2005 Robinson is, embarrassingly, working overtime to praise Gabe and Michele, whom he had both totally ignored in his 1997 edition of “Travels to the House of Invention.” Why would he now feel the need to make the change?
In the 2005 re-issue of the book, renamed “Return to the House of Invention,” where he made virtually no textual changes at all, he loudly squeezed in his praising comments about the Vadas duo, into both his text and into his chronology. It was something he did for no one else, which includes his sometime business associate, Ritchie Sinclair, who does not get a single mention of any kind in either edition. Make that not a word… relating to the white man who styles himself “Norval’s designated Protégé.”
Thus, as late as 2005, Donald Robinson regarded Ritchie Sinclair – who is documented as apparently having a brief “relationship” with Norval in 1979-80 – as an absolute “nobody” in the painting history of Norval Morrisseau, the man and his art of which he claimed to be the world expert.
Note: This was four years after Robinson alleged “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers,” and three years before Sinclair was to sign on to Robinson’s Conspiracy Theory, and launch his malicious and defamatory website posting 1,000 so-called forgeries. In fact Sinclair, far from denouncing these paintings for a full eight years after Robinson announced them, praised them, online in various websites, as “masterpieces of Norval Morrisseau.” Many were, in fact, the exact same paintings he suddenly reversed himself on, years later, calling them fakes, forgeries, and “inferior counterfeits”. Sinclair’s wild mental gyrations can, of course, be accounted for by the fact that he was only a school drop-out who has no degrees, credentials, diplomas, or certificates of any kind in art from any institution of learning.
In fact nowhere in any academic literature or media article of any kind is there mention of Ritchie Sinclair as being in any way a factor in any part of Norval’s artistic life. His name is never published. Though there is lots of evidence that, as a young man, he was very briefly, an important part, at various times, of Norval’s private life.
Sinclair’s preposterous self-invention as a Morrisseau protégé imposter and Indian impersonator is covered in detail on Ugo Matulic’s exhaustively researched and documented website. (MATULIC BLOG)
Why Re-editing Can be Profitable – The reason I believe Robinson is so obviously seeking to ingratiate himself with Gabe and Michele Vadas was, because at the time he wrote the additional praising lines for them in “Return” in 2005, he had been “safekeeping” for Gabe 384 (that’s 384) of Norval’s paintings in his basement, for almost five years, and would be doing so for two more years after Norval’s death. That’s a fantastic hoard of some twenty to forty million dollars worth of Morrisseau art. That’s enough to make anyone’s mouth water…
I believe Robinson saw re-editing the text of his first edition as a good business move. When Norval dies Gabe will have it all, millions worth of paintings – to sell… through an art dealer… who usually charges 40% or so. It looked like a profitable favour…
Through Robinson saying the Vadas’ were the “primary care-givers” in 1990, made the Vadas couple preen gratefully to be recognized in print. But mindlessly Robinson forgot that it was at the cost of him downgrading Norval Morrisseau’s physical and mental ability, both as an artist and a reliable chronicler of his art heritage. Norval’s overall decline was clearly such that he needed a “primary care-giver” as early as 1990, according to Robinson.
1990 – Norval Gives up his Power of Attorney to Gabe Vadas – Powerful corroborating proof of Norval’s decline – mental, physical, and businesswise – necessitating that the Vadases take over as “primary caregivers” in 1990 – as Robinson makes clear above – is further underlined – big time – by the fact that in the same year Norval was encouraged to sign off to make Gabe Vadas “the attorney for property for Mr. Morrisseau pursuant to a Power of Attorney dated April 24, 1990.”
Powers of Attorney can be set up anytime, but only come into force on the day they are signed, and when a subject believes he is no longer capable of managing his own personal, health, business, or financial affairs.
IT MEANS THAT AS OF APRIL 24, 1990, GABE VADAS – AND HIS WHITE BUSINESS ASSOCIATES – DONALD ROBINSON, MICHELE VADAS, BRYANT ROSS, LAWYER AARON MILRAD, KARL BURROWS – HAD COMPLETE AND TOTAL CONTROL OVER ALL NORVAL’S FINANCES AND PAINTING PRODUCTION AND SALES, AND ANY BUSINESS INITIATIVES THEY FELT LIKE MAKING TO IMPROVE THEIR SELLING OF HIS ART.
Put another way: THE DUMB INDIAN WAS OUT OF THE LOOP OF ALL THAT WAS TO HAPPEN IN THE YEARS TO COME.
1993 – Norval’s Parkinson’s – In the early 1990s Norval’s body and limb movements became plagued by the progressively debilitating disease that means death to a painter who can no longer hold his hands steady. Parkinson’s is often also accompanied by Dementia which attacks a person’s mental capacity and undermines brain function and the ability to remember.
1993 – Legal “Cease & Desist” letter to Joe McLeod – Just as Norval’s infirmities were becoming evident, and both damaging and reducing his output, his white business managers targeted Joe McLeod, the leading Morrisseau expert of the day.
By wielding Gabe Vadas’ Power of Attorney, 1993 became the very first time that Norval’s white business managers launched a legal threat against an art dealer, Joseph McLeod, charging him NOT WITH SELLING FORGERIES, but with copyright violations, that is, making copies of his genuine Morrisseau paintings and reproducing them as small illustrative pics in his sales catalogues.
Early Conspiracy Alert – This egregious and unprecedented attack on McLeod and his sales catalogues – it never happened to anyone before in history or after – clearly exposed and brought out into the open, with a vengeance, the “greedy white men” syndrome that motivated the Conspiracy Theorists long before there were fakes of any kind alleged by anyone… But their rapacious greed was in full display, all ramped up by Vadas’ Power of Attorney.
When this nefarious practice failed they would move to business plan number two, “Hell, let’s just call them all fakes, and cover up our greedy motivations with a patina of respectability by saying we’re interested in protecting Norval…”
This was clearly an early threat of a SLAPP suit designed to scare KRG’s major Morrisseau business competitor for following a practice that continues to this day to be universally carried out by all reputable art galleries and auction houses around the world.
But the art cartel targeted McLeod for copying real Morrisseaus since he obviously was not selling fakes.
Reminder – Remember that McLeod would always be the main target of the Conspiracy Theorists. Still it wouldn’t be until ten long years later, in 2003, that they would up the ante, accusing him not of copyright violations but of now suddenly selling scores of Morrisseau forgeries…
It’s nothing if not a completely preposterous allegation!
Even on the surface, it’s a completely ludicrous charge at best: why would a formerly respected academic, and latterly Canada’s longest serving, most experienced, and most reputable Morrisseau expert, who had been selling genuine works of the artist since 1960, now 44 years later, suddenly start selling forgeries? And now in his eighties, risk damaging his reputation and that of his business with such a lowlife activity?
For the Conspiracy Theory to work, the leading expert in the field had to be hamstrung or disabled in some way, so people would stop trusting him as they had since 1960.
To make way for the Conspiracy Theorists to put forth their own candidate as the top expert, Donald Robinson.
By 2013 Donald Robinson and his group would have manipulated three different gullibly and witless proxies (Hatfield, Hearn, & McDermott) to launch allegations of forgeries against the man who had been selling Morrisseaus longer, by far, than anyone else in history, and still maintains cordial relations with Norval’s family to this day, at the age of 84.
1994 – Norval’s First Stroke – Norval had the first of two debilitating strokes in 1994 – a second would follow in 1997 – to add to his Parkinson’s and Dementia disabilities.
Robinson goes out of his way to minimize Norval’s life-threatening and mentally and physically disabling medical conditions. It is understandable because he has a personal business interest in having his potential clients believe his artist is in tip top painting shape – physically and mentally – and so responsible for ALL of the new canvases KRG is selling.
(Something loudly and publicly challenged by Karl Burrows who says he was hired to “fill-in” paint for Norval in 1989, and that he would continue to paint parts of or complete canvases for the Morrisseau cartel until Norval died.)
Robinson tellingly, does not mention Norval’s strokes, at all, in his 1997 “Travels to the House of Invention” though he had had two by then… Could it be that he deliberately omitted them because he probably didn’t want to alarm collectors, who obviously would wonder how a guy in a wheelchair, suffering from strokes and whatnot else, could keep painting so vigorously and produce so many huge canvases? Which Kinsman Robinson Galleries was selling, in unending numbers for years after Norval was placed in terminal care…
In his 2005 re-issue of “Return to the House of Invention” Robinson mentions only one stroke, and then goes completely overboard and is embarrassingly and patently self-serving saying:
“1994 – Suffers a minor stroke which does not affect his painting arm. Makes a good recovery.” (“Return” 2005, KRG, p 156)
Really! Sounds more like hype dreamed up by the publicity department of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries trying to promote their uncontrollably shaking wheelchair artist.
A new study, by a University of Montreal team of researchers, concluded that: “There’s no such thing as a mild and harmless stroke.”
“People who have mild strokes may live with hidden maladies, including depression, vision problems, and difficulty thinking.” (The Atlantic, Annie Rochette, U of Montreal, Oct 3, 2011)
All are things that that are documented as grossly bedeviling Norval in his “wheelchair invalid period of painting.”
All, mental and physical deteriorations that are – Robinson’s claims notwithstanding – devastating for an artist, trying to paint new work, or recall works that he had painted in the past.
DISCLOSURE: Totally Disabled by a Stroke
For a couple of frightening hours I lived inside the private nightmare world of Norval Morrisseau’s mind, as he once did, after the first of his two strokes, in 1994. I do not wish the experience on my worst enemy. Believe me, a stroke is very, very scary, especially when, after a couple of hours, it shows no sign of letting go its fiendish grip…
As I was to experience, a stroke progressively disables, and awfully distorts and destroys, in turn one physical and mental ability after another:
– physical ability & muscular dexterity
– cognition & comprehension
– verbal ability & language
As a chronicling historian and as an investigative journalist, I decided my personal experience gave me a rare, unprecedented insight, and matchless credibility, in reporting on how exactly the specifics of this part of Norval’s debilitating condition, affected him physically, mentally, and artistically, from at least as early as 1994 on… and very likely, years earlier.
Out of Nowhere! While putting the finishing touches on this article, I took a break to watch Mulcair question Harper during Question Period.
Suddenly there was a slight throbbing stab in my left temple. Within ten minutes neither politician made sense anymore… not even MulcaIr’s public school simple, short questions…
Then the right side of the TV screen became totally blurry; I could make out no talking head. I looked down at my legs extended out on a stool. I could only make out the left one; the right one had totally disappeared in a blur. When my wife came in I looked at her; her left side of the face, eye and all, from the nose across had disappeared in a blur. I said nothing.
I tried to follow Mulcair’s ultra simple questions. I could no longer understand them. I could not even repeat them because I had lost my cognitive powers. Not knowing what he was saying I could not form the words he had just clearly repeated for me.
Worse than that, the vocabulary and sounds that made them up in English, were now beyond my mouth muscles to form and my brain to recognize and organize in a meaningful order. Garbled sounds, pretending to be words, were all that came out of my mouth, in a slow guttural drawl that sounded like they came out of an echo chamber.
Having now lost my physical ability to form words and make sentences, I could not communicate anything to anyone. The advancing stroke had incapacitated me with another dismaying disability.
I decided to test my memory. As a folk singer going back to the fifties, I knew scores of song lyrics. Now, suddenly felled by a stroke, I could not recall or remember a single lyric or title to any song. I fought with everything that was in me to remember a single song lyric to recite. I could not remember nor utter a single opening line. I couldn’t even, off the cuff, like everyone can, at the drop of a hat, just start singing any old lyrics for a line or two. It was impossible…
Hundreds of verses, learned over many years, and that I could sing only minutes before were suddenly completely gone somewhere and totally unavailable to me. I might get started on three or four words then suddenly totally stall out or fall apart in gibberish… Against a brick wall, my memory was completely blocked out.
It was just like a computer virus suddenly had disabled your hard drive and all once stored there.
My memory going back decades had totally evaporated, collapsed, disappeared.
I picked up a book to try to read something. I literally could not. My mind refused to absorb a single phrase or sentence. My mouth just tried to follow out loud with utter gibberish. Cognitively, I could not tell whether I was reading a cook book or a toilet plunger assembly manual. Scary, very scary.
I tried another test to see if I could force myself out of the awful state: I watched a “48 Hours” crime documentary for five minutes.
No matter who spoke, no matter what the topic, I could not follow a word. I could not tell the Crown from the Crook and after five minutes had not the slightest clue about what was going on, where, or what the crime had been, or how it had been resolved. I would not have been able to bring my wife up to speed in any way, as to the plot line till then.
Stuff was passing through my distorting eyes, through my distorting cognitive senses, but rammed up hard against my comprehension processing filter. Neither could I reference, at all, whatever had once been in my memory bank.
I couldn’t take new information in, and store it. Neither could I recall old information forward from my mind to give context or meaning to new data coming through my eyes.
I was now in total limbo as a mental zombie.
In my doctor’s office to which I rushed, I tried to memorize “Fire extinguisher under the sink.” I found it almost totally impossible to read out loud, let along memorize the phrase. With a supreme act of will, I worked extra hard to memorize it, quickly looked away, and tried to repeat it. Not a word would come out. I couldn’t remember, even a fraction of a second later, a simple label. Or what it was about…
The eyes had picked it up, but my cognitive and comprehension faculties were blocked out. My mind had failed to register in my memory bank what the eyes had seen, and just as quickly discarded.
In quick succession I had been virtually totally deprived of all kinds of personal powers: visual, physical, cognition and comprehension, verbal & linguistic, reading, communication, and memory…
Within minutes I had been reduced, by an apparent stroke to little more than a helpless vegetable. I could no longer think sensibly or talk cogently about anything of substance to anyone. Especially about anything which required memory. Though I could still respond with simple phrases and respond to directions, I could no longer put a sentence together that would not arouse immediate suspicion.
I found it a huge task to summon all my powers just to tell the medical receptionist “Could I speak to Dr. Brown please,” without garbling. And she did look at me weirdly, after I blurted it out…
My doctor was alarmed that I had driven a car in my state…
In that awful condition, as a longtime visual artist, a senior member, and holder of the top honour awarded by the Canadian Society of Cinematography, for my work as a Director of Cinematography, in film and television, I could not have peered though my camera viewfinder (visually impaired), operated a movie camera (physically impaired), could not have read or comprehended the day’s shot list (reading & comprehension impaired), could not have directed any assistant or actor anywhere to do anything, (verbal, linguistic & communication impaired), or have a clue about what we had come to the site to do, what I had done before, what I should do now, or what we were going to do next (memory impaired).
Following my brief stroke I was physically, mentally, and artistically totally incapable of functioning on any level at all, even as a basic human being, let alone in my capacity as a functional and working visual artist.
It is not a world in which I would have wanted to continue living.
How Strokes Crippled Norval – Through the same means – a stroke – I had ended up exactly where Norval had ended up in 1994. I now had firsthand knowledge of how a stroke would have damaged him in the same areas that laid me low:
– wheelchair quadriplegic – There are virtually no videos of Norval in his “post-stroke” condition, for a very good reason: it’s frankly too embarrassing for most people to take videos of a drooling vegetable in a wheelchair. All the videos there are were taken for a secondary purpose: window dressing for a KRG or NGC show, a painting certification session (Leblanc), two silly white men doing a hokey Bear Dance (Sinclair and Vadas). (See: LeBlanc Video)
All these videos prove in spades that decent white people would not have made any of them. Any more than you would take videos of dead people at highway accident scenes.
– visual: Norval wouldn’t have been able to see straight. How could he possibly paint when whole patches of his field of view have been obliterated? When the field of view shifted constantly? And much of the rest was blurry.
– It explains why there is no “post-stroke” video or film record of Norval painting anything, let alone working on a large canvas of any kind.
– It explains why all video clips from that period on show Norval not making eye contact with anyone and just staring fixedly into space.
– Norval would never have been able to make out or recognize the hundreds of small, low resolution, poorly reproduced, black and white Xeroxed images that illustrated the numerous Affidavits of Forgery that were issued in his name in 2003-2005.
It’s worse than that. Norval’s eyes were no longer connected to his brain.
– cognition & comprehension: Norval couldn’t think straight. He couldn’t listen to and comprehend anything. His mind could no longer process any information; he could no longer connect the dots between information he was receiving, and that which he once had logged into his brain, neither as sounds or ideas. The mind had been totally sabotaged. Norval was a vegetable.
– Norval wouldn’t have been able to tell one gallery catalogue or gallery label from another, distinguish one painting from another, or one signature from another, even of those that were his.
– It explains Norval’s angry 1994 outburst at a show in the Kinsman Robinson Galleries claiming that he didn’t paint a work a KRG client was asking him to sign, and finally only agreeing to sign to “save your (Robinson’s) ass.”
– It is why all post-stroke videos show Norval staring fixedly into space. He has long ago, stopped trying to “lock into” people, conversations, activities, in fact anything that was happening around him. He could no longer connect any externals, internally, to his databank of memories.
– It explains why all the video clips that show Norval, though surrounded by all kinds of “in-his-face” sensory stimuli – people, cameras, paintings, etc., – Norval invariably and totally ignores them all. The strain of trying to connect visuals in front of him with a brain that refused to function was a strain he couldn’t bear anymore. He finally chose to just disconnect and to become a vegetable in order to find some kind of personal peace.
The Leblanc video is a wonderful late (2002) illustration of Norval in this state.
– physical: Norval’s fine and simple motor skills and physical abilities would have been grossly damaged. His eyes would not function properly anymore, his lips would refuse to follow his command and his mouth could no longer form words or sentences. His lower lip would fall down to stay, and his tongue drool down, completely out of control. Mostly garbles were all he could utter. His hands and arms, already wretchedly animated by Parkinson’s, wouldn’t have been much use with no mind to direct them.
– It explains why there are no “post-stroke” videos of Norval painting after 1994.
– It explains why there are no “post-stroke” signatures, dates, and titlings on the back of paintings, a practice Norval did on thousands of paintings in the 1970s and early 1980s.
– It explains why “post-stroke” video and photos show Norval incapable of keeping his mouth closed, and his tongue from drooling.
– An early 1997 “post-stroke” disaster video of Norval clearly emphasizes his non-stop, violently shaking hands, and make it incontrovertibly clear that he is, then, many years past any ability to draw a steady or straight line of any kind, or do work on any large canvas of any kind.
– Norval’s wild and utterly disastrous May 2001 signature on the White Appraisal show he is many years past being able to sign his name properly or draw a straight line of any kind.
– verbal, linguistic & communication: Norval was no longer capable of speaking in anything but short bursts of disjointed semi-garbled phrases and only if they were rooted in the immediate moment. Any philosophical ramblings, rooted in memory, were blocked out and beyond his post-stroke abilities.
– The 1997 “post-stroke” disaster video – where two grown white men are playing “dress up and make like an Indian” around Norval’s wheelchair – features a totally out of control and shaking artist, uttering long and incomprehensible streams of garbled gibberish. Which is no doubt the reason this became the last ever attempt ever made to record Norval trying to speak or do anything comprehensible.
– No “post-stroke” video interviews by Norval are ever given, for obvious reasons. Norval can’t really talk anymore, beyond the basic grunting, and certainly can’t talk on anything substantive of any kind. They’re bad promotional publicity for KRG when it constantly keeps selling new work from him.
– Tellingly, journalist John Geddes notes that during one totally controlled and supervised interview, Norval’s longest “verbal” response came about booze. Geddes got most of his answers from Norval’s puppeteer, Gabe Vadas, who for 13 years had been speaking for Norval in media interviews: “About his struggles with alcohol, though, he sucks in breath and gasps out his longest reply: “I’d do it all over again. I’d have a better approach. I’d really get drunk.” (John Geddes, Macleans, Jan 26, 2004)
Geddes’ telling reference to “his longest reply” underlines that Norval’s usual response, if any, is only grunts of two or three words. The booze reference is longer for one predictable reason: Norval had rehearsed this mantra and repeated it for decades because he knew it had ultimate shock value on whites.
I also firmly believe Geddes was “given” this interpretation of Norval’s supposed words by Vadas, who had also heard Norval utter this many times before, because during exactly the same time frame (2003), the CBC documentary producer failed to get a single word out of Norval on tape for his one-hour documentary. Vadas had to do ALL the talking for Norval in the film.
Vadas’ reputation for being the voice for the “post-stroke,” voice-inhibited Morrisseau, reached a new derisive high, when old friends of Norval pointed out to Gabe that Norval was only talking gibberish. “Not so,” jumped in the ever-ready Vadas, “he’s speaking Ojibway. And this is what he’s saying…” Vadas, a school drop-out from a BC backwater, of course, was quite ready to interpret that as well, though he could not speak any Indian language.
– reading: Norval was no longer able to read and comprehend, speak in anything but bursts of disjointed guttural phrases, that weren’t really connected to anything. It meant his communication ability had disappeared. He could no longer say what was on his mind… What mind?
– Norval wouldn’t have been able to read and mentally register the contents of any legal document, any affidavit of forgery, any notarized statement, any will, any “cease and desist” lawyer’s letter, etc.,
– memory: Norval couldn’t remember a damn thing. He would not have been able to call up his own “Woodland” painting style, his symbols, and designs that he himself had pioneered. He wouldn’t have remembered whether he was painting in his “blue” period, his “1960s or 70s” period, or anything else. He not only would have lost his short term memory but his long-term memory.
– Norval would never have been able to call up any of his past works. Not even works he had done only minutes or hours before, let alone works of decades past.
– In fact Norval told his brother Wolf exactly that in 2001.
– In short, Norval would not only NOT HAVE HAD TOTAL RECALL, he would have been able to have next to NO RECALL AT ALL, of past works he executed in a few minutes some thirty, forty, or fifty years before.
The stroke would have removed the entire raison d’ètre for the HOAX which was based entirely and only, on Norval’s amazing ability at Total Recall (alleged by Donald Robinson, the main beneficiary of the HOAX.)
Considering all these “post-stroke” factors, Norval’s signature on an Affidavit of Forgery – if it was even his in the first place, as opposed to being “ghost written” by a helper – would have been utterly and totally ludicrous as meaning anything of any kind to anyone. In a word “Preposterous.”
Note: Norval’s strokes – those acknowledged in public – took place in 1994 and 1997. Yet Norval”s signature didn’t start to appear on Affidavits until 2003 – 2005, a drooling decade of debilities later…
In between those years, Norval became famous as the “Hidden Indian,” the guy with the fixed stare.
When no television journalist could get a single interview out of him on video tape…
When no filmmaker could get a single video clip of him painting…
No thanks to his strokes, Norval’s handlers had no choice but to relegate him to the closet, and to morph him from the “Hidden Indian” to the “Dumb Indian.”
Norval, after the first stroke, exactly like me, would have been a completely dysfunctional automaton – a moving vegetable.
And that’s from the effects of the stroke(s) alone… regardless of any other of Norval’s grievous disabilities…
Remember too this happened to me, who has always been in perfect health, doesn’t drink or smoke or carouse. And whose genes are impeccable; my father lived to 100; my mom is 96.
Not so Norval; all his parents, aunties and uncles, died prematurely, of alcohol poisoning of one kind or another.
Forget the other debilitating maladies already in play within Norval, from a lifetime of alcohol and drug abuse and excess; forget his Dementia, and his Alcohol Dementia; forget his Parkinson’s. They would all have been merely a “pile on” effect on top of an already stroke-disabled physical and mental invalid.
These all piled on in quick succession from 1993 to 1997, when the disabilities came on with a ruthlessly progressive vengeance that would not be stopped.
TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) – My “stroke,” as it turned out, in medical parlance is referred to as a TIA, a Transient Ischemic Attack, because unlike its related more devastating cousin, the “stroke,” the TIA is reversible and just as mysteriously as it arrives, it departs, leaving no trace that it ever passed that way. It happens due to a sudden, but momentary, restriction in the blood flow to the brain.
