Whose Painting is it?

Scottish artist, Peter Doig, was recently accused of tortious interference for claiming that a work attributed to him was not in fact painted by him. Doig’s denial of ever having painted the work is the subject of a suit brought against him by Plaintiffs Robert Fletcher and Bartlow Gallery Ltd. Fletcher, the present owner of the work, claimed that Doig sold him the painting for $100 and that he watched Doig paint the piece when he was in jail. Fletcher filed the suit in 2013 after he attempted to auction off the painting as a work of Doig’s. For Fletcher, this is a serious matter—although Doig’s work usually sells for $10 million a piece, the painting in Fletcher’s hands is worthless without any authentication that it was painted by Doig.

Fletcher claims that Doig painted the work when he was an inmate in jail in 1976. Meanwhile, Doig claims that he has never been incarcerated and that he was a teenager, living at home with his parents, in 1976. In other words, he completely refuted having painted the work, yet U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman denied Doig’s summary judgment motion, essentially finding that the question of who painted the work would be left for the court to decide. Judge Feinerman, found that another man, Pete Doige, was most likely the artist of the painting held by Fletcher. Records indicated that Pete Doige, unlike Doig, was an artist who was imprisoned at the facility center in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where Fletcher claims he bought the painting. Furthermore, there was no evidencethat Doig had ever been near the Thunder Bay correctional facility at all. Fletcher’s claim that he was owed $7.9 million from Doig was consequently denied. Fletcher’s attorney has not indicated whether Fletcher plans to appeal the verdict.

Amah-Rose Abrams, Peter Doig, Accused of Disavowing a Painting, Takes Stand at Trial, ARTNET NEWS (Sept. 26, 2016), https://news.artnet.com/art-world/peter-doig-testifies-disputed-artwork-lawsuit-598298. Jessica Corso, Famous Artist Won’t Be Forced to Acknowledge Painting, LAW360 (Sept. 28, 2016), http://www.law360.com/articles/831842/famous-artist-won-t-be-forced-to-acknowledge-painting.

Sheppard Mullin, I Swear It’s Not Mine – Artist Sued for Denying He Created Art Piece, ART LAW BLOG (Sept. 26, 2016), http://www.artlawgallery.com/2016/08/articles/artists/i-swear-its-not-mine-artist-sued-for-denying-he-created-art-piece/.