In the three hours from onset till I was processed through the hospital all signs of it had totally disappeared. After countless physical, mental, and sensory tests (CAT, Endo CAT, Electro-Cardiogram, Holter heart monitor, etc.,) done over five days, by numerous doctors and nurses, no one could find a trace it had left. Or what could have caused it…
The doctors said I was lucky, that I had a TIA, sort of a first cousin to a stroke, instead of a debilitating stroke – which I remind you is what Norval had at least two of – which ALWAYS leaves permanent damage behind. That alone defines it from a TIA.
The immediate effects are the same – you become an instant zombie – but in a TIA, if you’re lucky, the phase passes and you regain all your mental and physical abilities with no ill effects.
Whereas a stroke always leaves permanently damaged tissue on the brain and the body, from which you will never really fully recover. As you await a second stroke almost certain to follow with even more deadly consequences.
Like on a professor friend of mine who had a stroke. After a lengthy absence he returned to work but he’s not the same man he was. Parts of his formerly vibrant and alert characteristics seem to have gone AWOL. He’s also had two very serious car accidents since, which I’m certain occurred only because his defensive driving skills have been severely eroded with lapses in his memory bank and his slow physical responses to avoiding potentially life-threatening traffic mishaps. These took months of more rehab. What’s next for him? When he goes for a drive? Tries to cross a street? Climb up to clean the eavestrough?
Then there’s Norval.
We know for a fact that Norval’s stroke was not an isolated and transient TIA like mine was, at all – thanks to my great gene bank, and a life free of carousing, smoking, drugs, and alcohol. (In fact doctors informed me that if the root cause for a TIA isn’t discovered and rooted out, it could very well come back, the next time, as a permanently debilitating stroke.)
In fact, Norval’s genuine stroke, occurred inside the worst abused body of any leading Canadian personality in history. Hardly a surprise…
And in fact Norval’s condition rapidly got worse.
His second stroke followed three years after the first, proving, just as doctors predict, that if not treated a stroke will rear up again with a vengeance.
It proves that Norval’s strokes were progressive and more damaging, because they recurred. And it also proves that his first stroke, since it was followed by another, was worse than if it had been an isolated incident.
Norval’s Real First Stroke – There is another factor you must virtually certainly factor in. Who has proof Norval’s first stroke (in 1994) was actually his first? In fact, your only source for that is Donald Robinson, the person whose Kinsman Robinson Galleries, has the most to gain by claiming that its artist is in perfect condition and painting up a storm…
It is a truism, that alcoholics, drug addicts, Dope Fiends and Coke Heads hardly run to a doctor or a hospital when their body takes a weird turn for the worse, say from a drug overdose, or from early, smaller, but just as debilitating, unreported, untreated, and undiagnosed strokes. Their lifestyle makes them prone to masking or excusing the onset of early serious degenerating disabilities, which they just ignore, until it gets really, really, really bad. Or, commonly, a friend brings them in… on a stretcher…
In fact when the TIA suddenly hit me, my first inclination was to just ignore all the disasters happening to my body, and sleep it off, hoping when I woke up, everything would be OK again – that my hard drive would automatically reset again. I later suddenly opted for the doctor and the hospital, where a neurologist told me with great, solemn seriousness, that I should have called 911 and an ambulance, immediately at the onset of symptoms, not wait an hour or more…
Norval easily falls into the same “to hell with it” category, like so many males, especially druggies and alcoholics. It’s almost a given that Norval’s first (officially noted) stroke was likely his second or third, being perhaps only his first major stroke, where the damage was just too huge to ignore by Norval or his white handlers.
“Whoops! Can’t ignore this anymore. Better fess up. But we can’t scare off the high class ladies by saying Norval’s suffering payback time for being a drunken Dope Fiend and Coke Head. Let’s put the publicity out as “stroke #1” you know, like poor old grandpa had…”
Which is, remember, exactly what “Doctor” Robinson published in his chronology in “Return” for 1994. “Suffers a minor stroke which does not affect his painting arm. Makes a good recovery.” (“Return” 2005, KRG, p 156) (See LeBlanc Video)
In fact Norval’s medical history is just another part of his life that has been notoriously, deliberately, and egregiously manipulated by his white business partners to help them sell many new and large canvases from an artist who had serious multiple strokes starting in the early 1990s.
Donald Robinson, in Norval’s bio chronology, notes the so-called “first” stroke, in 1994, but leaves out entirely the second and almost certainly more serious stroke in 1997.
“Doctor” Robinson, “Master of the House of Invention” – From my perspective as a stroke victim, “Doctor” Robinson, as “Master of the House of Invention,” continues to embellish his role as a serial fabricator, and to add to his damning list of deliberate deceptions that are worth summarizing at this point.
Fake Morrisseau Authenticator Part 1 – In 2001 Robinson admitted sheepishly he had wrongly authenticated an astonishing 31 – count ‘em 31 – different Morrisseau BDP original canvases. This is, far and away, the Guinness Book of Records benchmark as the largest record of authentication failures, in world history, by the self-professed top expert on any world class artist. In the ancient, medieval, and modern world; and in this world or the next.
And hey, Robinson was only getting started…
Fake Morrisseau Authenticator Part 2 – In 2001, Donald Robinson first praised Jim White’s 23 Morrisseau BDP paintings as wonderful, and two weeks later totally reversed himself, saying they were all forgeries.
Fake Morrisseau Authenticator Part 3 – In 2011, Donald Robinson’s claim that “Jesuit Preist Brings Word 1974” a Morrisseau BDP, was a fake, was completely ignored and disregarded by Judge Paul Godfrey. And this, by a judge who could not rely on forensic analysis of the painting’s signature, which had not then been done. When done years later, a top Canadian scientist totally certified it as unequivocally genuine, so verifying Judge Godfrey’s sage ruling.
Fake Morrisseau (Hand Writing Analysis)Authenticator Part 4 – In 2013, Donald Robinson’s claim that the signature on the back of the Morrisseau BDP “Wheel of Life 1979,” was forged, was unequivocally and roundly “rejected” by Judge Paul Martial, who further rejected his claim to being any kind of handwriting analysis expert as he professed to be. Judge Martial brusquely “found” that the very handwriting Robinson claimed in court was forged was in fact by Norval Morrisseau.
Fake Morrisseau Authenticator Part 5 – In 2013, Donald Robinson’s claim that Morrisseau’s BDP “Wheel of Life 1979” was a forgery, was unequivocally and roundly “rejected” by Judge Martial. He rejected Robinson as being any kind of believable “expert witness” whose testimony could be trusted. He brusquely “found” that the very painting Robinson called a fake, was unequivocally genuine. And said Robinson certainly had a motive – and hardly an honourable one – for saying what he did.
Fake Morrisseau Authenticator Part 6 – By 2013 Canada’s top forensic scientists have independently certified over 70 different Morrisseau BDP originals – called fakes by the Robinson family – as authentically signed, with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrrisseau and by no one else.
So, effectively landing the knock-out blow to 70 more false Donald Robinson authentications, to add to his unenviable growing pile of astonishingly incompetent calls. Adding the original 31 BDPs, which Robinson falsely called, to the 23 White paintings on which he reversed himself, to the other two he wrongly called in court, to the 70 more that top Canadian scientists have called him on – hey, get this, and ALL without a single dissenting finding – makes Robinson’s grand total for unrivalled false claims, a certified 127 separate individual wrong calls on Morrisseau BDPs.
World’s Previous Record for False Art Authentications – The world’s previous record holder for false calls by an art expert, was one (1) by renowned Dutch art historian Abraham Bredius, who claimed in 1937 to have discovered Jan Vermeer’s supreme masterpiece, “The Supper at Emmaus.” It turned out to be a Han van Meegeren forgery.
B.Sc. Engineering graduate Donald Robinson has him beat by 126 false calls, and counting…
“Doctor” Robinson – As a stroke survivor, I feel safe to say with equal certitude that “Doctor” Robinson is no more a trustworthy or credible an “expert witness” on Norval Morrisseau’s medical history than on anything else to do with the art and life of Norval Morrisseau.
To me, everything he claims about Norval’s physical and mental condition, his medical events, and their cumulative effects on his painting ability is totally unbelievable and self-serving at best.
It stands to reason that as a direct result of his public positions on those matters, that Robinson is also clearly unreliable about Norval’s artistic output from at least as early as 1994 onwards.
Obviously, Norval’s debilitating strokes would have had a huge impact in determining the eternal question of the “Burrowsseau wheelchair invalid period of painting:” how much did Burrows paint? How much did Norval paint?
It all remains a truly breathtaking and astonishing record of authentication disasters by the man who calls himself the world expert on Morrisseau art AKA the “Principal Morrisseau Dealer.”
Truly Robinson’s record, as “Master of the House of Invention,” is one for the Ages, and will taint forever, the activities of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
All from a man whose only fine art credentials are a simple BA. in engineering. I still remember the chant those half-cut, helmeted engineering students used to sing in raucous disharmony as they paraded some homely naked wench on a horse. (Good looking gals refused to go near engineers because they were so basic and low brow…)
“We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the Engineers
We can, we can, we can, we can demolish forty beers.
Drink rum, drink rum, drink rum all day, and come along with us
‘Cus we don’t give a damn for any old man
Who don’t give a damn for us.”
One of those engineers decided to try his hand at selling fine art…
The Case of the Self-loathing Engineer
A wonderful historic screen-grab from 2008, of a Donald Robinson personal posting on the KRG website, offers a clue as to why he has the world record of disastrous mistakes in art authentication, a whopping 127 documented instances to date: he thinks engineers are too dumb to know anything about art.
See sidebar, right.
This wonderful historic document which was quickly removed from the KRG corporate website in June 2009, is interesting for another reason. It bears a unique tagline header that first appeared on this KRG blog: “Will the real Spirit Walker please stand up?” that was to appear, in the coming years, in numerous defamatory and scatological anonymous emails and blog postings, all aimed at libeling Ugo Matulic whose moniker is Spirit Walker.
The fall-out from all these machinations has been catastrophic… for Norval, for his art, for Aboriginal art, for Canadian heritage…
And for Donald Robinson, Paul Robinson, John MacGregor Newman and the Kinsman Robinson Galleries. In every area Donald Robinson has claimed expertise, he has been roundly rebuffed – not only by his self-loathing blog from 2008 – but by respected experts in their field, leaving his credibility in shreds after making claim after claim for which he has no proof, just bombast and hot air to show for them all.
But it does clear up one thing. Norval’s multiple stroke-debilitated vegetative state, gives the perfect motive for the white men hunched around his wheelchair, to have reconfigured him as the “Hidden Indian,” and the “Dumb Indian,” a persona that the public was virtually never allowed to see, let alone examine and investigate, before he was quickly, again, spirited away to his lock up, far from prying eyes.
All part of the deliberately distracting hoopla mounted, over the years, by Donald Robinson, Paul Robinson, and John MacGregor Newman, in their marketing campaign to promote the art of Norval Morrisseau, a stroke-incapacitated and multiple-malady-destroyed artist, whose new art they had for sale, year after year, at their small family-owned and operated Toronto art gallery.
1994 – Norval Confesses – “I didn’t paint this” – At a Kinsman Robinson Galleries show on May 7, 1994, a customer reported that Norval, who was signing his paintings, suddenly shouted out that “I didn’t paint this picture.” Karl Comete witnessed the event and wrote it up for a court filing.
“A man asked Morrisseau to autograph a photo of a painting he recently purchased from the (KRG) gallery. Morrisseau loudly denied it was his work. Robinson rushed over, reassured the man and guaranteed the work’s authenticity. The tension was palpable to all present as Morrisseau, unpersuaded, proclaimed he would sign the photograph only to ‘save your (Robinson’s) ass'”. (Pub. Matulic Blog, Feb. 26, 2008)
Norval’s outburst was sincere, not a momentary lapse, as he reiterated it with a vengeance, according to Comete.
It obviously caused a huge stir in the gallery, which was only quelled when a discomfited Donald Robinson rushed over to quiet Norval, and reassure the customers, who were obviously upset by the loud claims from the artist that there were fakes being sold.
There are only two conclusions possible: either Robinson was selling Morrisseau look-alikes he got from other sources (fakes or forgeries) and which Norval – if he was of sound mind – vocally and truly rejected as being done by him, or, Norval had one of his early mental lapses, when his Dementia plagued mind could no longer recognize his own work, causing his public outburst. In fact only a few years later Wolf Morrisseau was to testify that Norval told him exactly that…
(A document entered in court confirms this event and Norval’s outburst actually happened.)
In fact, only months later, Norval would have his first stroke.
Remember Robinson himself said Norval was in need of primary care-givers – personally and businesswise – in 1990, when Vadas had immediately assumed Norval’s Power of Attorney, three years before the artist’s gallery outburst.
Deception or Dementia? – If Norval is to be believed, then Robinson, in 1994, was selling what Norval says were forgeries of his work.
1996 – Wheelchair Invalid Artist – In 1996 Norval permanently became a “wheelchair invalid artist.” His body was betraying him mightily, not just his knees – which he had replaced in 1995 – and which his business promoters were quick to point out as the culprits – hey, you don’t paint with your knees – but his limbs, his legs, his arms, his head, his tongue.
After that date there is not a single video or photo showing Norval standing.
Dementia or Deception ? – The Conspiracy Theorists, specifically Gabe Vadas, claims Norval “has been confined to a wheelchair since around 2001.” (Defendant’s Claim, Otavnik v Vadas, May 8, 2007)
In fact the truth is that Norval had been totally wheelchair-confined, as a virtual quadriplegic, and a man quickly slipping into Dementia, since 1996, for five full years longer than Vadas admits in his sworn affidavit. Vadas would clearly have known that. Then why would he say something so utterly false, and for which he has no evidence?
Clearly it was in the self-interest of the Conspiracy Theorists to perpetuate the physical and mental abilities of the artist whose paintings (this is from the Burrowsseau Period) they were selling so briskly, as belonging to a totally physically fit being. And could stand to do those big paintings they were selling, instead of being reduced to the small and awful laptop scribbles he was reduced to doing in a wheelchair.
Remember Robinson wrote that Norval recovered quickly from his little stroke in 1994, and doesn’t even mention the repeat stroke in 1997.
Both claim Norval was fit as a fiddle and painting up a storm till 2001, the same year that Norval suddenly, supposedly collapsed into his wheelchair, and also just as suddenly supposedly stopped painting…
Go ahead, try and find a photo from 1996 on, where Norval’s mouth isn’t hanging open?
His legs could no longer support him; he couldn’t stand, which was necessary of course, to paint those large canvases of his that they continued to sell bearing his name
Worse still, he had extreme difficulty in extending his arms upwards at all, or outwards, for all but the shortest time. There are no Norval “shaking hands” videos out there. It clearly also spelled the end of painting big canvases of any kind.
And now even when he made feeble attempts to reach out his painting arm and hands, they shook dramatically and constantly. No more smooth lines, and steady figure outlines, on canvas would come from Norval Morrisseau.
In fact, his days of painting big canvases had been over for some time; after 1996 it was physically impossible. If it wasn’t lap-sized where he could dabble with a brush with a minimum of effort, he couldn’t paint it anymore.
That is why no videos of any kind have been produced that show Norval Morrisseau painting anything of any size from the mid 90s on.
One still photo from 1999 underscores the pathetic nature of Norval’s minimal abilities in this period. He’s shown dabbling on a lap-size canvas; all his painting is done close to his body, as he apparently finds reaching out, even minimally, to the top of the canvas, far too difficult, if not impossible, anymore. And what he has painted, is crammed close to his body, and is really tragically awful…
For how many years has this been going on?
It offers strong corroborative proof to the allegations of the artist Karl Burrows who has written that it was because of all Norval’s devastatingly accelerating infirmities that he was hired in 1990, to “give Norval a hand” in painting his canvases. Norval, even then, according to him, could no longer paint black outlines that were not shaky, uneven, or squiggly.
Perhaps that’s why Norval so inexplicably stopped signing the back of his paintings anymore, which he had done by habit for thousands of his paintings in the 1970s and 80s. Robinson said in court none of the 1,000 or so canvases he sold – post 1990 – had the traditional Morrisseau signatures on the back.
Correcting the Robinsons – Robinson claims genuine Morrisseaus were never signed in Black Drybrush Paint on the back (BDPs). Not true at all, of course; in fact both Donald Robinson and son Paul Robinson are documented, from as early as 1999 on, as having bought, appraised, and sold dozens – possibly in the hundreds – of exactly these kind of BDP paintings. And they sold them both privately and through public auctions as genuine Morrisseaus on certificates and gallery labels they attached with the KRG name.
But with a declining and shuddering artist they could no longer count on him signing his usual expansive title, date and name on the back. Or any of the numerous symbols and characters he customarily used to include alongside his signature.
The period video evidence that has been dug up by investigative reporters offers good corroborative evidence on why stopping Norval from making his usual BDP signatures on the back of new paintings was a good business decision.
Still don’t get it? Because collectors might just say, “Hey, if his signature and titles are so God-awful squggly and wobbly on the back, how come the other side of the painting is so firm and solid, and not shaky in any way at all…?”
1997 – The Kleinburg Videos – One ultra-rare video, taken outdoors in 1997, of Norval in a wheelchair at Kleinburg, shows dramatically how extremely violently, and almost ceaselessly, his arm and hand shake even when anchored to a solid and firmly anchored metal handlebar. This is immediately before or immediately after Norval’s second or third stroke.
Does anyone, in this world or the next, possibly believe that Norval has been able to paint anything for years…
It features a severely stroke, Dementia, and Parkinson’s debilitated Morrisseau, and two urban white dudes playing dress-up, by trying to pretend they’re some kind of Indians: Ritchie Sinclair and Gabe Vadas.
Norval’s self-serving business promoters, clearly taking a leaf from the “virgin birth,” have for years, endlessly pomposited the nonsensical claim that Norval’s hand, miraculously stopped shaking when he grabbed a brush…
Look at the Kleinburg video and see how likely it is that a light paintbrush, weighing only ounces, could possibly be a steadying influence, when Norval is seen grabbing a solid steel motorized scooter handlebar which refuses to stop his violent shaking.
And by 1997, this violent shaking has been going on for years… Producing, obviously, no one knows, how many hundreds of awfully jiggly paintings with wobbly outlines and jaggedy figures…
Furthermore Burrows says he painted more and more for Norval over the coming years and ended up painting many complete canvases, claiming that Norval signed the early ones, when he was still able to do so, before the shakes prevented even that.
Not So Mysterious Blank Backs of the 1990s Paintings – Donald Robinson is on the record as saying none of the paintings of Norval he sold since c 1990 had any of Norval’s famous BDP signature on the back. None… The backs – unlike the thousands of paintings Norval produced in the 1970s and 80s – were blank. No title, no date, no signature, no symbols.
So there is no DNA on the back of these “wheelchair invalid period” canvases that a forensic expert can assess and say definitively that “yes, indeed Norval did the painting.
No traceable DNA from the artist. No forensic data you can ask one of Canada’s top forensic scientists and handwriting analysis experts to examine and certify as being done “by the hand of Norval Morrisseau” instead of someone else.
Norval had routinely and vigorously done this, writing on the back of thousands of his original canvases in the 1970s and 80s. Is this uncustomary lack of his customary BDP writing on the back of all Norval’s 1990s works, a telling admission that Norval just could not write his name, title, and dates without hugely distorted and shaken letters anymore by then?
Which the record clearly shows, and Burrows claims, is the fact.
Which of course, raises the obvious question: if Norval had the shakes so bad during the 90s that he couldn’t produce a steady signature and titling anymore, on the back, how did he manage the smooth and fluid strokes on the front of the canvas?
And on some very big canvases at that?
Some of which ended up in the 2006 National Gallery of Canada Morrisseau Retrospective.
1997 – Norval’s Second Stroke – So much for the “good recovery…” which Robinson claims Norval made after his first stroke in 1994. To show that Norval’s condition, in fact had deteriorated still further, he was visited with a second stroke in 1997.
During a period, we may add, where the Kinsman Robinson Galleries and Coghlan Arts were still vigorously selling paintings guaranteed to be “direct from the artist.” In fact they would claim Norval painted new works prolifically from his wheelchair in this period, and would do so until 2002.
How much more did the second stroke further diminish Norval’s sight, his mind and thinking processes?
This second (1997) stroke was, tellingly, not reported in Robinson’s “Return” chronology, in 2005, where he did mention the first (1994). Why not? Why the deceptive omission?
Could it be because, having said Norval had suffered (in 1994) “a minor stroke which does not affect his painting arm. Makes a good recovery,” Robinson would have looked downright silly to have to admit that, contrary to a “good recovery” Norval had a second stroke a couple of years after the first (in 1997).
It’s all just devastating proof that Norval was degenerating rapidly, physically and mentally, and was, in fact, the polar opposite of Robinson’s claim that his artist was making “a good recovery.”
The deliberate omissions are further understandable when you remember that Robinson is nothing, if not a motivated seller.
All media video clips after 1995 – all short and heavily edited – show Norval’s hands – make that his painting hand – always resting in his lap. Hell he never raises it because he can’t do it to either shake hands, or paint… He shakes uncontrollably, stares vacantly ahead, never making eye contact with anyone, and never moving his head or limbs.
There is no video footage of Norval reaching out to shake hands with an admirer.
Clearly Norval’s mind too, was in a parallel decline. The video clips are all tragic evidence that Norval had “left the building.”
So much for Robinson’s self-serving claim that Norval “Makes a good recovery” after 1994.
1997 – Norval allegedly put 5 fakes into “Travels to the House of Invention” – More signs of Norval’s Dementia apparently started at least as early as 1997, when he demonstrated his utter failure, of being able to distinguish his authentic from his supposed so-called “fakes,” if we are to believe the say-so of Principal Conspiracy Theorist Ritchie Sinclair himself.
In 2008 Ritchie Sinclair would allege that ten years earlier, in the book “Travels to the House of Invention,” published by Donald Robinson in 1997, and which lists Norval as the author, Norval – inexplicably – includes large pictures – most are full page – of five paintings that Sinclair denounced as forgeries, calling them “inferior counterfeits.”
There is no precedent, in world history, of an artist publishing a major book of his art and unknowingly including five of his own huge paintings that are then alleged, by someone who claims to have been a very close associate, to be utter forgeries that the artist has just failed to recognize as fakes.
Sinclair still lists the so-called fakes prominently as forgeries in 2013, on his website. And Donald Robinson has never ordered the devastating and compromising pictures and accusations removed. So they remain, apparently, as just another in a growing list of powerful statements as to Robinson’s own failure as a Morrisseau authenticator. As editor of Norval’s book he should have told Norval to leave the five fakes out. But he did not…
Early Signs of Dementia – If Sinclair’s charges are to be believed, it is still more devastating proof of Robinson’s inability as a Morrisseau authenticator, which is the only explanation for how the Dementia-plagued artist was able to slip five so-called fakes past his dealer and into the book Robinson was editing and publishing.
(Before it was “discovered” and denounced as a so-called “fake” by Sinclair, Kinsman Robinson Galleries even provided one of the so-called fake pictures as an authentic Morrisseau to Beaver Magazine to banner a feature article it published on Robert Lavack.)
Who’s the Dupe? – From this you can only draw two conclusions, for both of which there are tons of convincing documentary and circumstantial evidence:
– either Sinclair is a liar or has no clue about how to tell genuine from so-called “fake” Morrisseaus, or he is right, and
– Norval Morrisseau (because of Dementia) and Donald Robinson (because of his long proven inability to tell real from fake Morrisseaus) were both incapable of recognizing what a genuine painting from Norval’s earlier years looked like.
But, Sinclair, on his website, as an obviously clear and telling courtesy to Donald Robinson – his increasingly close business associate – only publishes the five “Inferior Counterfeits” – as he calls them – photos individually, as unattributed standalone fakes, refusing to give “context” to any of the images he claims are forgeries.
A Helpful Business Associate – Sinclair does not mention that Robinson, or Morrisseau, or Kinsman Robinson Galleries were involved in publishing the so-called forgeries, and does not mention that the “inferior counterfeits” came from a book, or give its name, or publish a complete picture of the cover of “Travels.” Or attribute it to KRG as the publisher.
Hiding complicit or embarrassing information is a common practice with Conspiracy Theorists who constantly avoid and hate transparency, forthrightness, disclosure, and independent verification with a passion.
It is, of course, exactly what makes Conspiracy Theories and Hoaxes possible.
Sinclair’s non-disclosure is a stunning and telling departure for him as a Conspiracy Theorist blogger.
Sinclair did not extend the same courtesy to the Elmwood Spa, when he denounced so-called “forgeries” he accused them of publishing in a book. He named names, the business, identified the book, and even published images of the cover. (see Terror on Elm Street)
It’s pretty conclusive – and early proof by itself, thanks to Sinclair’s publication – that Norval just made huge mistakes because of advancing Dementia, in misdiagnosing his real paintings as fakes, or vice versa. (Of course, Sinclair could have been wrong and Robinson just spooked and quickly dumped them all in a new edition to avoid a controversy calling his own expertise into question…)
1997 – Norval totally “mum” on fakes in “Travels to the House of Invention” – It is a totally stunning truism, that in a book that features Norval’s own account of his life as a painter he does not mention a single word about forgeries or fakes of any kind in 1997. He could have said anything. He did not, in fact, say a single world that he feared that his painting legacy was being undermined, damaged, or destroyed by illegal or inept imitations of any kind.
Which is what his white “handlers” kept telling the gullible media was Norval’s main concern.
If Norval truly had a concern of any kind about so-called fakes and forgeries of his work, this was the time and the opportunity to warn his fans and collectors around the world. He did not.
It is incontrovertible proof, in fact, that fakes or forgeries of any kind – let alone the “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” that Robinson would later claim to have “discovered” – did not exist in 1997, and were unknown to Norval. Or to anyone else who wrote or published on Norval and his art.
Or if they did – no independently verifiable proof of any kind has ever been produced – it echoes what Wolf Morrisseau told Judge Martial, was the case: that Norval didn’t care about any copies, fakes, or forgeries.
“… he actually didn’t really care because, in his eyes, he thought that the more imagery that was out there the more people got, people would come to know Aboriginal artwork or the called Woodland Style.” (Court Trans/Hat(Court Trans/field v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p117)
To Norval, always a passionate “Indian,” on a mission to promote his people and their heritage, what was important was getting the message of his Anishinaabe culture “out there.” And anyone copying his style would do that and validate that his people mattered in the universe.
And just more damning corroborating evidence that Norval was NOT behind the so-called “Affidavits of Forgery” that were issued bearing his name, by his white business partners, starting in 2003 that denounced an alleged proliferation of Woodland Indian art.
POINT OF INFORMATION: The So-called Forgeries First Alleged 2001 – The charge of “thousands of Morrisseau fakes by umpteen forgers” was first made, not by Norval Morrisseau, but by his main dealer, Donald Robinson in May 2001, to journalist Murray Whyte of the National Post. This is the founding date for the Conspiracy Theory.
Remember, Gabe Vadas had been exercising his Power of Attorney, now, for eleven years.
Where was Norval you may ask? It’s a question Whyte asked Robinson. He reported Norval was “unavailable” to substantiate Robinson’s claims. He published these very first allegations of so-called forgeries entirely without proof, not only from Norval Morrisseau, but from any other independently verifiable source, effectively launching the Norval Morrisseau Hoax.
Whyte even quoted longtime art dealer Michael Rogozinski putting forth evidence that there were no fakes as alleged by Robinson, that the thousands of original Morrisseaus scattered across northern and western Canada were the real thing, not forgeries at all.
Then Whyte just ignored his own research, and went with the Conspiracy Theorist view without validating it with the artist. His entire proof for the basis of his article is based on hearsay. Whyte says he tried, but couldn’t find Norval…
And just where could Whyte have found Norval in 2001? Read on…
2001 – Norval Literally “Locked up” in a Terminal Care Facility – Norval’s descent into Dementia went on so rapidly, it is well-known that by 2001, Norval was so far gone, mentally and physically, that Gabe and Michele Vadas placed him in a terminal care facility in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Remember the Vadases had – according to Donald Robinson (2005) – been “primary care-givers” to Norval since 1990, for eleven years.
And Gabe Vadas had been exercising Norval’s power of attorney since April 24, 1990, for eleven years.
By 2001, the Vadases obviously felt that they just could no longer bear the strain of looking after a man so bedeviled by Dementia and his other maladies. Which must have gone on for years – we assume – before they reached their breaking point about their ability to cope with an invalid with no effective bodily controls anymore or mental communications skills.
Remember at this point in his life (2000-2001) Norval’s care-givers had likely, for years been: dressing him, undressing him, washing him, feeding him, taking him to the toilet, wiping his butt, frequently replacing his soiled underwear, frequently cleaning up the floor when he loses bodily functions, putting him in his wheelchair, putting him to bed, replacing his soiled bedding, speaking for him, writing for him, aggressively using his Power of Attorney for him, etc…
All the while they claim he’s painting up a storm…
And which is why, as an act of complete desperation, they put Norval in a terminal care facility in 2001.
Everyone – both the public and his business partners fully expected Norval to die at any moment, from the late 90s on.
When Dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s hits a loved one, like Norval, it is utter personal horror on many levels. Which is why, at this very moment in time (2001), his Vadas care-givers had actually decided they had had enough – that Norval, mentally and physically, was unreachable and unmanageable anymore, and so placed him in a terminal care facility in Nanaimo, BC.
It’s the old double-edged sword again. The more you praise Gabe and Michele for “beyond the call of duty care-giving,” the more you undermine the physical, mental, and artistic abilities, whatever little Norval had left by then…
Why wouldn’t they also not have someone practice “signing for him,” since mentally, and physically, both, he was not immediately available anymore to do it himself.
Forgery? – In fact Joe McLeod, a Morrisseau expert for over 50 years, and regarded by Judge Martial as a reliable witness, said he thought Norval’s name was being forged by someone on various legal documents that were being increasingly sent out. Many other Morrisseau fine art experts agreed with him.
When Norval’s family heard of Norval’s institutional “incarceration” – they regarded it more as abandonment by the Vadases – they went to the west coast and kidnapped Norval, in December 2001, and brought him back to Thunder Bay, where they would keep him for some seven months, into the fall of 2002. Then Norval was apparently kidnapped back to Nanaimo, BC, by Vadas.
This “Thunder Bay period” exposed the previously “Hidden Indian” (not only Murray Whyte was prevented from seeing Norval, but for years, Norval’s family had been barred from seeing him). Now outsiders, at last, got to see lots of new evidence of just how hugely mentally and physically deteriorated Norval Morrisseau was at this time in his life.
2001 – The Imminent Death of the “Dumb Indian” – Norval was legendary in the fine art world as the “Dumb Indian” who refused – or because of Dementia couldn’t – talk to TV journalists about so-called forgeries. During the entire Robinson period of Norval’s “wheelchair invalid period of painting,” say 1991 to 2007, there is no audio tape or video tape, of Norval alleging or discussing fakes or forgeries of any kind. His business managers had seen to that, by preventing them – as well as his family – access to Norval.
Cynics would say it was deliberate policy thus ensuring that the “Hidden Indian” would remain the “Dumb Indian.”
Die, Norval, Dammit, Die! – It was an annoying juggling act that was increasingly harder to do, hiding from public scrutiny an artist who could no longer paint, could no longer remember, could no longer talk, could no longer communicate. It was a big problem, what with investigative journalists, and art dealers like Joe Otavnik and Michael Moniz growing more insistent that Norval be produced to testify in front of a judge with his proof of alleged forgeries.
How Norval’s business partners must have wished he would just hurry up and die… It was, after all, because of their total inability or unwillingness to produce Norval in court in 2007 that they had to opt for paying off Joe Otavnik some $11,000 in 2008, for falsely claiming his Morrisseaus were forged.
And they lost again, in 2009, to Michael Moniz when he triumphed, in a suit he had filed in 2007, over CTVGlobemedia, as well as, indirectly, Vadas, and lawyer Milrad, now speaking for a deceased Morrisseau, who had been the Globe’s only experts. These two had given the Globe false information about paintings being fakes when top Canadian forensic handwriting experts overruled them saying the signatures were genuine.
The Globe, more than a bit chagrined at having published falsehoods and defamed Moniz on lawyer Milrad and Vadas’ say-so, had to pay him a huge settlement (some $25,000) for defaming him and his genuine Morrisseaus that were being slanged by the trio of white businessmen who were scrabbling for a place around Norval’s wheelchair.
For years from the late 90s on, everyone expected – some hoped – Norval would die at any moment. His care-givers who incarcerated him in a terminal care facility clearly believed it. And so did everyone else in the Canadian fine art world.
And I believe this fact alone, radically changed the behaviour of his care-givers – why they locked him away, for one thing. The businessmen around him, also radically started changing their business tactics. Even in far off Toronto his expected death was used by businessmen to hype sales.
I remember attending several auctions in Toronto, where Empire Auctions was selling Morrisseaus. The auctioneer, whose roots in the art business went back scores of years and multi-generations, candidly prefaced his sales pitch by hinting, more than broadly, that the Morrisseau paintings were a good buy because they were going to sky-rocket in value because, hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Norval is so deteriorated his death can be expected at any moment. He repeated this every time I went, because despite all expectations, Norval hung on, confounding friend and foe alike.
Norval’s business managers clearly believed in his imminent demise too and that goes a long way to explain why they got bolder and bolder, the closer Norval’s death seemed assured, and more wildly extravagant with their claims of forgeries. They acted as if they knew full well, that with Norval’s imminent death totally predicted by all and sundry, he wouldn’t be around, in person, to have to answer probing questions by judges, independent investigators, or pesky radio or video journalists. Time was on the side of the Conspiracy Theorists, not Norval’s.
In other words only the white businessmen gathered around Norval’s death bed would be, and remain, the last and final word on the Conspiracy Theory of so-called “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” and speak for the “Dead Indian,” the same way they had for the “Dumb Indian.”
Norval fooled them all, living seven more years, and so leaving lots of documentary evidence behind, of just how deteriorated he was mentally and physically, and indeed had been for years.
Norval also left no supporting evidence whatsoever that there were forgeries like his business partners claimed, or even if there were, that he cared. But in fact his last seven years served to expose the multi-level business machinations of the white businessmen who grouped so expectantly around his wasted body in the wheelchair and invented the Conspiracy Theory of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.” Something Norval himself never maintained, or alleged, either in print, in audio, or in video testimonials.
Indeed Norval’s tenacious hold on life for the last seven years, is why investigative journalists have been able to gather the evidence from the period that exposes the Norval Morrisseau Hoax of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.” as a giant fraudulent calumny by the Conspiracy Theorists scrabbling for a place around his wheelchair.
2001 – Mr. Robinson’s “Weird Appraisal”for Jim White – There is an unpublished and damning document – this time from the “experts” at the Kinsman Robinson Galleries – that offers more possible proof that Norval was mentally gone as early as May 2001, all based on comparing KRG “Fair Market Valuations” or Certificates of Appraisal, supplied by Donald Robinson and the Kinsman Robinson Galleries to clients, who brought in paintings to have “evaluated.”
NOTE: Remember the three documents we feature here, to illustrate this story, were never, ever, expected by Donald Robinson, Paul Robinson, or Kinsman Robinson Galleries, to become publicly exposed. They became public as court exhibits. They offer an eye-opening exposé, on many levels, into the private dealings of a Toronto fine art gallery that is unprecedented in Canadian history.
Let’s look at a typical KRG Certificate of Appraisal, from October 2001.
It was supplied by KRG to a client who asked Paul Robinson to evaluate two (2) Morrisseau paintings.
Note the excruciating detail and professional presentation of data referring to each painting, including: name, date, type, size, signature, condition, source or provenance, value, writing on the back, accompanying thumbnail pictures, etc., that is attached to each picture separately. It is exactly what you could get – and expect to get – from any other Canadian fine art dealer.
They are both professionally, and proudly, signed by Paul Robinson himself.
Clearly Paul Robinson, Donald Robinson, and Kinsman Robinson Galleries, like every other fine art gallery in Canada, had a professional standard for evaluating paintings and replying to clients who brought in Morrisseaus for appraisal. And like everyone, charged several hundred dollars for the appraisal service.
Clientus Interruptus – In the same relative time span, in May 2001, Donald Robinson and Kinsman Robinson Galleries produced a completely different Certificate of Appraisal for another client that totally boggles the mind in how it departs from every convention established in the Canadian fine art market and the standard that the professionals at KRG had themselves previously followed, before and after they issued this one.
In March, 2001, a highly reputable fine art dealer – but also a growing business competitor of KRG, in Morrisseau originals – Jim White, brought 23 Morrisseau paintings to Robinson’s gallery for evaluation. White later testified in front of Judge Martial that Robinson – who was at that time, after over 15 years of selling Morrisseaus, calling himself the world’s top Morrisseau expert – originally effusively praised the paintings, and agreed to evaluate them, before cautioning White to have them well insured.
White had every reason to expect a positive result. After all, he, and everyone else, knew Donald Robinson, himself had bought 31 similar paintings, at the very same auction – from Randy Potter Auction – only months before, for a total of $54,000.
White was utterly blown over, only a few weeks later when Donald Robinson issued him the following absolutely astonishing KRG Certificate of Appraisal, comprised of three pages. (Again, which were never expected to, ever, “publicly,” see the light of day.)
Page 1 was topped by a KRG stamp and address, followed immediately by a letter, crudely hand-written by an illiterate:
“1 May 2001.
Dear Noval (sic) & Gabe,
I hope you are both doing OK.
Would you please look at the
23 colour photos of acylics (sic) on
canvas & tell me if you
painted them or not. (? sic) I have been
asked to appaise (sic) them by a man who
bought them at an auction very recently where a large number of
similar canvases have been sold.
Please sign one of the attached letters &
send it to me by courier. Thank you”
This was followed by a separate typed page 2, which they offered for Norval to sign.
2 May 2001
I did not paint the attached 23 acrylics on canvas. (emphasis by KRG not me)
2 May 2001
I painted the attached 23 acrylics on canvas.
Norval was apparently supposed to put a single “X” that all 23 were “fakes” – on page 2 – or a single “X” that all 23 were genuine – on page 3.
There was no broken down, annotated, or enumerated list of 23 separate paintings and their accompanying pictures, with a check box for each, as one would expect from a professional fine art gallery.
And had been the previous KRG standard for years before.
KRG clearly wanted all 23 handled as a lot, and with one “X.”
KRG obviously did not expected a declining old man who suffered from Dementia, among a host of other physical and mentally disabling conditions, to tell one apart from another, and did not offer him the choice. The Robinson’s wanted him – in fact directed him – with the paperwork they supplied, to dump them all or approve them all.
Norval was given one choice: all or nothing.
What kind of appraisal service is that? It appears to me to be a document more concerned with manipulating a result, more an example of elder abuse than of seeking a legitimate art appraisal for 23 different works.
Notes: Literacy at Kinsman Robinson Galleries – It is not known who, at KRG, wrote this illiterate and “chummy” letter to “Noval” (sic)? It is written on KRG letterhead paper. It also appears that someone may have used “white-out” to cover up the signature in the original document before a Xerox copy was provided to Jim White.
Locking at the sloppy grammar etc., and the most unprofessional excuse for a fine art gallery appraisal form I have ever seen, it looks to me like the KRG cleaning lady wrote it. I think they let her do it – and do remember this – because this spurious and transparently obviously fabricated document was never, ever expected to be seen by anyone in public… ever…
Jim White, begs to differ. He believes Donald Robinson himself, the boss man at KRG, wrote it. He was the person with whom he dealt, exclusively, with the appraisals of the 23 paintings. He took the paintings; he talked with White; he was the source of correspondence on the file, etc.
Donald “Providence” Robinson – It could be. In his court testimony Donald Robinson frequently mispronounced the fine art term “provenance” as “providence” as noted by the court clerk in her transcription, of his testimony. And no, it’s not her mistake. When others said “provenance” that’s what she wrote.
“For example my gallery currently specializes in just these types of paintings, older historical, older paintings with a good providence (sic), and we – routinely when we get paintings consigned to us from private people, a lot of them from Thunder Bay area and from northern Ontario – it’s routine that we would receive a letter with it, a gallery invoice, other documentation, that if it didn’t come from Norval it came from someone else, but some sort of trail and record and providence (sic) is so important. None of these paintings have any providence (sic) whatsoever.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Sep 11, 2011 p21)
Mixing up “provenance” and “providence” is a very common grammar and linguistic mistake made by amateurs dealing with fine art for the first time. I have heard this hundreds of times by pretenders such as country auctioneers, flea market or yard sale purveyors, first time art collectors, or poseurs who like to bandy about huge words to impress at high society kaffeeklatsches when they don’t know what they mean.
In fact the words have nothing in common whatsoever. They are only mixed up, therefore, by illiterate people who have no clue what either word means.
“Provenance” refers to the source, or origin, or life history of a painting, or historical item.
“Fuck off”… with your “Providence” – As a long-time Director of Research and Accessions Curator for a museum of some 4,500 Great Canadian paintings, and antique memorabilia items, I think what Donald Robinson says about “providence/provenance” is total crap, no matter how you spell it…
99% of the thousands of genuine works of antique artworks (oils, acrylics, watercolours, pastels, engravings, etchings, photo-gravures, lithos, chromolithos, prints) and memorabilia items I have collected and curated, have no provenance of any kind whatsoever. I had to establish their credibility and authenticity entirely independently of any accompanying paper trail or “word of mouth” paternity, which is always the best rule of thumb to follow whenever you are thinking of buying anything: a painting, an antique, a used car, a house, a mail order bride… not rely on hearsay – paperwork or word-of-mouth – from some devious “motivated” seller. (See Curator)
It’s been my experience that most so-called “provenance” is routinely just made up by some crafty motivated hustler, like auctioneers, kijiji conmen, ebay sellers, art dealers, used car salesmen, real estate agents, antique store operators, and quite often, well-meaning, but totally wrong-headed family members.
A typical example of this common motivated seller deviousness is the disclosure by a former employee of “Ashley Madison.com” that she was paid to make up over 1,000 fake profiles for non-existent women in order to entice married men to pay for website access to hook up with married women willing to engage in sexual affairs.
And if there has ever been an artist for whom a paper trail of “provenance” or “chain of title” is as useless as useless can be, that artist is Norval Morrisseau, who deliberately left no paper trail whatsoever on the vast overwhelming majority of his paintings. And for two very good reasons:
Norval was an Aboriginal who was utterly derisive of any and all “white man’s paper” as “no fucking good,” even receipts which would have only helped him. He openly sneered at a paper trail as a matter of principle, as nothing less than a typical “white man’s con.”
And Norval worked overwhelmingly in the underground cash economy where neither buyer or seller want the government to know what they’re doing, by leaving an incriminating paper trail of financial transactions on which they have to pay tax. Both seller and buyer want to share the profits with each other not the goddam government. Thousands of these cash only deals were made between Norval and his clients across northern Ontario and western Canada.
So, especially if you are promised a bullet proof paper trail of “providence” on a Morrisseau, immediately suspect a faked paternity or “providence.” And then take it from there, and seek external verification separate from someone trying you on with a con.
Norval and I are both, in good company with our opinions.
One of the world’s most esteemed art curators and forgery experts, Thomas Hoving, long head of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, gave this advice about “provenance.”
“Provenance is a laugh, the fact that it came from so and so, and so and so gave it to the prince of so and so. Fuck off! That can all be faked up. Same thing with iconography. All of that stuff is superfluous and of no importance.” (TPF Hoving quoted, The Forger’s Spell, Dolnick, p242)
So take your pick: The widely discredited Donald “Providence” Robinson, a motivated seller from a small Toronto family-owned and operated art gallery, or the world-renowned Thomas “Provenance” Hoving, a world class museum curator and international art expert with nothing to sell but authenticity.
In fact there is no more telling evidence of just what Tom Hoving is talking about than looking to the business model followed by Mr. Don “Providence” Robinson himself.
For years Kinsman Robinson Galleries (Donald Robinson, Paul Robinson, and John MacGregor Newman) have been vociferously saying that unlike their business competitors who, they snidely say, buy at low-life auctions, where provenance is never disclosed as a matter of standard business practice, that KRG gets all their Morrisseaus directly from the artist.
“The Thunderbird 1966” – out of scores of examples we could have picked – illustrates that this is at best a complete and utter fabrication by the “Master of the House of Invention.”
The KRG’s own sleight of hand with the provenance of “The Thunderbird” is exactly why the MOMA’s Tom Hoving says “Fuck off!” to all that provenance crap, because it is so easily and commonly faked by self-serving art dealers.
The KRG provenance fakery above, was posted by Donald Robinson and KRG, on their corporate website. They completely skip the key link in the chain of title and the fact that they actually bought it at a Waddington’s monthly “Off the Wall” bulk sale, and claim – its actually printed – that it was “Acquired directly from the artist.” The KRG ad, if it was honest, should have said, “Acquired directly from a low-end Waddington’s monthly art auction.” What they posted, instead, at the top of their provenance listing, “Acquired directly from the artist,” is demonstrably false and dishonest.
Fudging provenance is clearly a deliberate and deceptive KRG sales practice, that is all the more egregious because it comes from a gallery that says provenance and a clear paper trail is especially important for Morrisseaus. And publicly brags “that Provenance is everything in the art world.”
(DISCLOSURE: I was there on the auction floor when “The Thunderbird” was sold to an undisclosed, anonymous buyer. When we inquired who had bought it the auctioneer said the auction never discloses the names of its buyers or sellers… Note how, exactly this universal auction practice makes an absolute mockery of any credibility to the so-called “chain of title” or provenance. A few months later, eagle eyes spotted “The Thunderbird” for sale, at KRG.)
How can you trust art from a dealer that resorts to such deceptive practices? (See: More price boosting and provenance fudging)
Is this what Jack Pollock was thinking about when he wrote thirty years ago?
“… what the art world is like: scheming, manipulative, and, quite often, downright fraudulent.” – “Dear M: Letters from a Gentleman of Excess” – Jack Pollock, Norval Morrisseau’s longest (1962-1981) & most successful (12 shows) dealer
Notes: Cover up – Another astonishing thing is a curious but telling omission in the appraisal letter by Donald Robinson. He does not pass on – highly relevant in my view in evaluating authenticity – the information that he himself had bought 31 similar paintings, at the very same auction, after examining and evaluating each of them in detail as authentic Morrisseaus.
And he spent some $54,000 on them. And never ever brought any back for a refund…
And this was at a time, when Robinson, claimed to be the “world’s top Morrisseau expert” and of sound mind and body, which Norval Morrisseau was anything but, and Robinson well knew it.
Hell, everyone else in the Canadian fine art community was aware of it, in fact were saying publicly – at Empire Auctions I heard it being announced at several auctions – that Norval was at death’s door, and could die at any moment.
Why did Robinson (if Jim White is correct about authorship), or whoever wrote the first letter, not add to the letter something like this to help Noval (sic) out?
“Yeah, Noval, I myself, bought 31 wunnerful paintings of yours there, an i was encouraging others at the Poter action to buy them too. They’re great. I was so eksited, would u believe, I bought the first ones on the very day you were in the KRG for a show. I actially had them downstairs while you were doing the “meat and greet” with our customers upstairs. Didn’t show them to you because you seem to be more vacant than last year. With Gabe, you know, moving you to the terminal care place, an all.”
“I hev been selling them with sexess ever since, privately and at Levee Auction in Calgary. I went back many times to buy more but please don’t think I was trying to undercut sales of your works with these. Truss me. I did not post them to our KRG website. I jes sold them privately and secretly to a far away country auction. I jes didn’t wan you or Gabe to find out, cause I feered you wouldn’t unerstan an jes think i was trying to undercut sales of yer own paintings I was selling for ya.. Truss me… its no conflic at all…”
Why the non-disclosure of this obviously crucial information by the Principal Morrisseau Dealer? This too, would have “guided” Gabe and Norval in their so-called decisions to establish authenticity of the White 23 and the secret – kept from Gabe and Norval – Robinson 31, assuming someone at KRG was actually interested in what Norval thought, if indeed he still was capable of thinking, at this point in his life.
(In fact in a sworn affidavit White maintains that Robinson himself gushed over the paintings as “wonderful” and never told him he was going to – had any need whatsoever – to send the paintings for authentication to Norval, who everyone in the business was well aware, was at death’s door at this time and in no condition to “meat and greet” anyone, let alone appraise 23 individual paintings. Just look at Norval’s wildly scattered signature; it looks as if someone had to push Norval’s elbow to write it. And do note; Robinson didn’t ask him to do 23 evaluations, just give a thumbs down (page 2), or up (page 3) for the whole bunch at once… )
Manipulating Norval’s Approval – Since Robinson had acquired many, exactly similar style paintings, from exactly the same source – Randy Potter Auctions – and from the same background, and was selling and praising them as genuine Morrisseaus, hither and yon, why did he not put Norval’s approval and authentication signature as page 2, as the first and obvious choice, all things considered? Like in “I think they’re all real so obviously you will too.”
Instead he went out of his way to direct Norval into giving only a “bundled response,” and then further giving precedence (the KRG emphasis) to not approve the paintings as genuine, by listing the negative option first on page 2.
Judge Martial’s Questions their Reliability – Judge Martial had a possible explanation for these curious anomalies in the Appraisal form KRG provided to Jim White for his 23 Potter-sourced paintings:
“It was his (Robinson’s) opinion that Randy Potter sold some two thousand, (2,000) fake paintings… The Court finds it obvious that Potter would be seen as a significant competitor.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p6)
“It was also clear that his (Robinson’s) personal views and business interests conflicted with his professional opinion since it was in his interest along with Mr. Vadas to maintain the price of Morrisseau paintings which would not otherwise be the case if the market was flooded with paintings sourced from Potter auctions.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p38)
In other words, casting aspersions – by calling them fakes – on paintings from Potter’s – like the 23 belonging to White – would fit right into a marketing initiative that would obviously only benefit Kinsman Robinson Galleries and defame Randy Potter, his auction, and his paintings. And by extension, all other leading business competitors of KRG, all of whom – and that includes Robinson himself – had bought scores of paintings there.
For all these reasons, this astonishing KRG Certificate of Appraisal given to Jim White in May 2001, is an absolutely key Canadian historical document.
It is the secret – remember it was never expected to be seen by the public – landmark document illustrating the beginning of the Morrisseau Hoax initiated by the Conspiracy Theorists claiming, for the very first time, without supplying any proof, that there are “thousands of forgeries out there by umpteen forgers.”
And bearing the signature of “Noval” (sic) Morrisseau, for what that is worth, considering the condition he was in at that time.
It is the Conspiracy Theorist’s sole proof that there are forgeries out there.
It is their very first alleged “proof.” In fact, it is the very first time that Norval – you decide on his mental condition, and how his signature got on the document – is on the record as “saying” paintings are forgeries.
Note: Prior to this (May 2001) there has been no public mention of any allegations about so-called Morrisseau fakes or forgeries of any kind, let alone of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.”
The entire Hoax is based on the truthfulness, the accuracy, the transparency, the reliability, of this semi-anonymous KRG Certificate of Appraisal (KRG stamp; no personal signature) and the mental and physical condition of the only person whose signature is on it – “Noval” (sic) Morrisseau…
We assume, for the sake of argument, that Norval actually signed this incompetently fabricated document. Which becomes an increasingly open question.
Food for Thought – Which is where – to Gabe Vadas in Nanaimo, BC – we assume Donald Robinson sent this letter to get Norval’s signature for his Jim White Certificate of Appraisal. In fact Robinson has no proof whatsoever that in fact the Vadas cleaning lady there didn’t forge that awful barely look-alike Morrisseau signature that came back and he passed off to Jim White.
Running for Cover – And another thing, why did neither Donald Robinson or Paul Robinson, personally sign this appraisal form, as has been Kinsman Robinson’s Galleries practice for decades, even on appraisals for only one or two paintings brought to their gallery? And this was a mammoth appraisal for 23 works…
May 2001 – Robinson Goes Public for the First Time – Within days of privately supplying the negative KRG Certificate of Appraisal, “bearing the signature of Norval Morrisseau,” to Jim White, Donald Robinson also made the same announcement to Murray Whyte at the National Post saying he suspected all the Potter paintings (some 850 at the time) to be fakes.
Whyte inexcusably published these unsubstantiated allegations, for the very first time on May 18, 2001.
Whyte takes ownership, by default, of launching the biggest Hoax in Canadian fine art history, by claiming the existence of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.” It’s an unpardonable lapse in practicing due diligence by a so-called top Canadian fine art journalist.
Whyte bears responsibility for the destruction of millions of dollars in art valuations of genuine Morrisseau paintings, as well as those of all Canadian Aboriginal artists who were negatively affected by the ripple effect of bogus allegations published by the National Post allowing itself to be manipulated by cunning business operators.
Astonishingly, Whyte had strongly countering evidence against forgeries in his own article, when he quoted Canadian fine art gallery pioneer Mike Rogozinski, who strongly dissed the allegations of forgery saying, forgery makes no sense when there were literally thousands of Norval’s genuine paintings to be found all over northern Ontario.
Whyte had apparently forgotten this powerful evidence – which he mindlessly, apparently, put into his own article – that made forging on any level, a ludicrous allegation, at best. And clear and diabolical art market manipulation at worst.
Then, in a clear and utter violation of every moral or ethical public or private standard, Donald Robinson handed over to the newspaper, his photos of Jim White’s private paintings, as illustrations of Robinson’s entirely unproven and unverified allegations, for the journalist to publicly post in the national media.
Robinson did it, without White’s permission, clearly with the intent to slang various of his business competitors. An intent hinted at by Judge Martial when he states price manipulating was “in his (Robinson’s) interest.”
And Whyte again was a gullible handmaiden in expanding to new lows, this clear example of publishing malfeasance.
It is obvious Donald Robinson’s unpardonable, and gross transgression of Jim White’s privacy rights, is the most egregious act of unprofessionalism, by a Canadian fine art dealer, I have ever heard of in Canadian history. It is why I question why anyone would possibly patronize a fine art gallery where a proprietor is so utterly dismissive of a client’s rights, property, and well-being.
How can anyone possibly trust anyone who would do something like this, to be honourable in any of their other business operations?
Notes: “Noval’s” (sic) Dementia – There is lots of circumstantial documentary proof here that Norval was “gone” and was, if anything, less than marginally involved in the KRG Certificate of Appraisal issued to KRG business client, Jim White.
How do you explain this utterly minimal and contemptible document, providing only one check mark for 23 entirely separate and large acrylics on canvas, all bearing different dates, titles, and points of origin. And all in different conditions.
Only one conclusion is possible: that Robinson intended to direct Norval to call them all – hint, hint; nudge, nudge; wink, wink – “fake,” immediately, on page 2, or all real, on the last page 3.
It is exactly the kind of document one would send to a Dementia victim whose eyesight and memory functions are almost totally debilitated by this condition. And from whom you do not really expect anything reliable or useful as a response whatsoever. So you put words in his mouth or give him documents fabricated to deliberately steer him in the right direction.
Norval is considered incapable of going over 23 individual paintings and judging them and grading them independently, which had been the Kinsman Robinson Galleries practice for years.
The unusual fact that, especially after Robinson’s praising the paintings to Jim White, he gave Norval the first option to sign that the paintings are NOT painted by him – hint, hint; nudge, nudge; wink, wink…
The unusual fact is that NOT is highlit with underlining – hint, hint; nudge, nudge; wink, wink… (If indeed Norval ever read it, or was even capable of reading it at that point in his physical and mental decline.)
That the last document page is reserved, almost as an afterthought, to allow Norval to say, oh yeah, he painted them.
All of it, to me, is highly compromising. It’s unprofessional on any number of levels and reminds me of Jack Pollock’s warning of almost 30 years ago.
“… what the art world is like: scheming, manipulative, and, quite often, downright fraudulent.” – “Dear M: Letters from a Gentleman of Excess” – Jack Pollock, Norval Morrisseau’s longest (1962-1981) & most successful (12 shows) dealer
A more modern observer, Toronto lawyer and international stolen art sleuth, Bonnie Czegledi (she’s a product of Harvard, Yale, and Osgoode, and a member of the Canadian, American, and International bar associations), thinks the art business has all changed for the worse.
“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 and theft is rampant. 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)
It is clearly someone who prefers anonymity at KRG – perhaps the cleaning lady did it – speaking for Norval Morrisseau, who, in the very same timeframe KRG issued White the document, told Wolf Morrisseau – testimony in court – he really can’t remember what he painted in the past. And at a time Wolf testified before Judge Martial that Norval only had minutes of lucidity left because of Dementia, and was mostly out of it…
Robinson clearly knew it too. There can be no other explanation for the fact that his Certificate of Appraisal boiled all 23 paintings down into a single No or Yes, to make it easy for the seriously ailing artist.
This Certificate of Appraisal is a totally inexplicable departure from the previous KRG standard.
To me it is a preposterously unprofessional document, and without doubt, the worst ever Certificate of Appraisal ever sent out by any fine art gallery in Canadian history.
It’s an absolutely ludicrously minimal document that raises many troubling questions.
Now why should that be?
I have the possible answer.
Robinson very well knew – like everyone else in the Canadian fine art world at the time – that there was “nobody home” at the “Morrisseau residence.”
(In fact several times, during exactly this period of time, I heard one longtime top Canadian fine art auctioneer, promote his sales by prefacing his selling patter with comments that buying a Morrisseau made good sense as Norval was presently in such bad shape he was going to die at any moment, after which his art valuations would jump.)
It cannot possibly be explained or excused on any other level.
In those three or so weeks Robinson, supposedly, completely altered his professional opinion on the White 23 paintings. Pronouncing them “wonderful,” to White one minute, then “forgeries” the next…
Which is nothing, if not utterly astonishing, all on its own, by the self-proclaimed top Morrisseau expert in the world, who had been at it for over 16 years…
By clearly directing Norval’s “choice” of options, as the document proves he did, means either, Robinson did not want him to have a choice, or knew he was incapable of making a choice – mentally too far gone – and needed direction.
May 2001 – Norval Skips Out on Murray Whyte Stunningly, Norval’s terribly deteriorated condition can be the only reason that he was unavailable to Murray Whyte, the journalist responsible for the landmark publishing of the very first charge of so-called “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers,” ever made by anyone, on May 18, 2001.
Norval Morrisseau was given as the source for the so-called hundreds of fakes, as reported by Donald Robinson to Whyte.
But Whyte couldn’t contact Morrisseau, writing tellingly: “Mr. Morrisseau could not be reached for comment.” (National Post, Whyte, May 18, 2001).
There was no need. Remember, Vadas had been Norval’s Power of Attorney for 11 years.
The conclusion is inescapable, that the white businessmen scrabbling for a place around Norval’s wheelchair, deliberately “hid” Norval from Whyte. So the journalist had no way to verify if the charges Donald Robinson made were true.
Why did Donald Robinson and Vadas not make Norval available to Whyte to back up their explosive charges about hundreds of so-called forgeries that they brought before the public for the very first time?
My call – hell they couldn’t; Norval was in a terminal care facility, unable to speak or communicate intelligibly, his tongue hanging out, and routinely soiling himself… What kind of credible witness about forgeries would he possibly make to an inquisitive journalist looking for incontrovertible proof for Robinson’s unprecedented charges?
Let’s face it; one visit with Norval and the jig would have been up.
But Whyte did not pursue the proper source for the allegations of a huge forgery operation and chose to publish an infamy without even doing basic journalistic due diligence. His dismissive line about not being able to reach Norval, is a patently poor excuse, for going on to publish a bombshell article for which there was no independent credible proof of any kind.
And none has surfaced AT ALL in the 12 years since… In fact all the DNA found since has, without a single solitary contrary finding, come out to prove that all the so-called forgeries submitted to handwriting scientists, to be absolutely genuine works by Norval, in spite of what his white business associates claim to the gullible media.
Not having done due diligence, not having verified his sources, Whyte should never, ever have published.
Instead he irresponsibly showcased, and covered with a patina of faux journalistic approval, the charge of so-called Morrisseau forgeries as somehow having some kind of credibility. He bears a huge responsibility for having helped launch what was actually “the greatest fraud in Canadian art history.”
Quite frankly, I don’t understand why no one sued Whyte and the National Post for that outrageously irresponsible and unforgivable piece of arts journalism.
Note: I would give Murray Whyte (National Post 2001) and Val Ross (whose newspaper was successfully sued for her outrageously false article in the Globe in 2007) the shared prize for the most irresponsible and gullible pieces of art journalism in Canadian history.
Together they have wreaked millions of dollars damage to the valuation of genuine Norval Morrisseau art, not to mention the ripple effect damage to First Nations art and artists overall.
Dec 2001 – A Norval Friend “Talks & Walks” – In December 2001, an old family friend of Norval’s stopped to talk to him in Thunder Bay, where he was sitting as his family sold paintings in a mall, observing: “he could no longer control his body. I left after awhile because I could not understand him.” (Dolly McGuire, in James Stephens, Picasso of the North Country p 207)
Dec 2001 – Norval confesses his mind is gone to Wolf Morrisseau – It’s further damning proof again, of what Wolf Morrisseau testified Norval had confessed to him many years before (2001-2002):
“… he basically said that he is no longer in any condition to have a viable understanding of what he had done because he had Parkinson’s; it was taking so much from him.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p116)
So in his mentally deteriorated condition, it would have been easy for Norval to fall prey to suggestions to sign this, that, and the other – like for instance the so-called group evaluation of the 23 Jim White paintings, a few months earlier – of stuff he just couldn’t recall, and got shoved in front of him by the aggressive white businessmen scrabbling for a place around his wheelchair.
Joe McLeod told Judge Martial, it was all “elder abuse” going way back…
Apr 2002 – Norval vegetative state in the devastating LeBlanc Video – A few months later, in April 2002, a lengthy, unedited video was taken of Norval – who was, at that time, an escapee from the clutches of his “white handlers,” the Conspiracy Theorists, and safely in the hands of his family. The video was taken to show that some paintings were authentic because Norval signed them, again before a camera. (See LeBlanc Video)
In fact what they actually show is that clearly Norval was a virtual vegetable and totally being manipulated to countersign and thumbprint pictures, which are genuine enough and that he had painted in the 1970s.
But, in fact, what the video proves, to me as a historian and long-time film and television cameraman and editor (see csc) that without a doubt, in April 2002, Norval was exhibiting – big time – many of the classic signs of Dementia. He was simply an automaton, sleep-walking through all the paces his family was putting him through: putting his thumb into an ink pad, putting pencils in his hand, and putting paintings for him to countersign, which he had not seen. He does not even appear to look at the paintings or be mentally engaged with them. Or, for that matter, with anyone else.
(Remember, at this very moment Gabe Vadas is in Nanaimo, and is stunned to discover his “meal ticket” has been kidnapped from out of his control, but he still has all Norval’s assets. It’s likely at this very time that he suddenly decides to ship a huge hoard of 384 of Norval’s paintings – worth, get this, tens of millions of dollars – to Kinsman Robinson Galleries in Toronto, for “safe-keeping” as Donald Robinson testified in court. He would “safeguard” the paintings for seven years, till long after Norval died. Norval never knew he was a multi-millionaire, complaining to John Geddes in 2003 that he didn’t even have money to buy paint or canvas. And according to his family he died penniless…)
Throughout the lengthy LeBlanc authenticating procedure, captured in one unedited video take, Norval says not a single word, does not make eye contact with anyone, or make a single sign of recognition of either people or paintings. He does not interact with anyone involved in the supposed “authentication” process, in any way other than as a passive prop. His head never moves from its flopped over downcast position. Where Norval’s mind is, during this process, is anyone’s guess.
Clearly, anyone with basic observer skills can see for themselves, that anyone could have gotten Norval to sign anything… fake or real…
And remember, this was Norval’s mental and physical condition a full two and three years BEFORE he supposedly started to pick the hundreds of so-called “fakes” from the internet, and began to compile, and sign his notorious and totally questionable Affidavits of Forgery in 2003 – 2005, strategically directed against all the main Canadian art galleries competing with the Kinsman Robinson Galleries in selling Morrisseaus.
And remember, this was Norval’s mental and physical condition a full three years BEFORE he supposedly founded the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, selected its officers, wrote its mission statement, and then selected the fakes they were to use as the standard for evaluating forgeries.
Apr 2002 – A Norval Enthusiast “Talks” to Norval – In April 2002, another passionate Morrisseau collector waxed enthusiastic to me about meeting and talking to Norval in Thunder Bay, when he encountered the artist there, again, with his family, selling paintings.
When I – ever the skeptic and probing journalist and historian – stopped him in the midst of his gushing about “talking” to the great artist, to probe the validity of exactly what he was saying, about a man many people claimed couldn’t really “talk” or communicate at that time, he paused for some time, before replying, and then said:
Jun 2003 – Devastating Power of Attorney – In June 2003, there is further clear documentary proof that Norval Morrisseau is so far gone mentally that Gabe Vadas sees no problem in aggressively continuing to wield Norval’s “Power of Attorney.”
Vadas, as we have seen has been wielding the Power of Attorney since Apr. 24, 1990, some 13 years.
In 2003, in a letter to an art gallery, accusing its owners of having fakes, Clark R Purves of Purves, Hickford Horne & Curry says, “Please be advised that I am counsel for Norval Morrisseau and his Power of Attorney, Gabe Vadas.” (Letter June 17, 2003 from Clark R Purves)
Purves says this deliberately for only one reason: everyone knows that “Norval has mentally left the building,” who knows how many years before.
It is illegal to invoke a Power of Attorney on behalf of someone else if they are mentally capable of looking after their own interests. Clearly Norval was not, or Vadas was breaking the law. Purves must have satisfied himself and been convinced that it was proper for him to invoke the legality that allowed someone to speak and act on behalf of a mentally incapable patient.
Which means two more things: Purves knew about the mental issues that bedeviled Norval and, secondly, that others knew of the problem also. Which is why Purves brought this out in the open in a big way as the first line in his letter of warning. Let’s face it, a lawyer covers his own ass first, then that of his client.
2003 – Norval Can’t Utter a Single Word for CBC – In fact by the summer of 2003, Norval’s mental decline had been so precipitous, that Paul Carvalho, the CBC producer shooting “The Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau,” complained that he could not get Norval to speak one word for his one-hour program celebrating his career as Canada’s top Aboriginal artist.
In an email he confirmed “this double difficulty – our protagonist could not talk. Striking a balance was a challenge, to say the least” (email – Paul Carvalho, Mar. 28, 2012)
Any voice and video clips of Norval he used, in a production that would air in February 2005, all came from much earlier footage, most of it from the 1970s. He even used an actor to play Norval because Norval’s body, limb, and drooling tongue functions were too distressing to film. (One dramatized sequence featured Norval’s Volpe years when the Volpes supplied Norval with a hotel room booze, drugs, and a steady stream of paid young male companions.
Norval’s longtime companion and white care-giver Gabe Vadas did all the on-camera talking for him. It was impossible for it to be any other way, because Norval was so far gone.
By 2003, and demonstrably, for many years before, Norval clearly had the most destroyed mind and body of any leading Canadian personality in Canadian history.
Which raises a very serious question? If the CBC producer couldn’t get Norval to say a single intelligible word, that he could use by 2003, how did Norval communicate his supposed knowledge about hundreds of forgeries listed on the Affidavits of Forgery that mysteriously appeared bearing his name in the two years following?
2004 – “Nobody Home” Devastating Corroboration – KRG 2004 – A devastating attempt to make eye contact with Norval was made by the CBC Life and Times cameraman in 2004, when Norval was propped up in the Kinsman Robinson Galleries as a visual aid for a KRG art show. The cameraman, desperate to make personal contact with the great artist, zooms in closer and closer on Norval’s face.
In the background a clearly discomfited Donald Robinson, walks about nervously and positions himself so he can better monitor the proceedings. He is clearly very concerned. His behaviour betrays that he is shrieking inside, “Don’t do that…!”
As the zoom gets closer to Norval’s eyes, it becomes clear that Norval does not respond in the slightest to this gross intrusion into his personal space. Not a flicker of any kind animates his eyes. He is clearly unresponsive to a clearly personally invasive human interaction; he is comatose… (See: Devastating CBC Video Zoom)
As one of Canada’s top cinematographers, and an editor, with some 136 international awards to his credit, I know the zoom went right in on Norval’s face and stayed there for some thirty seconds to a minute longer. It’s what we all do to get in close and personal with our zooms, and to give the editor all the cutting space he wants.
In fact the predictable camera shot never finishes, but cuts off abruptly in mid zoom. Which is an editorial no-no, because it upsets a viewer. It’s like dangling candy in front of a baby, and just as it reaches to grab it, you snatch it back.
As a professional film and television editor for almost forty years, I know exactly why this obvious editorial gaffe was made. The editor was distressed to see that the cameraman had gone to zoom in on a famous artist and discovered a “vegetable.” The zoom shows the awful embarrassing truth. The editor mercifully cut it short out of embarrassment for Norval, and for himself and his producer who both discovered that they had frontline seats on a personal tragedy. Both were animated by exactly the same protocol that stops us from filming bodies at accident sites.
This explains why Donald Robinson is acting so worried in the background of the shot. He had for years prevented video exposure of Norval to the world. Now the CBC cameraman was undermining all Robinson’s longstanding efforts at promoting Norval as the “Hidden Indian,” his attempt to hide from the world the true, debilitated, physical and mental condition of Norval Morrisseau.
Only a few months later his old drinking buddy from the 1980s, Gary Lamont, discovered personally, in Nanaimo, where Norval was in a terminal care facility, that “Norval had clearly left the building.”
Just how many years before, he “left,” is an open question.
But it is a devastating explanation for why the “Hidden Indian’s” white handlers have never provided any video record of any kind showing Norval either painting, or talking about forgeries – or anything else for that matter – during all those years.
May 18, 2005 – Norval Can’t Recognize His Dear Old Drinking Buddy Gary Lamont
In May, 2005, Norval received a visit, in Nanaimo, BC, from a dear old friend, Gary Lamont, a buddy from their Thunder Bay, Ontario, days in the 1980s.
Lamont had been introduced to Norval by his own father, a friend and neighbor of Norval’s in the 1960s. Gary became Norval’s drinking and pot-smoking buddy, his confidante, his cash cow for loans of cash, his source for canvas and paints, his landlord, and for over a decade, his art dealer. He was always, a friend in good times and bad, which was why he decided to visit his ailing friend Norval in his terminal care facility in Nanaimo, BC.
Libel & Slander – Yet despite the mountain of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, the Conspiracy Theorists say Lamont was a diabolical forger…
Why anyone with such a longstanding pipeline to all the cheap originals he wants, when Norval was still mentally sound and painting well, possibly resort to making cheap forgeries to sell, beggars the understanding of anyone but the lunatic delusions that fester in the mind of a Conspiracy Theorist.
Now, on May 18, 2005, Gary did the impossible, which no one else ever managed: to visit Norval before Gabe Vadas could stage manage a visit, by showing up at Norval’s unannounced.
Gary had private, “all alone time” with Norval, something no other visitor, no family member, no journalist, no TV interviewer, no radio host, no documentary filmmaker, ever managed in the last 12 to 15 years of Norval’s life.
Gary was to say, years later, that he was shocked at Norval’s mental condition.
Norval couldn’t even recognize him. Gary looked deep into his eyes, and there was not the slightest glimmer of recognition…
The shocking photograph he took, trying to look into Norval’s eyes to see if there was a glimmer of anything left, is a sad end to a very long and warm relationship.
And clearly Norval had been in this catatonic state for years…
In fact Wolf Morrisseau testified to Judge Martial, that as early as four years before, in 2001, Norval was mostly “gone” mentally, had only brief moments of lucidity left, during which he lamented to his brother that his memory, and recollections of past paintings, was gone.
Gary now saw Norval after four more years of physical and mental deterioration.
His final photo could easily have been taken of Margaret Hatfield looking into the vacant eyes of her Dementia and Alzheimer’s plagued mother in her final years… Trying desperately, but in vain, to hold on to something precious, but irrevocably gone years before.
Gary’s poignant and tragic photo was taken only four months before Gabe, once again, took Norval out of the terminal care facility, and carted him off to Ottawa for a photo op and meeting of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, where Donald Robinson claims Norval made all the preparations and selected all the officers of a newly founded Society, wrote its mission statement, picked out hundreds of sample fake paintings for the group, and personally assured him that the Wanker 16 paintings he showed him were all fakes.
The Society founding photo, featuring Norval as a prop, was taken just four months AFTER Gary took his sad “Nobody Home at the Morrisseau House” photo.
The photo is a monument to one of the most cold-hearted examples of elder abuse in Canadian history and demeans everyone who posed in it.
Mar 2005 – Norval’s Stunning Memory Loss Within two months of the time period when Gary Lamont discovered Norval was a total vegetable, a lawyer claiming to act for Norval Morrisseau sent a warning to a long-time and highly reputable fine art dealer, saying the gallery was committing fraud and violating Norval’s copyright on their corporate website which “purports to sell copies of our client’s original artwork pursuant to a copyright agreement with our client… Our client denies entering into such agreement or in anyway transferring or authorizing the use of his copyright.” (Letter, Mar. 15, 2005, from Eric N Hoffstein, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP )
To recap, the lawyer claims to quote a man whose son and close friend had just discovered is a totally comatose “vegetable.”
Hoffstein threatened to launch a legal action within 10 days to stop the alleged fraud.
The fine art dealer produced a letter from 1988, with multiple signatures by Norval, proving Morrisseau had agreed to give the gallery the right to buy the originals and make copies for sale, in perpetuity, of 21 paintings. Appended were 21 images, each one of which Norval had also previously initialed in the document.
This was not Norval’s mental failure, in March of 2005, in remembering only a single painting. Norval had, apparently, a total memory collapse of a huge agreement involving no fewer than 21 of his own paintings.
Devastatingly, Norval couldn’t remember the transaction and a document that he had signed 22 times.
Such a bulk deal was unprecedented, and would have been memorable to anyone except someone bedeviled by Dementia. Norval had signed away the copyright to duplicate and sell copies of 21 of his paintings, in perpetuity, for a total of $1,000.
A totally astonishing deal! What artist, or business manager, would ever forget such a disastrous agreement, done out of desperation, when times were tough?
Lousy Forgery Material – It also gives devastating evidence of the lousy value of Morrisseau paintings in the market in 1988. Why would anyone in his right mind want to forge art – like the Conspiracy Theorists claim – of an artist who gives away dupe rights in perpetuity for 21 paintings for under $50 apiece?
Yet Norval clearly had forgotten all about it, and now, obviously suffering from advanced Dementia, had no recollection of it at all. If he was, in fact, even consulted at all before the lawyer sent the warning letter…?
Furthermore, the deal had only been concluded, relatively recently, in 1988. And still Norval couldn’t recall, either the agreement attached to 21 specific paintings, each of which he had personally and prominently initialed, 22 times in all.
So much for the man Donald Robinson claimed had “total recall” of 10,000 paintings over a 50 year career. How does Robinson explain then, how in early 2005, Norval couldn’t even remember an amazing bulk lot deal of some 21 paintings from as recently as 1988?
What does that say about Robinson’s credibility, and Norval’s possible recollection of paintings from the 1970s, 1960s, and 1950s…?
Norval was not just forgetful about one –a single – painting, but of giving away the copyright as well, for 21 of them for next to nothing…
Vadas Art Terrorism: Gabe Vadas, Norval’s business manager, who had been wielding the artist’s Power of Attorney since 1990, had no such excuse.
Astonishingly, on the 21 painting deal Norval could no longer remember because of his catastrophic Dementia, Gabe Vadas had no such defence.
Vadas had personally witnessed and co-signed off, on the same 21 painting deal in 1988. And he was young and healthy in 2005, so he clearly remembered the deal, which explains why he ordered the Hoffstein letter to be sent in the first place, figuring private threats were worth a try to overturn the “bad deal” he signed off on in 1988. And so wring out some possible cash from a vulnerable and scared art dealer.
It was the Vadas “greedy white man” behaviour that Barry Ace reported at DIAND in 1995. (See Barry Ace 1995)
Vadas’ signature on the 1988 deal clearly shows he sent the Hoffstein letter with fraudulent intentions, figuring his private letter and diabolical machinations would never become public. And guessing that the art dealer would beg to settle rather than risk a lawsuit against the mighty name of Norval Morrisseau.
It is just another stunning example of Vadas and his lawyers ruthlessly wielding the Dementia-overcome Norval’s Power of Attorney to try to make a buck for themselves with their usual business modus operandi: terrorize a respectable art dealer and his/her genuine art, with threats of a lawsuit using Norval Morrisseau’s name.
And then with the dealer suitably scared and cowed, graciously agree to settle by offering to provide “genuine” replacement paintings the Morrisseau art cartel would provide.
In fact in the very same month and year, the white businessmen surrounding Norval’s wheelchair were using the very same tactic against Donna Child and Artworld of Sherway.
Donna Child testified Gabe Vadas, Michele Vadas, and lawyer Aaron Milrad tried to threaten her, in the very same timeframe, with an Affidavit of Forgery bearing Norval’s name. They tried to terrorize her with multi-level legal threats, phone calls, and emails. And they offered to replace her scores of genuine paintings, which they slanged as fakes, with new product from them…
Child refused to be intimidated by these ruthless wielders of the Dementia-debilitated Norval’s Power of Attorney. (see the story in Hatfield v Child)
It’s all a further testament to Vadas’ ruthless and legendary greed, which was embarrassingly displayed for all to see in the CBC “Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau,” which aired in February 2005. (See CBC video) (See Barry Ace 1995)
This is an echo of Barry Ace’s written description of the brash display of Vadas’ greed run amok, which he witnessed, in Ottawa in 1995, when he overheard Vadas strongly urging Norval, who was visiting the Government of Canada’s collection of Norval’s artwork and memorabilia, to take immediate action to repossess it all for themselves.
This stunningly greedy and mercenary proposal was too much for Norval who, writes Ace, demurred. (See Barry Ace 1995)
It was again, pitting a white man’s self-serving, private greed against an Indian’s desire to “share.”
In summary, in March 2005, Norval had demonstrably completely forgotten 22 signatures on 21 of his genuine paintings. We are expected to believe in that same month he had better recall of “Wheel of Life 1979” as a so-called forgery dating from ten years even earlier.
The proof is convincing that the Hoffstein offensive, certainly, and probably also the one against Child, were openly fraudulent attempts by the Vadas circle to wield Norval’s Power of Attorney, against what they expected would be scared gallery owners, as the Dementia-debilitated artist snored away in his terminal care facility.
2005 – Norval Says Not a Word About Fakes in “Return” – Norval had said not a word about fakes in the 1997 version of “Travels to the House of Invention.”
Now, eight years later, in 2005, with a re-issue and re-edit of the book as “Return to the House of Invention,” Norval again, chose to not utter a single word about so-called forgeries.
And this, stunningly, at a time when the whole Canadian art world is transfixed with the so-called Conspiracy Theory of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” that have hugely destroyed the marketability and valuations of his art. And that of other Aboriginal artists.
Yet Norval says not a peep, about so-called “forgeries,” or the controversy his art had started. Why not?
Because he couldn’t; he was physically and mentally incapable of communicating… Remember, two years before – in 2003 – he couldn’t utter a single word for the CBC camera. Now further debilitated by two more years of Dementia etc., he already had one-and-a-half feet in the next world as Gary Lamont discovered when he visited him the same year KRG issued “Return to the House of Invention.”
All the stuff issued to the public about Morrisseau fakes originates in one place and one place only, from the mouths of the two white businessmen and their lawyers clustered around Norval’s wheelchair, like Gabe Vadas, Donald Robinson, and lawyer Aaron Milrad.
And they clearly have sound, self-serving business reasons for doing so.
And remember, Gabe Vadas, with the Power of Attorney he had been wielding with an iron fist since 1990, could back up these spurious allegations – and did aggressively – with all the legal documents and legal threats they wanted to scare their business competitors into submitting to their will and, out of fear of a SLAPP suit, refrain from selling their Morrisseau paintings.
Leaving the field free for KRG salesmen to jump the prices on their own paintings.
2005 – Robinson Removes – holus bolus – all the “Sinclair fakes” in “Return to the House of Invention” – In 2008, Sinclair had alleged that five forgeries – “inferior counterfeits” he called them – were published by Norval and Robinson in their 1997 book “Travels to the House of Invention.”
When the new edition of “Travels,” was issued with minimal changes, as “Return” in 2005, the entire chapter containing the five alleged fakes, had been removed by Donald Robinson.
Is this further proof that Donald Robinson came to the same conclusion as Ritchie was to reach three years later, confirming of course that this would be more proof of Norval’s declining mental ability and advancing Dementia?
So either Norval, in one of his lucid moments, when he looked over the book, pointed out the alleged forgeries, or someone else did. And Robinson took drastic, but secretive, action to remove the embarrassing pictures.
(Remember, it was Robinson who published, in this very book, the fact that Norval needed “primary caregivers,” starting as early as 1990, a full fifteen years before…)
In fact nothing else was really changed in the book. It is hugely compromising that possibly the growing suspicion that the Dementia-debilitated Norval may have mistakenly put five fakes in his book, may have been the motivating factor in re-publishing a corrected version of an embarrassing chapter Donald Robinson wanted to forget.
Or cover up.
It was only three years later that Sinclair exposed allegations of the five fakes Donald Robinson had published in “Travels.” And only after he expunged all compromising connections to Norval Morrisseau, Donald Robinson, their book, or the Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Perhaps Sinclair had heard the confessional details from Robinson himself – Sinclair had been a private dinner guest at the Robinson’s in 1997 during the book launch of the first edition of “Travels.” It was, according to Donald Robinson’s court testimony, the first time they had met. They were to form an increasingly multi-level business association, as Conspiracy Theorists, over the coming years, with Sinclair being given unparalleled access to Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Sinclair has told the world and several judges that “I am a fine artist,” and has said that he is even the equal and the designated successor, of Norval Morrisseau. But tellingly, since they first met in 1997 and in the sixteen years since, Donald Robinson and Kinsman Robinson Galleries have never put on a show for Ritchie Sinclair’s art, or put him in the stable of artists their gallery has represented over the decades. Apparently they believe his talents lie in other directions.
Norval “Lazarus” Morrisseau’s Affidavits of Forgeries Issued 2003-2005
Bogus Affidavits of Forgery – And stunningly, the Hoffstein legal warning attached to 21 paintings neither Norval or Gabe Vadas could remember, came at the very time 2003-2005, that those notorious, infamous, and much flaunted Affidavits of Forgery bearing Norval’s name, started being sent to many of the leading business competitors of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Note: They were issued at exactly the same time that Norval’s old drinking buddy Gary Lamont had discovered that Norval was little more than a vegetable in his terminal care facility in Nanaimo.
At exactly the same time that Donald Robinson and the other white businessmen scrabbling for a place around Norval’s wheelchair claimed that Norval personally researched the thousands of low resolution jpegs of paintings from internet postings and gallery sales catalogues. And that the hundreds of supposed fakes, culled down from thousands were handpicked by Norval and added to the Affidavits.
These are, to my mind, as a professional historian, among the most disreputable documents in Canadian history, and are either the product of a mind in the last stages of Dementia, or fabricated by third parties who were not very bright and made many huge and inexcusable mistakes and extreme contradictions about the authenticity of paintings in each and every one of some seven different documents involved.
Repeatedly, the same paintings regarded as authentic in one Affidavit, are called “forgeries” in another, or vice versa. Or paintings provided to the media as authentic, are later called fakes in the Affidavits. Or paintings that were said to be in a gallery when they were not. Or are ascribed to one owner when he never had anything to do with them.
Judge Martial quoting from the “expert witness” (Donald Robinson) pointed out that even he allowed that Norval had memory problems from 2003 on.
The Affidavits are utterly worthless as historical documents purporting to offer proof of forgeries or authenticity, when the man on whose sole authority they rely for certainty has memory failings and is plagued by Dementia.
Let alone, being useful as court submissions to prove anything other than the private interests of the people who were behind drawing them up.
But they were clearly, utterly effective as aggressive business documents in a campaign to destabilize the Morrisseau secondary market, and damage the sales of Morrisseau paintings belonging to the main business competitors of Kinsman Robinson Galleries, to whom they were issued.
Joseph McLeod, who had been dealing with Morrisseau paintings since 1960, and remains a Morrisseau family friend to this day, was only one targeted dealer who attacked the so-called Affidavits of Forgery as incompetent, inaccurate, invalid, confusing, and just outright wrong on many levels.
In stark contrast to Donald Robinson, whose testimony was repeatedly “rejected” by Judge Martial, Joseph McLeod was notably singled out as a credible and informed witness: “He demonstrated a superior depth of knowledge of Morrisseau,” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p25) After he recounted his experience with trying to deal with clearly spurious documents, McLeod summed up the situation with:
“It was a mess.”
Judge Martial chose to quote McLeod’s testimony at length. (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: June 4, 2012 p54) quoted by Judge Martial (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p28)
Judge Martial quoted three key points made by McLeod:
– the Affidavits were a disaster of mega proportions
– it was “economically unsound” for a forger to copy Morrisseau whose “paintings were not selling,” who had “run out of customers who would buy” in the 1970s and after, and that
– the signature on one Affidavit, at least, was not Norval’s but forged.
The Cross Sommer Cross – When Joe McLeod was cross-examined by Jonathan Sommer, the lawyer for Conspiracy Theorist Margaret Hatfield, who was tauntingly accusing him of selling fakes, McLeod’s openly scoffing and combative replies (my interpretation from 10 feet away) to the aggressive questioning, can serve as the poster child replies that some forty other Morrisseau dealers, and hundreds of collectors across Canada would have given as well in the same circumstance.
They all believed the lawyers and their law firms were just making money by involving themselves in working on behalf of what was a business scam to control the art market in Morrisseau paintings behind the back of a comatose, stroke, Dementia, and Parkinson’s debilitated quadriplegic invalid in a wheelchair, who by 2005 could no longer even recognize his own son and best buddy during their visits to see him in a terminal care facility where he was locked up.
(Law firms do have a choice; they don’t have to take cases on behalf of serial pedophiles, mass murderers, or cases that stink to the high heavens. Tom Hagan made his choice.)
It is why, in spite of being served some 12 lawyers’ letters demanding they “cease and desist” from selling “their type” of Morrisseaus, or face immediate legal action, not a single one of the recipients – whether art dealer, collector, or auctioneer – has ever has stopped selling “their” Morrisseaus, or paid the slightest attention to the blustering and threatening mail from Conspiracy Theorist lawyers, like Purves Hickford Horne & Curry, Fraser Milner Casgrain, Dentons, Eric Hoffstein, Aaron Milrad, Zak Muscovitch, Chloe Snider, or Jonathan Sommer for that matter. But none of the lawyers ever followed through with what were clearly, all along, only intended as threatening SLAPP suits.
Sommer. All right. Now, besides the fact that he’s accusing you of selling fakes, there’s this last line, “These fake paintings will not be accepted for inclusion in the artist’s official catalogue, and will have little or no value.” Did that concern you at all?
(ed – Sommer here is reminding McLeod that his paintings will not be listed on the artist’s Catalogue Raisonné being compiled by the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society (NMHS) – the notorious branch plant operatives working for Donald Robinson and the Kinsman Robinson Galleries in Toronto. McLeod like hundreds of collectors, art dealers, and auctioneers across Canada, has only contempt for the toadying group of academics working hand in glove to promote the business objectives of KRG.)
Sommer. It didn’t concern you that a whole list of paintings that were, supposedly, in your catalogue were being disavowed and being called fakes by the artist?
Sommer. And it didn’t concern you that those types of statements would affect the value of those paintings, as he’s suggesting here?
McLeod. There’s one of them right there (ed- pointing to “Wheel of Life 1979” which Dr. Singla, a top Canadian forensic expert, called genuine, and Judge Martial himself, some ten months later also called genuine. Sommer called it a fake and still does as of Dec. 2013) and I’ve just told you that it’s worth $25,000. And so, the answer is, no. What you’re saying isn’t true. And it was garbled and didn’t make any sense. And if they had a leg to stand on they would have acted, and they didn’t. And they went out of my gallery and I never saw them again, so.
Sommer. No, but I’m saying when you issued that certificate of appraisal did you attach anything or did you include anything to indicate that there was this, and I think it’s fair to call it a battle between you and Norval Morrisseau over authenticity and over you selling fake paintings?
McLeod.I didn’t accept the fact that there was a battle between myself and Norval Morrisseau. At the time, Norval was pretty much beyond the business of what is being claimed here, and, in fact, I have never seen nor have I ever heard, at this stage of the game, Norval speaking. He couldn’t. His health was beyond it, and that’s why the signatures were so garbled. And so, I had a major concern with regards to the information that was being directed by his business manager through lawyers that I had never seen, telling me things that I didn’t, I didn’t believe.
Sommer. But you didn’t talk to him, did you?
McLeod. Nobody talked to Norval.
Sommer. Did you ask these lawyers for….
McLeod. Of course.
Sommer. You asked them for what?
McLeod. I was talking to them on the telephone, back and forth, quite frequently, and at that stage of the game, my feeling was that Norval was in a situation of elder abuse. He was being controlled.
Sommer. But you had no direct knowledge of that being the case, did you?
McLeod. I saw pictures of him, and you must have as well. He’s sitting in a wheelchair. His hands are arthritic to the point where he can’t move. His tongue is lolling out of his mouth and he can’t speak. And they’re showing you a 12-foot painting. He’d have to be hanging from a trolley (to have painted that – ed). So, logic leads me to investigate in every way that I could. Norval was being used.
Sommer. All right, let me ask you a clearer question then. How’s that? When did you first become aware that Mr. Morrisseau had an issue with you, whether, in terms of copyright infringement or in terms of selling fakes?
McLeod. Mr. Morrisseau and I never, at any time, had a difference of opinion with regards to his paintings, or with regards to my treatment of his work. There was never any conversation, or letter, or anything between Norval Morrisseau and my gallery with regards to what was happening in my gallery.
Sommer. So are you suggesting, then, that his lawyers, Purves, Hickford and Horne and Curry, as well as his representative, Gabe Vadas, had, essentially, gone rogue on him when they wrote to you?
McLeod. I don’t know what you mean by “gone rogue…”
Sommer. Well, I mean that….
McLeod. They were manipulating the man and manipulating me, yes.(Transcripts: Hatfield v Child, June 4, 2012, p 46)
2006 – Norval Can’t Recognize His Own Son – In powerful testimony, quoted in its entirety by Judge Martial in his judgment, longtime fine art dealer and Morrisseau family friend, Jim White, testified how by 2006, Norval “… could not speak, much less hire a lawyer, much less direct a lawyer to do anything.” It was his opinion after he had taken Norval’s son Christian to meet his father in his terminal care facility and noted how devastating the experience was for him.
The Plaintiff’s counsel, Jonathan Sommer, trying his best to contain the damage, openly scoffed at White (my characterization from seven feet away):
“So you knew that for a fact?”
“Yes I did.”
“Are you a doctor sir?”
(In fact Sommer himself did not know – or affected that he did not know – an important fact about Dementia, that: “there are very few qualitative differences between Alcohol Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and it is therefore difficult to distinguish between the two” and that “the biggest indicator is friends or family members reporting changes in personality…” (Alcohol Dementia – Wikipedia))
Like Margaret Hatfield about her mother; like Christian Morrisseau about his dad.
In probably the most passionate retort of the entire five day court proceeding, White shot back angrily, at Sommer’s deliberate attempt to minimize his credibility and testimony
Clearly stung to the quick, by Sommer’s intentionally snarky rebuff, White literally barked (my characterization from ten feet away) at the lawyer:
“I’m the man who took Norval’s son to see him and who was refused admittance because Gab. (sic) Vadas said, no one gets to see him. Not the family, not anyone. He did get to see him. Pictures were taken. Norval is sitting in the wheelchair with his tongue hanging out. He’s sitting with his son. His son is holding his hand and crying because his father cannot even recognize him. That’s why.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: June 4, 2012 p180) all quoted by Judge Martial (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p33)
It was a telling part of the transcript out of hundreds of pages that Judge Martial chose to include, in its entirety, to illustrate his 39 page judgment.
Ms. Hatfield, only seven feet in front of me, sat silently during this exchange, twitching noticeably. She must have hugely understood Christian’s tragic encounter with his father. She had, no doubt, experienced exactly the same thing with her own mother, who died at the very moment she became dragged into the Morrisseau forgery Hoax by the Conspiracy Theorists. She had tended her mother through years of advancing Dementia which must have made her unable to recognize her own loving care-giving daughter.
But for some reason Ms. Hatfield just wouldn’t connect the dots between the tragic parallel mental decline of her own mother and that of Norval Morrisseau.
She tried to pretend that Norval, who, like her mother, was actually (and obviously) in the final stages of Dementia, was in a completely mentally fit condition to discover “Wheel of Life 1979” as a fake on the internet, and add it to his Affidavit of Forgery.
Or her “advisors” wouldn’t let her think otherwise, for their own reasons, both business and personal, and to propagate their myth of a giant Conspiracy Theory.
Why all the feverish claims that Norval’s mind was still sharp as a tack?
That’s easy: the only, and entire Plaintiff’s case, charging that “Wheel of Life 1979” was a so-called “forgery” depended entirely on Norval Morrisseau being of sound mind in 2005, when his notorious Affidavits of Forgery were fabricated and sent out.
At a time when the overwhelming evidence from many sources – both direct and circumstantial – was that Norval was little more than comatose, being virtually incapable of mental function, and totally dependent on his “care-givers.” And, in fact, being manipulated, for business reasons, and for personal gain, by his white business partners and handlers.
Why Norval Never Calls – No one, not even friends who for years had been selling art he brought them, and were now accused of selling forgeries, ever recalls getting a phone call from Norval saying, “Hey Mac, you’re selling forgeries of my stuff. Stop or I’ll sue your ass off.” Why not if he was as sad and upset about it as Aaron Milrad claimed in a 2009 radio interview.
Why not? You ought to know the answer by now. He couldn’t talk; he couldn’t grab a phone; he couldn’t punch the numbers; he couldn’t remember paintings, people or anything at all basically, anymore… Dementia had claimed him for its own.
If Norval had a hand in the disastrous Affidavits of Forgery (2003-2005) – hell, his white business managers claim he originated and orchestrated them – they offer just more stunning proof, if any was needed, of Norval’s terrifying descent into mind-destroying Dementia. They prove he had clearly “lost it,” and could no longer tell his original paintings from so-called “fakes.” (As Wolf indeed testified in 2012 that Norval admitted to him as early as 2001) (See: Norval confesses to Wolf that Dementia has destroyed his memory.)
If indeed Norval was even involved – at this stage of Dementia – in the decisions, and giving directions to lawyers.
For all anyone knows, these could all have been cooked up entirely by the white men around Norval’s wheelchair, who, for years, had been aggressively wielding his Power of Attorney, as well as repeatedly publicly speaking up for the “Dumb Indian.” It is a telling echo of Aboriginal-white relations for the past two centuries of Canadian history.
2003 – The Affidavits Damaged Norval, His Art Heritage & First Nations Art – The notorious Affidavits of Forgery – bearing Norval’s name*** – which started to appear in March 2003 and over the next two years, ran counter to everything Norval believed, did not have roots in his “cultural values,” and were utterly destructive of his own works, their valuations, his art heritage and that of all First Nations art and artists.
(***Norval’s name was just show business for the Conspiracy Theorists, to give the bogus documents a semblance of respectability. Norval’s name was not necessary legally at all because Gabe Vadas had been exercising Norval’s legal rights since he took over his Power of Attorney thirteen years before in 1999.)
They are not offshoots of Indian culture, or from the sensibility of Norval Morrisseau; absolutely they came from the “greedy white men” who surrounded Norval’s wheelchair.
In fact, the Affidavits did the polar opposite of what Norval was all about; they totally destroyed his self image as a Diva.
They destroyed Norval’s art, his reputation, public trust in him, his art legacy, his art valuations for a generation, dealers who were promoting him, paintings he had painted, and fine art buyer trust in his art and in Aboriginal art generally.
Affidavits of Forgery were negative, restrictive, threatening, destructive, and unleashed a wave of nastiness across the Canadian fine art world of Norval Morrisseau.
The Affidavits of Forgery deprived Norval of the recognition that was his due as one of Canada’s very top artists of all time. Instead “greedy white men” Conspiracy Theorists slanged thousands of his genuine paintings as forgeries and publicly defamed his children as lousy and criminal forgers.
Instead of adulation, Norval Morrisseau was reaping a whirlwind of bad and negative press. Instead of flocking to him and his art, art buyers everywhere, shunned him, dumped his art, or refused to buy more. His art tanked in value; his fellow Aboriginal artists suffered from the ripple effect.
It was the total polar opposite of what Norval was all about.
It was the total polar opposite of what any Diva would ever want to happen to their self-image.
It was the perennial and constant clash between an Indian and the “greedy white businessmen” around his wheelchair, who had an entirely different agenda in mind than the ailing Aboriginal artist who never escaped the traditional “bush Indian” sensibilities of his formative years. Heck, he never really wanted to…
2003 – Norval the Internet Surfer – The image, Conspiracy Theorists like Donald Robinson would have us believe, is supposedly one of Norval in his wheelchair, studiously surfing the internet, late at night, banging away with his mouse, seeking forgeries among the thousands of his images that were posted there on numerous educational, art auction, and on art gallery web sites.
And then assembling them in his ACCESS database, breaking them down and grouping them by alleged culprit, and then directing Gabe Vadas to issue his Affidavits of Forgery, to people who just happen to be many of the main business competitors of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
It is also telling that those who received these Affidavits of Forgery never got original documents, just Xerox copies, with one page bearing an alleged signature of Norval Morrisseau, to which were added others with dozens of small, low resolution screen grabs, on separate pages.
Said one forensic scientist, to him the Xerox Affidavits looked like spurious “cut and paste” assemblies by someone, and did not resemble what genuinely sworn documents are supposed to look like.
Reality Check – Clearly, I’m joshing, about Norval surfing the net. Everyone knows that someone else was behind these bogus Affidavits. Someone else was doing the late-night surfing for fakes, picking the images they would target, and possibly, perhaps, putting – we assume – low resolution images in front of a comatose wheelchair invalid, before grabbing Norval’s hand, putting a pencil in it, and making him sign, so acknowledging as fakes hundreds of tiny low resolution screen images he couldn’t even see properly. Let alone understand.
“No fucking good:” And another thing: it is well documented in Jack Pollock’s writing that Norval had only contempt for documents which white men considered sacred, like invoices, legal documents, or treaties…***. When Pollock tried to give him an official receipt for paintings he was taking on consignment, Norval spat out “White man’s paper’s no fucking good.” (Pollock, Dear M, p39)
(*** “Oooops, sorry for the mistake!” – White men did not consider the historical treaties sacred, but just used them as a practical ruse to get Indians to sign away their land and their rights. The whites then almost immediately ignored the treaty promises they had made and failed to fulfill. Stories of the white man’s abuse of the treaty process were told to Norval by his grandfather. That’s why Norval wanted nothing to do with “white man’s paper.” It was part of Norval’s family education as an Aboriginal person about the machinations of “greedy white men.”)
Norval worked with Pollock – who was part Aboriginal himself – because he trusted him, not because of paper work and signatures none of which Norval trusted in the slightest. To him they were utterly valueless.
No doubt, to Norval’s mind a phony Affidavit of Forgery was no worse – had as much validity – as any other documents white men had been in the habit of fabricating in the past to victimize Indians. So Norval would have had no ethical or moral reason whatsoever, not to sign a fraudulent document – as to Norval they all were – especially if his “care-giver” would make some money from doing so. (If you assume that Norval was still mentally capable at this stage in his life.)
White men had routinely fabricated treaties that victimized Indians and fraudulently dispossessed them of their rights and land; a few phony Affidavits would have been regarded by Norval as marginal “pay-back” at best. Or playing by the white man’s rules; hell he was being advised by them… (see “Unfinished Business: Treaties with the First Nations”)
If you can’t picture the scene of Norval in his wheelchair at work behind his computer, or signing Affidavits, you may use the Ryan LeBlanc video to give you an idea. But instead of paintings, imagine him shuffling through paper pages or tapping away on a laptop computer on his lap instead.
Just remember though, Norval, three full years further down the road (we’re now in 2004/05) would have been in a much more comatose condition than in the LeBlanc video (early 2002). Dementia is a ruthlessly progressive condition; and Norval was a poster child candidate. So, however inept Norval looks in the LeBlanc video, when he worked on the Affidavits, in 2003-2005, he was three years further deteriorated, mentally and physically.
2003 – The Affidavits “Target Genuine Works” not Fakes – The evidence is pretty clear that the Affidavits were never intended to attack forgeries at all. And tellingly, not collectors or museums at all, but specific businesses and genuine Morrisseau paintings.
In other words, Norval, whether Dementia-plagued or a passively acquiescing collaborator, wasn’t at all a necessary participant in this business initiative which targeted his genuine works in the hands of other, competing, sellers in the secondary market. His white handlers were perfectly capable of picking the paintings and competing art retailers they wanted to attack without his help.
Because they had been wielding Norval’s Power of Attorney since 1990, fourteen years before, this was all easy to do all under a patina of legality.
We may assume that if Norval was involved – and mentally aware enough – and interested in protecting his artistic legacy he would have issued Affidavits to root out ALL the so-called forgeries. THIS THE AFFIDAVITS OF FORGERY SPECIFICALLY DID NOT DO.
We may be certain that neither Norval, nor protecting his painting legacy, were the reasons or the motive for them being issued in 2003-2005.
Specifically, the Affidavits were all aimed at the main business competitors of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries – like auctioneer Randy Potter – an observation made by Judge Martial as well.
“It was his (Robinson’s) opinion that Randy Potter sold some two thousand, (2,000) fake paintings… The Court finds it obvious that Potter would be seen as a significant competitor.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p6)
“It was also clear that his (Robinson’s) personal views and business interests conflicted with his professional opinion since it was in his interest along with Mr. Vadas to maintain the price of Morrisseau paintings which would not otherwise be the case if the market was flooded with paintings sourced from Potter auctions.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p38)
And a competitor who Judge Martial would find obviously sold genuine paintings not forgeries
2003 – The Affidavits “Target Businesses” Not Fakes – One of Robinson’s other business competitors, Gallery Sunami, was targeted with an Affidavit of Forgery for only five (5) paintings.
We own seven (7) Morrisseaus, and Donald Robinson very well knew it; he had been the under bidder at Randy Potter Auction in January 2000, on at least two of them. If Gallery Sunami got a cease and desist threat and Affidavit of Forgery for only five supposed “fakes,” then we should certainly have received one for seven supposed fakes.
They have been prominent on our educational websites for years, so Morrisseau and his business associates were clearly aware of them.
But we have never received any “cease and desist order” for any of these paintings, for a simple reason. We are collectors; we are not a perceived fine art retail business competitor of Donald Robinson or the Kinsman Robinson Galleries, and so were not considered as a threat to the KRG business like the others were.
There was nothing here, we point out, about ethics on any level, supposedly to clean up so-called fake art for Norval’s sake. It was all about a business offensive for KRG’s sake.
In spite of their name, the Affidavits’ of Forgery were clearly targeting business operations, not forgeries at all, or those collectors who had supposed forgeries. They were never intended to “clean up” the Morrisseau art heritage or purify his catalogue raisonné.
It was done strictly to defame and undermine competitive Morrisseau fine art businesses.
In short, the evidence is incontrovertible, that Norval, whose welfare was obviously not the raison d’être for the spurious Affidavits, (whether he signed them or not), wasn’t necessary to pick paintings or dealers who allegedly had fakes. It was done by his white business managers for business reasons for their bottom line.
2005 – Lamont Affidavit Never Served for Years, While Norval is Alive – There is one more Affidavit of Forgery that is devastating for what is says about Norval’s mental condition and the diabolical manipulations of the Conspiracy Theorists. Of the eight affidavits, that Gabe Vadas prepared and sent out from 2003 to 2005, one, dated Nov. 30, 2004, was targeting Gary Lamont, accusing him of selling 48 fakes.
But it was not sent to Gary Lamont while Norval was alive. Or given to him.
The Affidavit had been prepared and had no doubt been sitting on Vadas’ desk for months, when Gary Lamont showed up, unannounced, in Nanaimo on May 18, 2005, to visit Norval.
Years later, Gary told a confidant he was not given it even then, when Gabe could have handed it over personally to him, telling him to cease and desist selling 48 itemized forgeries. Gabe did not. Why not?
Because Gabe very well knew that Lamont had been very good friends with Norval for years before Vadas was. And that if Gary was to receive an Affidavit alleging he sold 48 fakes, he might very well make another angry, unannounced visit to express his outrage to Norval. And Norval with what little response he still might have left in his Dementia-debilitated body, would have been outraged and exploded against Vadas for filing a phony document.
With forty million dollars worth of paintings stashed away in the KRG gallery in Toronto – See the “Vadas/Robinson caper” – Vadas clearly did not want to risk upsetting Norval who might disinherit him totally for being a despicable “greedy white man” and victimizing a dear old friend.
2005 – 2013 – Every Single Affidavit Discredited by Scientists – The validity and truthfulness of the Norval Morrisseau Affidavits of Forgery are further hugely discredited because, by 2013, three of Canada’s top forensic scientists and handwriting analysis experts have been involved – separately and independently – in proving that every single Affidavit contains paintings that at least one of them has certified, with DNA certainty, to have been signed by the artist himself, and no one else. The Affidavits ALL signed by, or bearing the signature of Norval Morrisseau, are liberally sprinkled with genuine paintings. It seems clear Norval just can’t recognize them.
Scientific Certitude – Scientists validating that genuine works are sprinkled throughout the Affidavits of Forgery destroys utterly the credibility of the documents and the ethics of the people behind issuing them.
Random Samples – The findings are even more devastating in that the paintings culled for authentication, by independent scientists, were just randomly picked from the Affidavits. Stunningly, ALL came back, certified with DNA certainty, as genuine Morrisseau paintings…
Making it virtually certain that many, – we genuinely believe probably all – of the other paintings in the group had been picked for forensic analysis, they would also have been authenticated scientifically as genuine Morrisseaus.
Demented Morrisseau – This is further damning proof that Morrisseau – assuming he was involved in this – was so Dementia-plagued, in calling so many of his own genuine paintings forgeries – the scientists are unanimous they are his – that he could no longer tell reality apart from fantasy or his own past work from Picasso’s…
What more proof could possibly be needed to show that these Affidavits of Forgery are scathingly fraudulent and the people who issue them, claiming them to be genuine, as beneath contempt?
In other words, we are led to believe that apparently Norval has completely forgotten that he actually signed and painted numerous paintings, which he has supposedly later put on an Affidavit of Forgery.
The proof is devastatingly clear: someone with other motives did…
NOTE: In Aug. 2010, Dr. Atul K Singla, who has both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in forensics, specifically examined “Wheel of Life 1979,” which was listed on an Affidavit of Forgery, and declared it as authentically signed, with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau and by no one else. He testified to that effect in Hatfield v Child in 2012.
Judge Paul Martial Weighs In – And in a stunning rebuff, both to the Affidavits of Forgery and the Plaintiff’s expert witness in the case (Donald Robinson), Judge Martial strongly supported Singla’s finding of “Wheel” as being falsely defamed as a forgery.
And this, please note, is with the forgery selected by Norval’s white handlers as the “forgery” of their choice, not a painting forced on them. They picked what they claimed was the most obvious “forgery” for presentation to the court.
This case was NOT about only one painting – it was an attempt by the Conspiracy Theorists to try to validate their wild claims of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” in court, something they had never, ever tried to do before in over 12 years of allegations they had made.
With of course – good planning here – a little old lady school teacher squandering $50,000 and counting, of her own money, to advance, at no cost to them, the business claims and initiative of Donald Robinson, Gabe Vadas, and lawyer Milrad.
Wrote Judge Martial, “Based upon his testimony and his detailed forensic report referenced at exhibit 42, the Court finds as a fact that the painted black dry brush signature on the back of the painting Wheel of Life is that of Norval Morrisseau.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p32)
All just more devastating proof that when Norval called “Wheel” a fake, and put it on his Affidavit of Forgery, he was showing more telltale signs of ruthlessly advancing Dementia, than good judgment on any level. (If, in fact, Norval was capable of having anything to do with it.)
It’s damning proof again, of what Wolf Morrisseau testified Norval had confessed to him many years before (2001-2002):
“… he basically said that he is no longer in any condition to have a viable understanding of what he had done because he had Parkinson’s; it was taking so much from him. (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Feb 24, 2012 p116)
So in his mentally deteriorated condition, it would have been easy for Norval to fall prey to suggestions to sign this, that, and the other, of things he couldn’t recall, by the aggressive white businessmen surrounding his wheelchair.
Joe McLeod, the elder statesman of Morrisseau experts, gave voice to what everyone else who looked at the facts considered obvious, when he told Judge Martial that it was all a clear case of “elder abuse.”
2005 – Norval AKA “Lazarus” Founds & Directs the NMHS – The crowning calumny of the Conspiracy Theorists was unveiled in 2005, when the same Dementia-devastated Norval Morrisseau rises like Lazarus from the grave, and is propped up to perform one more Herculean intellectual task for the Conspiracy Theorists of white businessmen scrambling for advantage around his wheelchair: namely to found and direct the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society (NMHS).
The NMHS was purportedly set up, in 2005, to make an official list (Catalogue Raisonné) of all the paintings Norval painted in his life, and to dismiss, denounce – yes and even burn said their lawyer Aaron Milrad – the paintings they and the Conspiracy Theorists wanted labeled as fakes.
So the story goes, Norval personally picked the academics – today almost all are white people – who were on board and apparently perfectly comfortable with all this – including the burning of art.
Donald Robinson himself provided his infamous “Wanker 16” for them to use to know what kind of fakes he wanted them to identify and “burn,” in order to knock them out of competition with the kind of “authentic” Morrisseaus that Kinsman Robinson Galleries was selling.
In fact, far from being an arm’s length academic group, they were reduced – as their activities and pronouncements over the next eight years was to prove in spades – reduced to being only a hopelessly corrupt branch plant operation of Donald Robinson (ie the Chief Conspiracy Theorist) and the Kinsman Robinson Galleries of Toronto.
In line with an agreement with Donald Robinson, who also refused requests by investigative experts to get a hand on his notorious “Wanker 16,” the NMHS has scrupulously followed his diktat that they allow no public access to the art for investigators who are interested in seeing what kind of “fakes” they are using as a measuring stick for their cultural genocide.
Need we remind you that Norval called Donald Robinson, “The Shark in Still Waters” in big letters on the back of a painting with writing which has been certified, with DNA certainty, as having been written by Norval Morrisseau and by no one else?
Many informed investigators believe, with a certainty of around 110% that the “Wanker 16” are all genuine BDPs signed by Norval Morrisseau.
This secret NMHS society is perpetuating the same lack of transparency as practiced for years by Donald Robinson and the Kinsman Robinson Galleries. They know, perfectly well, as do leading experts on the Morrisseau file, that when Canada’s top forensic scientists, finally get a hand on the “Wanker 16,” the last prop supporting the biggest Hoax in Canadian history will come tumbling down and with it the reputations of Donald Robinson, Paul Robinson, John MacGregor Newman, the Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Greg Hill, Ruth Phillips, and Richard Baker, and anyone else on the NMHS.
Cultural Genocide with a Vengeance – Far from enhancing Norval Morrisseau’s Aboriginal art heritage – its ostensible aim in 2005 – the NMHS took fiendish delight in endorsing art that would help KRG product sell, while destroying tens millions of dollars of valuations of Norval’s genuine works in the hands of KRG’s business competitors and art collectors over the next eight years.
In fact Richard Baker, a lawyer and an early NMHS member, admitted in court, that he had “Jesuit Preist Brings Word 1979” in his office for ten days in June 2009, and that Donald Robinson, and his business associates, John MacGregor Newman (Associate KRG Director) and Ritchie Sinclair (KRG business associate) had come to his office to look at and photograph the painting. (Court Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair, Mar. 18, 2010).
Apparently the foursome then collaborated in agreeing to call it a forgery, which allegation Sinclair and Robinson then vigorously testified to in court in Otavnik v Sinclair later in 2010 before Judge Godfrey.
But Judge Godfrey, in his finding, disagreed completely with both their opinions and Robinson’s huge so-called “expert report,” that claimed the painting was a fake, and so did one of Canada’s top forensic scientists who certified “Jesuit Preist Brings Word 1979” as genuinely signed on the back, with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and no one else.
Ruth Phillips (of Ottawa’s Carleton University, would you believe?) and Greg Hill (of the National Gallery of Canada would you believe?) were two others who – taking their cue from Donald Robinson – made many, totally false denunciations of genuine Morrisseaus as fakes, which were subsequently ALL certified, with DNA certainty, by top Canadian forensic scientists as genuine Morrisseaus.
But we have seen no public apologies for their devastatingly false calls on genuine Morrisseaus from either the Robinsons, father and son, Newman, or the hapless members of the NMHS, notably Baker, Phillips, and Hill.
I am absolutely certain Posterity will judge this group of white men and women all harshly, without mercy, as just another lingering vestige of white post-colonial racism, in willfully destroying so much of Norval Morrisseau’s artistic heritage, and by ripple effect the art heritage of all Canada’s Aboriginal Artists.
A legitimate question remains: how many other genuine Morrisseau paintings have these misguided academics consigned to the ovens? Is it scores? Or hundreds? Donald Robinson has assured them there are over 4,000… (Need we remind you the sample he gave Judge Godrey as one that should be burned “Jesuit Preist Brings Word 1979,” was ruled genuine by the judge and later by a forensic scientist. And the sample he gave Judge Martial, “Wheel of Life 1979” as a fake, was also judged genuine by both the judge and Dr. Atul K. Singla.
In fact three of Canada’s top forensic scientists, acting independently no less, are batting 1000 to 0 against Donald Robinson and the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, and have ruled, some 70 plus times, without a single dissenting finding, as authentic, each and every painting this hapless group has put forth as a forgery. We are confident that no so-called art expert in world history, can rival Donald Robinson’s dismal record in false calls in misidentifying works he claims to be the world expert in.
The Conspiracy Theorists credit Norval with setting up the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, himself, in 2005, picking its officers, designing its mission statement, organizing its agenda, selecting the so-called “fake” paintings these preening academics were to use to tell the fakes apart from his authentic works.
Why? Because Norval has – let’s face it, the proof is overwhelming – for years, been a severe liability as a marketing tool. He had refused to die in a timely fashion; he could not do even short media interviews, “without supervision”; they couldn’t produce him in public; he couldn’t talk, or write, or paint, which is why no video, at all, exists of him doing any of that in the last dozen years of his life.
All they could do is drag him around in his wheelchair like a sack of potatoes, from one photo op to another, whenever they thought it advantageous to help their marketing initiatives.
They needed a more useful proxy to take his place, that could help promote the Conspiracy Theory and help lend credibility and promote sales.
The Conspiracy Theorist brainstorming produced the perfect solution: the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society made up of compliant and gullible academics.
A brilliant business move actually.
After all they had already successfully used a compliant and gullible press to spread the word successfully of “thousands of Morrisseau fakes by umpteen forgers” out there. It worked because mainstream journalist were just too lazy to practice due diligence and check out the claims. It was easier to just witlessly swallow whatever was fed them by Conspiracy Theorists hook, line, and stinker…
So, hey! Why not try the same thing with academics who live in the ivory tower of academia or in the sheltered world of public museums.
These sheltered “intellectuals” had no experience at all of the dirty tricks rampant in the art dealing world. They would probably be just as malleable and pliable as the mainstream media journalists had been so far.
It might be a good time to quote again, the man who had seen all this kind of stuff in the Canadian fine art scene over many decades, the art dealer who had given Norval his best years.
“… what the art world is like: scheming, manipulative, and, quite often, downright fraudulent.” – “Dear M: Letters from a Gentleman of Excess” – Jack Pollock, Norval Morrisseau’s longest (1962-1981) & most successful (12 shows) dealer
And Toronto lawyer and international art expert on all kinds of art fraud, fakes, and forgers, Bonnie Czegledi:
Point of Illumination: Alone of all the “greedy white men” that Norval was involved with in his career, he has left glowing “Confessional Diary” paintings only of Jack Pollock. Whereas he denounces Robinson, Ross, Sinclair, etc. as being ethically challenged, he signs huge BDP paintings to Pollock as “friend.” Pollock is the only white man who gets positive thanks in Norval’s diary, instead of a scathing dismissal.
If you want to see video footage of how Norval would have looked, as he rose from his wheelchair, as he supposedly “took charge” to do all this complex NMHS organizing, look at the LeBlanc video from early 2002, where Norval is shown in a similar action, supposedly busy supervising the authentication of his works.
As you look at the video just imagine that, instead of the canvas on his knee, that he has a laptop there, is cruising the internet… and is using his mouse vigorously to track down all the diabolical fakes in the world.
Just remember, though, you have to add four (4) full years of progressive Dementia to Norval as you see him in the video, to picture him as he looked when he supposedly directed and set up the NMHS and hand-picked its officers. (As claimed by the NMHS, and Donald Robinson.)
Now, do you believe that Norval Morrisseau is even marginally capable of being in any way involved in setting up the NMHS, let alone taking an executive role? Or is he just a helpless proxy and rubber stamp being used by his white business handlers and their willing academic dupes?
“The Master of the House of Invention” – In fact I believe the evidence is overwhelming, that it was not Norval at all, but Donald Robinson, the “Master of the House of Invention,” who orchestrated the setting up of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society as an adjunct to his business operations.
In fact, Donald Robinson gave the NMHS the benchmark standard they were directed to use for detecting all forgeries, by giving its members the notorious “Wanker 16,” for denouncing and rejecting fakes.
The Wanker 16, you may remember are a group only because they are all that remained of the 31 paintings Robinson bought at Randy Potter Auctions, and failed to sell. (see Wanker 16)
In other words, Robinson transformed these paintings he had bought at Randy Potter Auction for a considerable sum, into a creative tool to recycle unprofitable Morrisseau painting inventory the Kinsman Robinson Galleries had left over.
If they couldn’t bring in direct dollars they might become promotional tools to create a “ripple effect” of profitability down the road by tarnishing similar Morrisseau product in the fine art galleries of his business competitors.
“Bryant the Snake” – In fact Bryant Ross, of Coghlan Art Gallery (Aldergrove, BC), a founding member of the Conspiracy Theorists, also devised another ingenious way to deal with unsalable Morrisseau paintings in his inventory. After years of trying to sell one BDP painting, “Water Spirits 1979,” on ebay, at Seahawk Auction (Maple Ridge, BC), and on his Coghlan Art corporate website, where he posted it for sale for a long time for $12,000, he just decided to recycle it and use it to make a statement about forgeries and proceeded to deface it in front of TV cameras he brought in for publicity to promote his Conspiracy Theory of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers.”
(He then supposedly burned it to prove it was a worthless fake, though, inexplicably this most crucial test of his belief, was NOT done in front of the cameras. A cynic might well ask: before he painted an “X” across the canvas, had Ross spray-protected the acrylic beforehand, so new layers – like the “X” – could be easily removed to retain the value of the original painting? It could explain why the irreversible destruction by burning was not done when people were watching and recording.)
Bryant Ross Disclosure – I visited Bryant Ross’ art gallery (Coghlan Fine Art), in the old hydro building in Aldergrove, BC, in 2005. He told us our Morrisseau paintings which he had not seen (all genuine BDPs which we feature on this blog) were so-called “fakes.” That the Morrisseaus he had for sale, which were large paintings laid out on the floor, as he personally toured us through the various floors of his old hydro building, were “direct from the artist.”
We did not at all, like the looks of any of them. These so-called “Morrisseaus” from Norval’s “invalid wheelchair period,” compared poorly with hundreds of others we had seen at Randy Potter Auction, museums, and elsewhere.
They totally lacked the design and finesse we had long associated with genuine Morrisseaus. They seemed stiff and clumsy as if they were “fill in the numbers” kinds of Walmart art.
Furthermore, all were blank on the back. So there was absolutely no way to have a handwriting analysis expert to confirm the authenticity of what a “motivated businessman” would have you believe was genuine. And set your mind at ease about things like: you know, did Norval have anything to do with them?
And they were also large at a time when Norval Morrisseau was wheelchair bound and would not have been able to paint a large work of any kind, for a decade or more.
Note: Years later, I had a “Eureka moment” which illuminated a lot of awfully troubling questions I had when looking at the Ross “Morrisseaus,” when I read Karl Burrows’ statement which included a reference to Bryant Ross and his Coghlan Art Gallery, only a few months before I visited it.
“In Feb., of 2005 Gabor Vadas was in control of Norvals (sic) business affairs and in need of funds. I had finished some large canvas paintings, and brought them to Norval,s (sic) house in Nanimo (sic.)… Norval was able to sign a few paintings that day but not all that were ready, so he asked me to sign for him, I did. Gabor Vadas was aware of this and directed me to Bryant Ross. Bryant Ross offered these paintings for sale and sold them.” (Statement by Karl Burrows, Aug. 5, 2009)
Clearly these paintings were among the very ones that my wife and I saw when Bryant Ross showed them to us only a couple of months later in his gallery. We were not among the unlucky buyers, who if Burrows can be believed, ended up with total forgeries, including Norval’s name.
So how believable is that? How valuable are Coghlan Art Gallery “letters of provenance and authenticity.” How credible is Ross, as a Morrisseau expert? As a fine art retailer? As an ethical businessman?
We have one independent authority on this, Norval Morrisseau, himself… He knew Ross when he hired him in 1989 as his business manager, a position he was to hold for 18 years. If Norval could not size up this man accurately, then no one could.
Norval’s Diary Denounces “Bryant the Snake 1988” – One of Norval’s fabulous “Diary” paintings features “BRYANT THE SNAKE.”
In his numerous private “confessional Diary” paintings, recently uncovered in a private collection, Norval is scathing about the morality and ethics of the “greedy white men” who, in desperation, he threw in his lot with in 1989. He had met Ross in 1987.
Dictionary: “Snake – a treacherous person; an insidious enemy. Compare snake in the grass.” (Source: Dictionary.com)
Forensically Certified – And yes, since you asked, the huge BDP signature on the back has been forensically certified, by a top Canadian hand-writing analysis expert, with DNA certainty, as being written by Norval Morrisseau and by no one else. And this was painted when no one challenges that Norval was not mentally and physically capable and able. He knew what he painted and he meant it, with finality. He did not trust Bryant Ross.
Norval, in offering his compromising take on his white business manager, is in effect, offering corroborating backing for Karl Burrows’ claim of the unethical things he said were going on with Burrowsseau paintings he provided Ross in 2005, who sold them as Morrisseaus.Norval knew all about it but he didn’t give a damn. He was a virtual quadriplegic; he was sick; he was old; he couldn’t paint; he was poverty-stricken, and desperate for money. (See: Geddes, “such a sad answer.”)
In fact when Donald Robinson started to claim all BDPs and all Randy Potter paintings were fakes, we allowed an independent forensic scientist to examine the handwriting on the back of two of these so-called “fake” paintings, on two different occasions.
Before you ask, NO, we did not pay for it. Would the Louvre pay to have a forensic scientist certify the authenticity of the Mona Lisa? Someone else, who agreed with us that both were very historically significant paintings in helping expose the Hoax, did.
Both came back – no surprise to us at all – as authentically signed by Morrisseau, with DNA certainty.
You can’t do a similar DNA check with any other paintings supposedly painted by Norval Morrisseau and sold by Kinsman Robinson Galleries after 1990. They were all blank on the back. Handwriting experts do not deal with Cree syllabics.
Donald Robinson went out of his way, to assure Judge Martial, that ALL his 1990s paintings were blank on the back, (including the KR1-KR384 “heist” paintings) and not a single one of them was signed in BDP style.
Just further proof, that Norval, who had hugely and vigorously and firmly signed thousands of BDP backs in the 1970s and 80s, with Parkinson’s etc. attacking him in the early 90s, just couldn’t manage a straight line anymore. It’s only common sense that Donald Robinson would instruct Norval, to “not bother signing the backs anymore.” That shaky signatures would just needlessly undermine buyer confidence…
2006 – Marlow Goring “Old Drinking Buddy” Shocker – Marlow Goring, a fine art framer and retailer for over thirty years, had done much of the picture framing for Norval’s shows in both Vancouver and Ottawa. He was a one-time drinking buddy of Norval’s back in 1979, and testified he got a huge shock when initially Gabe Vadas brought Norval to his gallery in 2006, for a new show of his paintings that Marlow had mounted.
Judge Martial quoted his testimony at length in his judgment.
“A. Yeah, I’ll never forget it. He was strapped into a wheelchair in the back of a cargo van. His head was slumped over like this.
Q. When you say ‘like this’, you have to indicate for the record…
A … it looked like he had no muscle control in his neck and he was slumped in his chair, head off to the right side, and he had crumbs all over his sweater that he was wearing and he was drooling.
Q. Okay, and did you say anything to him?
A. I was shocked. I said, oh my God, I think, was the first thing I said, and I said, hi Norval, how are you. I mean – and there was; no recognition whatsoever. And he would have recognized had he been of, you know, clear mind, I think.” (Court Trans/Hatfield v Child: Jun 4, 2012 p84) quoted by (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p30)
Reality Check – This was a full year after Gary Lamont reported that Norval couldn’t recognize him anymore. It was the same year Norval’s son Christian was shocked to discover that his Dad no longer recognized him. It was also only a few months after Donald Robinson claims that Norval personally examined Robinson’s infamous Wanker 16 paintings, assured him they were all fakes.
Remember, Marlow’s encounter with Morrisseau happened only a few months after Norval supposedly orchestrated the issuing of multiple Affidavits of Forgery, listing hundreds of so-called fakes that he had supposedly picked out himself, and only a few months after Robinson claimed Norval had supposedly set up the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, picked its officers, created its mission statement, and set up the machinery to set it in motion.
The Puppet & the Puppeteer – Marlow said Gabe Vadas then wheeled a comatose, hunched over and drooling Norval around the art gallery display room and then back to Marlow.
Marlow watched Gabe bend his ear close to Norval’s mouth, as the latter dribbled some indecipherable gibberish, and grunts. Gabe straightened up and said, “He said your paintings are all fakes.”
Marlow was aghast. And said “OK, let’s set a date, and I’ll bring in the RCMP so you can repeat your complaint and show your proof in front of some law officers.”
Marlow never heard from Gabe Vadas or Morrisseau again…
This puppet and puppet-master relationship, of Vadas translating for Norval and interpreting for him when everyone else only heard grunts or wheezes from the Dementia-plagued artist, has been recounted by others. Remember this is some five years after Dolly McGuire left Morrisseau in a mall in Thunder Bay, because “I could not understand him.”
How much did Norval’s incoherent gibberish deteriorate even further over the next five years?
Only Gabe Vadas never had a problem interpreting what Norval was drooling on about… And those skeptics who couldn’t make out a single word Norval said, were speedily silenced by Gabe who claimed that Norval was speaking Ojibwe, which Gabe preposterously claimed he understood.
Furthermore, Marlow Goring also gave strong statements that he had personally seen Norval sign the backs of multiple paintings in black paint both in Vancouver in 1979, and Ottawa in 1982, at a time when Donald Robinson had nothing whatsoever to do with Norval Morrisseau.
Certified BDP – Marlow testified that in 1982 he was working late in his Ottawa framing store, busy framing up Norval Morrisseau’s art for a show to happen next day, when there was a knock at the door.
It was a grinning Norval carrying a brush and black paint in a large blue Chase & Sanborn coffee tin. “I forgot to sign my paintings on the back.” Marlow let him in and while he continued to frame Norval’s acrylics, watched till the wee hours, as Norval signed, titled, and dated all his pictures with black paint in his now-famous BDP style.
Goring’s testimony was cemented into place with an affidavit from Deiter Voss who swore he witnessed Norval do the same thing to two BDP paintings he owned.
Robinson, you may remember, swore in court that Norval never signed the back of his painting with black paint – ever.
A claim Judge Martial totally rejected, saying that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Norval signed his paintings this way.
It was, again, such a huge divergence in the believability of testimony that Judge Martial was asked to weigh, that in the end he saw no choice but to “reject” holus bolus, with finality, the testimony and “expert reports” of Donald Robinson.
Nothing the “Principal Morrisseau Dealer” claimed about Morrisseau, or his art, could be verified with countless other independent authorities with documentary evidence.
Judge Martial found – the facts shown the court couldn’t possibly have allowed him to come to a different conclusion – that Morrisseau himself, clearly in the clutches of Dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and assorted complications from Alcohol Dementia, was not reliable either, about his past art or documents published bearing his name.
In fact Judge Martial quoted back to Robinson his own testimony where Robinson allowed there were occasions when Norval couldn’t remember his own paintings, and that he was “unreliable.”
“Mr. Robinson also agreed that Morrisseau could have had memory problems during the years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and certainly in 2007.” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: Mar 25, 2013 p13)
In fact as we have documented above, Robinson, himself, is on the record as stating Norval was in need of “primary care” as early as 1990. We have documented other possible major memory lapses as early as 1993, and 1997.
2006 – Norval “No Show” in Otavnik v Vadas (for Morrisseau) – In 2006 Joe Otavnik told Norval Morrisseau and Gabe Vadas to “put up, or shut up” about his claim that Joe was selling “forgeries.” Very cleverly, and absolutely sure of his painting, Otavnik challenged Vadas and his lawyer to bring Norval himself to court to display his proof of forgery in front of a judge.
Here was the chance Norval, his lawyer Aaron Milrad, and his business manager Gabe Vadas, had all supposedly been waiting for: a chance to have Norval personally denounce the fakes in front of a judge and via the media to Canada and the world.
Instead they all ran for the exits – big time…
Knowing all the background now, about Norval’s severely mental and physically debilitated condition you already know why Morrisson’s lawyer Aaron Milrad, Vadas, and Morrisseau chose the Exit instead of the Witness Box.
In fact Vadas had sworn in his Defendant’s Claim filed by Aaron Milrad’s law firm, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, that:
“5. – Mr. Vadas confirmed with Mr. Morrisseau that the impugned paintings were not his works and advised Heffel that the paintings were not authentic. 6. Mr. Vadas states, and the fact is, that the impugned paintings were not painted by Mr. Morrisseau.” (Otavnik v Vadas, Defendant’s Claim, May 8, 2007)
Dementia or Deception? – If Norval had really been consulted as Vadas claims, then he was mentally fit enough to testify in front of a judge. Since Norval was obviously fit enough, at the time, to travel across Canada and appear for photo ops at the National Gallery of Canada and to promote sales of KRG paintings, why could he not be brought before a judge to denounce forgeries if they really existed? And the integrity of his art heritage?
One answer is obvious: Gabe had NOT consulted Norval because his Dementia made him unreachable. That Norval had no clue what Vadas and the “greedy white men” around him were doing with his Power of Attorney.
That’s why they colluded to continue making Norval the “Hidden Indian,” and not put him in front of a judge, to put off for as long as possible, the day of reckoning, when the entire Morrisseau Hoax would come crashing down on the “greedy white men” who had perpetuated the worst case of elder abuse in Canadian history.
Clearly bringing the Dementia-devastated artist before a judge would have been a courtroom disaster of epic proportions.
First the judge would have seen that Norval couldn’t TALK, and would then have asked how Vadas, and Milrad who said he was Norval’s lawyer, could possibly claim they heard Norval say Otavnik’s paintings are fakes?
The judge would also have seen that Norval couldn’t COMMUNICATE and would have asked Vadas and lawyer Milrad, who would presumably have accompanied Norval in court, how Norval communicated to them that the hundreds of paintings listed on Affidavits of Forgeries were fakes?
(We are assuming for the sake of argument that Norval wanted to denounce forgeries, which Wolf Morrisseau testified his brother was never interested in doing anyway. Besides, Norval’s son Christian, and a close friend, Gary Lamont, who had both visited Norval separately in early 2005 and 2006, said, Norval couldn’t recognize either of them anymore. Now we are a full two years later…)
The Vadas and lawyer Milrad claims of proof of so-called forgeries would have been dead in the water; worse yet, publicly exposed with devastating consequences for their business plans and reputations.
The judge would have had just cause to accuse them of being involved in BOTH a fraud, and elder abuse, in using a Dementia-debilitated, virtual human vegetable to make false allegations. It would have been a guaranteed, hands-down victory for Joe Otavnik in front of the judge. And via the media to all of Canada.
Norval and his handlers clearly could never chance triggering such an epic and virtually certain fiasco.
Everyone involved obviously knew that.
Otavnik, was so absolutely certain of his ground that he brashly demanded the artist appear in front of a judge; and Vadas, Morrisseau, and his lawyer, Milrad, who absolutely knew they could never produce the Dementia-debilitated artist in front of any independent observer, knew they had been sucker-punched by an art dealer who refused to be intimidated.
Remember they had taken every care to make Norval the “Hidden Indian” for years, they had never provided him for television interviews or produced video footage of him painting, during the last 17 years of his life. We believe they did this to hide his obvious numerous infirmities and prevent the public from starting to question whether Norval was really still capable of painting anything credible in his “wheelchair invalid period” after the early 90s.
No wonder, the courageous Otavnik challenge, demanding they produce Norval in court caused a huge panic among the Vadas clique.
The Heffel boys had folded like a cheap suit when the Vadas clique threatened them and ordered them to de-list Otavnik’s genuine Morrisseau paintings from their auction.
Otavnik was made of sterner stuff, and unlike the Heffel boys, knew his art and his opponents. Scared out of their tree by Otavnik’s demand to see them in court, Vadas, lawyer Milrad, and Morrisseau looked for an escape hatch…
Never before in Canadian history has an art collector dared to challenge the honesty and integrity of a major artist regarding his own work, and dared him to show up in court to denounce paintings as forgeries, only to watch him slink away and ask for a secret side deal rather than expose the false claims he and his white businessmen were making, to the completely predictable and justifiable wrath of a judge.
Except that, blessedly, poor Dementia-debilitated Norval probably had not the slightest inkling of what was being orchestrated in his name, with the Power of Attorney he had signed over to them in 1990…
Noraval is Comatose -Which is why the best legal advice was to absolutely not produce Norval in court, but opt for something equally embarrassing, but less public: pay Otavnik for paintings the trio had called fakes and had successfully ordered Heffels in Vancouver, BC, to remove from their auction.
Lawyer Milrad Disaster #1 – So in June 2008, they paid off Otavnik with $11,000 for two so-called fakes. It was a huge black eye and stunning legal defeat of epic proportions for Norval Morrisseau (now dead), his lawyer, and the other white businessmen around his wheelchair.
2006 – Donald “No Show” Robinson at Norval’s National Gallery Retrospective – Can you imagine a long-time fine art dealer who claims, for some 18 years, to have been the “exclusive dealer” for a major artist, not bothering to show up for the most singular landmark exhibition in his artist’s entire life?
Would the artist not get angry, consider it a snub, and dump the dealer? What businessman would possibly risk the obvious?
And remember, this is only a few months after Robinson says Norval hugely orchestrated and directed him to set up the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, in a move which would hugely help his KRG sales by setting up a mechanism whereby hundreds of so-called fakes – all picked by Robinson and belonging to his main business competitors – would be defamed, while his own product would be promoted.
Yet skipping out on Norval – no quid pro quo from him for his loyal artist – is exactly what Donald Robinson appears to have done. He grouchily – my read from 10 feet away in the courtroom – admitted under questioning by Ritchie Sinclair (during Otavnik v Sinclair in 2010) that in fact he had totally “skipped out” on the Morrisseau show at the National Gallery of Canada honouring Canada’s first Aboriginal artist to be given a retrospective by Canada’s premier art gallery.
“Q. Right. Did you attend that, were you at the 2006 National Gallery show of Norval Morrisseau?
Q. I wondered. I didn’t see you.
A. No, I did not attend.” (Court Trans/Otavnik v Sinclair: Nov 16, 2010 p131)
Skipping out on Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, whom he claimed to have been the “exclusive representative” for, for 18 years, and who had made millions for his family-owned and operated business, is nothing less than a snub of gigantic proportions.
What kind of payback is that, for an artist, an elderly ailing and virtual quadriplegic invalid, who had still, in spite of egregious and obvious infirmities, repeatedly, gone out his way for years, to fly across the country and attend virtually every show and exhibition Donald Robinson ever gave for him, to help promote his Kinsman Robinson Galleries business? (Robinson himself testified to Norval’s diligence in this respect.)
Robinson’s admission, to skipping out on Norval this way, was a truly stunning admission that everyone else in court missed – there were only five people in the public gallery at most. And no one read the court transcripts to discover this last sad chapter in Norval’s life as an artist.
It’s a crucial and telling moment; added to all the other evidence, it is a damning corroboration that Norval was mentally, effectively “dead.” And he had been for years.
“Norval has left the building…” – But aside from being an obvious social snub of Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, and seemingly, a gross business gaffe of major proportions, the “skipping out” is completely understandable, to all those who had intimate knowledge of Norval’s totally deteriorated mental condition at the time, including: Wolf Morrisseau, Christian Morrisseau, Marlow Goring, among numerous others.
As all the previous case history shows – and Robinson also knew – Norval was never “in” Ottawa at all – only his body was, being shunted around in his wheelchair by Gabe Vadas, like a slab of meat on a trolley for the requisite photo ops to promote his business.
Totally corroborated by the fact, that Vadas had been using Norval’s Power of Attorney for 16 years, since 1990.
Norval had clearly “left the building” years ago, and Robinson very well knew it. And knew as well that Norval would never know if his Principal Morrisseau Dealer was in Ottawa to celebrate his artist’s crowning achievement or not.
And that Norval was far beyond being capable of exacting any kind of punishment against the dealer whom he had dealt with for some 18 years, and made millions of dollars for.
When Norval finally died a year later, everyone knew it was only his savagely deteriorated physical remains that perished. The documentary record is clear and incontrovertible that Norval’s mind and memory had died many years before…
It is no wonder that Judge Martial clearly dealt a major blow to these supposedly Norval-originated Affidavits of Forgery, “bearing Norval’s name” when they were brought up as evidence that “Wheel of Life 1979” was on one such list, and noted as a supposed “forgery.”
2007 – Norval “No Show” in Michael Moniz v CTVGlobemedia
Lawyer Milrad Disaster #2 – Norval’s disastrous Dementia disability was illustrated again, thanks to Gabe Vadas, and his lawyer, Aaron Milrad, a few months later, when the duo, again claiming “Norval made them do it,” pushed the Globe and Mail’s Arts Columnist, Val Ross, into publishing their allegations that aggressively defamed a reputable art dealer, Michael Moniz, as a creep selling Morrisseau forgeries, and claimed that his painting “Father and Son 1977” was a fake. The defamed painting was used to illustrate the article.
A libeled, outraged, and informed Morrisseau collector, Michael Moniz launched a legal action v CTVGlobemedia.
Independent forensic scientists went on to certify the Moniz paintings which arch Conspiracy Theorists, lawyer Aaron Milrad and Gabe Vadas, claimed to Val Ross were fakes, were instead, entirely authentic, with DNA certainty, making it clear that the duo should stick to something they know about: Vadas, pushing wheelchairs for Dementia-debilitated quadriplegics, and lawyer Milrad to lawyering, and to quit dabbling in Morrisseau art authenticating.
Let alone getting paid to publicly spread false rumours to devalue the legitimate Canadian art holdings of the business competitors of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Rather than ethically confronting Moniz with their proof in court, lawyer Milrad’s and Vadas’ faux pas was so huge, they ran for the hills, leaving the Globe and its lawyers alone in a panic, realizing that they and their top Arts journalist had been “had” by Vadas and lawyer Milrad and their ludicrous claims. The Globe’s lawyers, advised its clients, that rather than face the wrath of a judge with this kind of real devastating proof, to settle out of court with Moniz for some $25,000 for falsely and maliciously defaming him and his painting. And to consider themselves lucky to get off with $25,000…
Lawyer Milrad’s and Vadas’ false claims had utterly disastrous consequences to Val and her employer. And by extension underlined again, lawyer Milrad and Vadas’ hopeless incompetence in judging Norval’s work, and underscored again, more evidence of Morrisseau’s obviously Dementia destroyed mind. He was unable or unwilling to become a witness in support of a claim of forgery his white business partners were trying to make.
(Only, we repeat, again, only to another dumb journalist; they again refused to expose their case and their main witness, Norval, to the wrath of a judge in open court.)
So the Moniz paintings which Vadas and lawyer Milrad had claimed – without credible proof of any kind whatsoever – were forgeries, were authenticated by default: neither the artist nor his white business partners could prove that what they were saying was true, was indeed honest!
In other words the paintings were confirmed as being what Moniz claimed in the first place, genuine Morrisseau paintings. And the Globe lawyers went along with that, paying a huge penalty, for having said otherwise, and refusing to carry on their side of the dispute in court.
Collateral Damage #1 – Val Ross, under extreme stress at the Globe, and gulping anti depressants, was further depressed with this disastrous end to her career (see Jan Wong’s “Out of the Blue” on Val’s depression). Ross died within months, no doubt rushed to an early grave, I am convinced, with the malicious help of diabolical Conspiracy Theorists who had used the trusting – OK, gullible – reporter for their own ends.
Collateral Damage #2 – Michael Moniz too, would end up being a victim of the calumny, and would die in April 2013, as he never recovered from the devastating destruction to his business, his personal, and private life that the lawsuit entailed.
Weeks before he died – the only time I ever met him or talked to him*** – he told me, even though he won his case against the Globe, got a huge financial settlement, and had his paintings authenticated, he was utterly stressed out, from the diabolically false and destructive charges made by Vadas and lawyer Milrad, and aired by the Globe, and that his personal life and business, both destroyed by the experience, never really recovered or stabilized afterwards. (See Affidavit from Moniz & Sinclair email)
(***When I first met (or ever talked to) Michael Moniz, some months after I started this blog (Jan 2013) he shook my hand with his own two, harder than anyone has ever done in my life. He looked me sternly in the face. “I think you know why?”
I already knew the awful price the malicious and false accusations by Vadas, Milrad, Ross, and the Globe, had cost him – his wife, his job, his business, his health – which he outlined in a devastatingly heartfelt sworn Affidavit to us. Neither of us would guess that worse would come, only a few weeks later.)
You can guess how much lawyer Milrad chipped into the kitty for the huge settlement the Globe had to pay Moniz, for having falsely fed its Arts columnist such totally bogus information about a so-called Morrisseau fake that the artist – for whom he had lawyered for years – couldn’t even recognize – or chose not to – as his own authentic painting? (see: Moniz v CTVGlobemedia)
2007 – Donald “No Call” Robinson at Norval’s Death – The day Norval died in Toronto, Gabe Vadas, Donald Robinson, and lawyer Aaron Milrad, knew immediately. But none of them called Norval’s Aboriginal family to tell them that their father, brother, uncle, and grandfather had died.
They chose to keep it secret. Like so much else associated with these men.
Norval’s family, living in remote northern Ontario towns, would not receive the news of Norval’s death for two whole days and then only when family friend and art dealer Jim White called them up to offer condolences and see if they needed airfare to attend the funeral.
White was aghast when they told him they were unaware of Norval’s death, and that they had been told nothing by Norval’s “primary care-giver” Gabe Vadas, or Norval’s Principal Morrisseau dealer, Donald Robinson.
Not even Aaron Milrad, the man who claimed he was Morrisseau’s lawyer for years, who had been the paid mouthpiece to slang all the supposed fakes, and took a leading part in legal attacks against other art dealers, showed any sign of humanity now, in bothering to notify the family about the death of a loved one.
The family was further upset to learn that Gabe Vadas and Donald Robinson, without consulting Norval’s children, or brothers and sisters, and in flagrant violation of Aboriginal burial custom, were already busy making preparations to cremate Norval.
At the last minute, through an Aboriginal agency Norval’s family was able to intercede and stop funeral arrangements they strongly took exception to and were a complete violation of Aboriginal custom Norval had a right to expect.
It’s just another example of the cold, ruthless, unfeeling, and mercenary “greedy white man” behaviour displayed by the art cartel during the last years of Norval’s life.
It is astonishing that these two white guys in suits – Aboriginal art poseurs – apparently had not a clue whatsoever about Norval’s cultural background, and how they were violating it. Clearly, after 17 years of representing him, they had never bothered going more than skin deep into what made Norval tick as a person and as an Indian. Or they just didn’t care.
They just appropriated and mumbled as much Indian “mumbo-jumbo” as it took to convince unsophisticated and gullible Yorkville customers to buy Norval’s art.
Where was the human core to these white men? Let alone their understanding and sensitivity for the Aboriginal culture of the man who had made them millions of dollars.
But then, Robinson had not attended Norval’s last and biggest show at the National Gallery of Canada in 2006. Now that Norval was dead he probably saw even less need to tell the family, or offer condolences, however distraught they would no doubt be. So he just busied himself to help his business partner, Gabe Vadas, to get rid of the body with as little ceremony and as fast as possible.
Norval’s Diary Denounces Donald Robinson as the “Shark” – Did Norval foresee this? We have some proof from the artist himself. In one of his devastating “Confessional Diary” paintings, Norval depicts Donald Robinson unflatteringly as “THE SHARK IN STILL WATERS 1990.” The painting has been certified by one of Canada’s top forensic experts as authentically signed, with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau and by no one else.
Just as Norval had within only months of meeting him slanged Bryant Ross as a “Snake,” so within only months of meeting Robinson, slanged him as a “Shark.”
It is a telling insight into the degree of Norval’s physical, mental, and artistic decline in 1988 and 1990, when he wrote these disparaging comments, that he felt that he had no choice left but to make truck with people he obviously did not like or respect.
Ritchie Sinclair Calls Robinson a Shark – In fact Norval was not the only one who called Donald Robinson “a shark.” So did Ritchie Sinclair in a private email he sent on Apr. 2, 2008 to “Spirit Walker” telling him he had a choice of Toronto galleries to show his art in, but chose to rejected them, in favour of the Scollard Street Gallery. Sinclair was wooing Spirit Walker, asking him to buy one of his own paintings “it’s a stunning painting” for a reduced bargain price of $10,000, down from $12,000.
“There is one painting in particular that I would like you to consider purchasing if possible… 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 at $10,000 it would go a long way to making everything unfold like “Destiny…”
“I will be selling all new artwork at the 45% market value rate to establish valuations, prior to a New York show. Greg Hill has suggested that as (National Gallery) curator he may look into buying one to assist me in setting my artwork’s market valuations. I hope that happens… but this one want to fly (out West!)” – he meant to Matulic.
“I have been approached by Kinsmen-Robinson (sic) and the Liss Gallery here in Yorkville. As you know, its (sic) best for people like us to keep a safe distance from sharks so I’m going to this (Scollard) gallery instead of those mixed up in the “Morrisseau” wars.” (Ritchie Sinclair to Spirit Walker Apr. 2, 2008)
(Note: It’s pretty clear why Sinclair, a totally white dude, chose to become such a passionate and desperate Indian impersonator, calls himself by a variety of Indian names “Daydreamer,” “Fakescreamer,” “HOAXschemer,” whatever… puts Indian “mumbo jumbo” on his websites, sports Aboriginal dreadlocks, and wear his Davy Crockett get-up in downtown Toronto.
Sinclair is just huffing, and puffing, and bluffing about everything, including being “approached as an artist,” by anyone, including Norval Morrisseau…
Scollard Street Gallery Disaster – In fact Sinclair sold not a single piece of art during the show. When the gallery closed completely a few weeks later the owner published with gratitude the names of artists he had been proud to represent. He pointedly ignored mentioning Ritchie “Daydreamer” Sinclair whose disastrous show, and premature closing, probably gave him nightmares, as it sealed the fate of his gallery.
Ritchie “Daydreamer” Sinclair – Kinsman Robinson Galleries has never listed him as an artist on its master roll of artists in the sixteen years they’ve been aware of him; the Liss Gallery flatly refused to show his work. So did Artworld of Sherway which was also approached by Sinclair. All did so, we suspect because collectors do not want to buy or collect Aboriginal art painted by a white man who thinks he can become an Indian just by wearing a Davy Crockett jacket, giving himself an Indian type name, wearing disheveled dreadlocks like some bushman, and muttering Indian mumbo-jumbo on his blogs.
Anymore than collectors want Inuit carvings made in Taiwan. The Scollard showed Sinclair’s work because it was desperate. Neighbouring gallery owners say, Sinclair’s show was cut short with the gallery declaring bankruptcy only a couple of months later. And all the stuff about Greg Hill, the National Gallery, and New York… Puleeze, Daydreamer…)
The person Sinclair is so assiduously courting is Ugo Matulic (Spiritwalker), whose blog he was gushing over and praising all the wonderful “masterpieces of Morrisseau’s work” that Matulic posted. In November, 2013, Matulic celebrates five successful years in establishing what is, by far, the biggest Norval Morrisseau repository of documents, screen grabs, emails, letters, prints, and paintings collected in one place. And all showcased and annotated in infinite, mind-numbing detail in his blog.
After five years of detailed and single-minded research, Matulic still praises exactly the same paintings Sinclair gushed over in early 2008: Morrisseau’s BDPs from the 70s and 80s.
Sinclair concluded his long letter to Matulic with
Ritchie “the Meat Grinder” Sinclair – After Matulic (privately) declined the opportunity to consider buying “Aboriginal” art from a white man, and Sinclair’s Scollard gallery show tanked, for the same reason, later that fall Sinclair’s emails to Matulic became extremely hostile, and then threatened him with ending up in a “meat grinder.”
Of course the threat was anonymous, but a Site Meter put on the “anonymous” message traced the offensive email straight to the C drive on Stardreamer’s computer. “Stardreamer,” “Anonymous,” and “Black Magic” are personalities Sinclair uses ad nauseam.
Matulic called police.
Sinclair had done a total and inexplicable, sudden about face, and started denouncing the very paintings he had praised wholeheartedly before, on various websites. So much for someone who claims to be somewhat knowledgeable about Morrisseau’s art. Apparently not…
Weeks later, in October 2008 Sinclair maliciously posted 1,000 Morrisseau pictures he had never seen, as fakes on his website, and maliciously published the names of their owners as well, alongside libelous words, telling Joe McLeod he was going to “bring down the whole Morrisseau market.”
Many of the paintings he now defamed as “inferior counterfeits” were the exact same ones he had written about, only months before, as being “masterpieces” of Morrisseau’s art.
Matulic’s faith and research have been rewarded with over 70 individual findings by three of Canada’s top handwriting analysis experts confirming, with DNA certainty, that each and every painting he has submitted for testing, was signed by Morrisseau, and was not a fake as Ritchie Sinclair and his Conspiracy Theorist friends allege. Without even a single dissenting finding…
A truly astonishing example of how science and art can come together to rescue and celebrate the artistic heritage of Norval Morrisseau and wrest it from the craven clutches of those “greedy white men” – including the members of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society – all maliciously intent on cultural genocide and to “burn” Norval’s art just because it belongs to others.
In 2013, Sinclair is now a close business associate of the very man he, like Norval, both sized up the same way, and called a “shark.” Changing strategies in fine art marketing makes strange bedfellows indeed…
With a dead body on his hands, Vadas (and Robinson) apparently had only one interest, “Let’s bury that body quick, and cremate it so nobody can get the idea to do an autopsy to discover how truly physically and mentally degenerated Norval really was,” you know, during the last years when the duo kept churning out scores of his new paintings for sale.
Within days Vadas would issue the announcement that Norval died broke, without a single possession, painting, or cent, to leave to his Aboriginal children and family.
The Power of the Power of Attorney – If you can believe, at the very moment Norval’s body lay on a cold slab in the morgue in Toronto, in a nearby neighbourhood, we remind you that Gabe Vadas had 384 of Norval’s paintings (all personally catalogued by Donald Robinson himself as KR1-KR384, and stored as a favour to Gabe) and worth from twenty to forty million dollars, secreted for himself, in the basement of Robinson’s own Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Neither Norval’s Aboriginal family nor anyone else would know they existed for years to come, until I heard Robinson inadvertently blurt out the secret while giving court testimony on another matter in 2011 and I published the astonishing and compromising news of it on this blog for the first time.
It is powerful proof that Vadas had certainly done an effective job at wielding Norval’s Power of Attorney for the past seventeen years.
I consider the Vadas/Robinson caper, involving 384 paintings with a potential value of some 40 million dollars, the biggest art “heist” in Canadian history, and one of the biggest in the world. It would have remained totally unknown had we not exposed it in the pages of this blog.
SLEUTHING OUT THE TRUTH – In fact the Plaintiff’s side (Lawyer Jonathan Sommer, Margaret Hatfield, Donald Robinson and Ritchie Sinclair made a deliberate attempt to hide from the public the story of the “greatest art heist in Canadian history,” which Donald Robinson had inadvertently blurted out.
When they ordered the transcripts from the trial they carefully and deliberately did not order the court clerk to transcribe the section where Donald Robinson blurted out the damning admission, thereby ensuring that it would forever be buried only on the tape and not be logged as court transcripts. Court transcripts live forever; tape is destroyed after a time.
I, who had heard Donald Robinson in court admitting the heist, was dismayed to discover when I got my supposedly complete set of transcripts, to find this section oddly missing. I complained to the court clerk who was firm that ALL the court transcripts were published. I insisted she look again, and gave here exact times of day the testimony was given. She confessed to being utterly curious about my degree of certainty about my allegations, and said she was now personally intrigued and would sleuth out the facts herself.
Days later she called triumphantly, that she had found the “missing” tapes. We ordered them transcribed, and published the “confession of Donald Robinson” to being a participant in the “greatest art heist in Canadian history.”
2009 – Norval Speaks from the Grave with his “Confessional Diary” Paintings – In 2009 a private stash of paintings were discovered with a collector in Ontario. In the huge collection were over 30 fabulous paintings that, as a historian, I consider the most important works Norval ever painted for one simple reason:
They testify from the grave exactly what Norval thought of the ethics of the “greedy white men” who had scrambled around his wheelchair for profit during the last decade or more of his life. Multiples exist of Donald Robinson, Gabe Vadas, Bryant Ross, as well as numerous awfully compromising personal Morrisseau family ones.
And it is not pretty; Norval is uniformly and ruthlessly dismissive of all these white men and their ethics or trustworthiness. In bold black writing on the back of each work he mercilessly characterizes the self-styled Principal Morrisseau Dealer as “The Shark in Still Waters,” his longtime business manager, Bryant Ross as a “Bryant the Snake,” and one-time companion Ritchie Sinclair, as “The Theif in the Night.”
In fact Norval Morrisseau expends more of his scathing vitriol on Ritchie Sinclair than on anyone else, with at least seven canvases all devastatingly cataloguing “Ritchie’s” ethical and moral transgressions “for the Ages?” That’s three times more scathing characterizations on canvas than Norval did on anyone else.
Norval does not spare himself either, berating himself for being sexually abusive. It’s all on the back of canvases, fronted by wonderful portraits on the obverse, which hide the awful reality behind.
Forensically Certified with DNA Certainty – And yes, since you asked, all the “Confessional Diary” paintings we refer to, have already been certified, by one of Canada’s top handwriting analysis expert, as genuine, and signed, with DNA certainty, on the back in black drybrush paint in Norval’s hand, and no one else’s.
Update: More of these devastating portraits of Norval’s scathing characterizations of the “greedy white men” who manipulated him, for their own ends, when he was a helpless invalid in his wheelchair, will be published in future.
2011 – An RCMP Investigation, Begun in 2008, Ends With No Fakes or Forgers Found – One thing, all by itself, that makes the Morrisseau Fakes Hoax so preposterous, is a multi-million dollar RCMP investigation which concluded in 2011, without discovering a single Morrisseau forgery or a single Morrisseau forger.
While Donald Robinson fulminated that some 4,000 fakes exist, which even an amateur could detect, the RCMP investigators couldn’t find a single one.
McClintock Memories – Remember the one known rare case of a Canadian forger being caught, was Richard McClintock who was nabbed by a dealer after trying to sell only two (2) forgeries, not of cheap Morrisseaus, mind you, but of high value, high demand Quebec artists. A dealer had no trouble identifying and catching the forger and his fakes; likewise cops had no problem charging him with forgery and selling forgeries; likewise a judge had no trouble sentencing him for forgery and selling forgeries.
With 4,000 alleged Morrisseau fakes out there, finding a forger and forgery and identifying them to the police and processing them through the courts the same way should have been an easy done deal.
So it is amazing that while lawyer Aaron Milrad wails there is a “syndicate” of diabolical forgers out there, and Donald Robinson claims a “group” is at it, the RCMP, which looked where they told them to look, couldn’t find a single person or fake painting.
They interviewed and investigated countless people across Canada over a three year period, including the people identified by Robinson as crooks and creeps: Randy Potter, Jim White, and Ugo Matulic, and many others, and still the RCMP laid not a single charge of any kind against anyone. Or uncovered a single Morrisseau fake or a Morrisseau forger.
And this was after also talking to Donald Robinson, and Ritchie Sinclair to see what kind of proof they had for their malicious allegations. They obviously gave the RCMP lots to work with; after all they told the cops there are some 4,000 lousy forgeries out there. It should therefore have been easy for the cops to find only one just to prove their case…
The Cops; the Courts; the Scientists are Unanimous
With stunning finality, the RCMP came to exactly the same conclusion, no fakes, and no forgers, just as:
– has every judge who has ever been shown the allegations in court, and ended up dismissing them ALL as unsubstantiated, bogus, or blatantly false,
– have all of Canada’s top three forensic scientists and handwriting analysis experts, who have looked at hundreds of Norval’s signatures and ruled that all the 70 plus paintings, claimed to be fakes, that they have been asked to assess, have without a single dissenting finding, been certified, with DNA certainty, as being signed by Morrisseau, and that they could not have been signed by anyone else, making all the paintings genuine.
Some Conspiracy theorists allege that the RCMP actually found evidence of fraud. It absolutely would not surprise me in the slightest.
Norval & the Cash Economy – Much of the art market is closely related to the antique market, with items sold in the same way, and often by the same people who deal in both back and forth.
I have been an avid antiquer since the early 1990s and have attended many hundreds of antique and fine art auctions and antique shows. Probably over 1,000.
Much of the antique selling business is based on the “cash” economy to avoid paying taxes. Dealers routinely take cash, and don’t give receipts. Some give such minimal receipts it’s laughable. Names, addresses etc., are frequently missing.
It’s all done so that Revenue Canada investigators cannot find their illegal business transactions done to avoid paying taxes.
In the antiques business it’s the world’s worst kept secret.
Norval sold most of his paintings this way in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, giving them away for sex, a bottle, a few bucks, a taxi ride, a room for a night, etc. Hundreds, probably thousands of them. Nobody wanted a paper trail, neither Norval nor the buyer.
I am absolutely certain the RCMP would have found evidence that some people were “defrauding” Revenue Canada with some painting transactions. It would have been strange if they hadn’t. But that is not what the “forgery squad” was sent to investigate. They were looking for forgeries and forgers, not tax evaders…
And they found none. No forgers, no forgeries, no cases of art fraud. Not even one…
Why? Really? Well, if you must know, because there have never been any, neither forgers or forgeries as claimed by Donald Robinson, Paul Robinson, John MacGregor Newman, Aaron Milrad, Gabe Vadas, Ritchie Sinclair, and the hopelessly deluded members of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, who were “trained” as trick ponies by the originators of the invented scandal.
It was all a colossal Hoax contrived as a business tactic to make a few “greedy white men” rich regardless of the damage it did to Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, and countless decent Canadians who bought his art.
2013 – Judge Martial Findings on the Mental, Physical, & Artistic State of Norval Morrisseau – In March 2013, Judge Paul J Martial totally refutes the claims of the chief witnesses (Donald Robinson and Ritchie Sinclair) for the Plaintiff in Hatfield v Child, repeatedly “rejects” their claims to have expertise, and strongly “prefers” the witnesses for the Defendant.
He finds, contrary to what Robinson says, Sinclair says, Vadas says, lawyer Milrad says, that the signature on the back of “Wheel of Life 1979,” was not a forgery but agrees with Dr. Atul K Singla, one of Canada’s top forensic scientists, that it is a genuine – not a faked – signature of Morrisseau.
He further declares the painting itself a genuine Morrisseau.
It deals a deadly double knock-out blow to Donald Robinson’s claim, which he has trumpeted since 2001, that there are “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers,” of paintings exactly like “Wheel of Life 1979” out there. In effect Judge Martial rules that Robinson has failed to produce any believable proof for any of it. (Robinson’s sterling record for failures in repeated court appearances remains unbroken.)
Judge Martial’s findings parallel an astonishing record for Canada’s top forensic scientists who are batting 1,000 to 0, in over 70 examinations, against the frantic, but false fulminations of Donald Robinson, and his claim to have discovered not one but some 4,000 forgeries. And yet in 12 years of trying has utterly failed to convince any judge or forensic scientist that he has even found ONE. Even when he was given the choice of which one to champion in court after court. And over 70 times the scientists have called his claims utterly baseless without even a smidgen of proof of a forgery on all these canvasses they have examined.
Judge Martial, in his repeated “rejections” of both the expertise and the claims of the only two witnesses produced by the Plaintiff, restored to legitimacy some 4,000 similar BDPs, signed, titled, and dated in black drybrush paint with Norval’s hand – that Robinson had trashed as lousy fakes like “Wheel of Life 1979” – and put them back to their rightful place as part of Norval’s and Canada’s treasured art heritage.
Judge Martial found further, that Morrisseau – in absentia, through death – was not a reliable witness, for health reasons at least, as shown by his notoriously incompetent and incorrect Affidavits of Forgery on which Norval’s name “appeared.”
This feature length research article fleshes out and provides the documentation for the physical, mental, and artistic decline of Norval Morrisseau, which Judge Martial overheard in five days of listening to testimony from both sides. It provides ample proof that Judge Martial was dead on in threading the needle between the contesting sides.
In fact in making his finding, Judge Martial dismissed as not believable the fact that Norval knew what he was doing when he signed the Affidavit of Forgery on which “Wheel of Life 1979” appeared. Which our feature article establishes as an incontrovertible certainty.
Judge Martial’s findings are just another, in a long unbroken list of judicial procedures that have, without a single exception, found against any and all credibility of the “greedy white men” clustered around Norval’s wheelchair, who with their wild claims of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” launched the biggest Hoax in Canadian history to try to wrest a marketing advantage over their business competitors in the selling of Morrisseau art.
The “Preposterous” Mr. Robinson: from 2001 to 2013
In summary, this feature research article shows the precipitous, step by step, and non-stop decline of the man Donald Robinson claimed to journalist Murray Whyte of the National Post in 2001, supposedly had total recall, and pontificated strongly, that Norval could remember every one of the 10,000 paintings he had ever painted in his 50 year career.
And when Whyte challenged Robinson about the obvious – the impossible likelihood of such a claim for any human, let alone a physically and mentally deteriorated quadriplegic in a wheelchair – Robinson sputtered that it was “Preposterous” for the journalist to suggest Norval was incapable of such papal infallibility.
This, we remind you, is during exactly the same time-frame when Wolf Morrisseau testified in court that his brother, Norval had only brief minutes of lucidity, and told him he just couldn’t remember what he had painted…
And when numerous other credible observers said Norval was incapable of speaking intelligibly, let alone communicating.
Perhaps it is time, again, to let Jack Pollock try to help us figure out what is going on here.
And Toronto lawyer and international art expert, on fakes, frauds, and forgeries, Bonnie Czegledi:
The “Dumb” Indian – With Norval safely locked up in terminal care, in the same year (2001) that Robinson claimed Norval’s recall was akin to that of papal infallibility, one of the artist’s white handlers got the brilliant idea of “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” which Norval was no longer in any condition to disprove – or approve, for that matter…
Spawning the biggest Hoax in Canadian fine art history, all based, entirely, only on manipulating, and speaking “on behalf of,” a totally helpless wheelchair invalid, in the throes of Dementia, in the final declining years of his life.
A comatose wheelchair quadriplegic who was, in his heyday, a fabulously creative artist, and a true artistic genius by any international standard.
Hopefully this article will go some way to right the balance, so that honesty, decency, and truth are, once again, re-established as the guiding principles of the Canadian fine art market.
To protect consumers, collectors, and the artistic legacy of Norval Morrisseau from phony, trumped up allegations of so-called forgeries, for which no proof has ever been produced anywhere, by anyone, not by a judge in a courtroom, an investigator in a police station, or a forensic document examiner or handwriting analysis expert in a forensic science lab.
In fact ALL the allegations of forgeries have come only from a handful of “greedy white men” intent on spreading falsehoods to create doubt in the art market, either out of malicious intent, or to promote huge financial gains for themselves, at the expense of their business competitors.
That should kill the biggest and most diabolical HOAX in Canadian history.
And finally let Norval sleep in peace…
And stop stressing out little old ladies and gullible celebrity neophyte art collectors by persuading them to squander their pensions trying to please and enrich crafty lawyers and conniving Conspiracy Theorists.
Copyright © 2013 by John Goldi: All rights reserved. All text and images are protected under Canadian and international copyright law, and may not be copied, reproduced, transferred, or transmitted, in any way at all, in whole or in part, without the prior written approval of John Goldi.