A LONG-running anti-trust complaint against the Andy Warhol Foundation – one that caused them to close the authentication service – concerned a work denied twice by their board.
Joe Simon-Whelan, a US film producer living in London, accused
the foundation of a "20-year scheme ... to restrain and monopolise
trade in the market for Warhol works".
He bought his 2ft x 20in (60 x 50cm) Warhol self-portrait, from
London dealer Michael Hue-Williams for $195,000 in 1989, two years
after it sold at Christie's New York for $25,000.
Stamped with Warhol's signature, it had been "acquired directly
from the artist" and had previously been authenticated by the
foundation's Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board as a Warhol
silkscreen of 1964.
In 2001 its value had escalated to £2m-3m and Simon-Whelan
decided to sell. To aid its commercial prospects he submitted the
piece to the board again to ensure inclusion in Warhol's catalogue
However, he was then told on submission and resubmission that it
was a fake. The presence of two Denied stamps - that Simon-Whelan
says have ended any hope of the picture ever being accepted as
genuine in future - has led him to call it Double Denied.
It was, he says, in the interests of the Foundation, who have
substantial Warhol holdings, to limit the number of available
"authentic" works and he questioned a contract he had signed at the
time of submission that gave the board a "perpetual veto right over
its authenticity" without explaining their decisions.
A 2009 court ruling gave Simon-Whelan's legal team access to the
foundation to gain witness depositions and other evidence. However,
he was forced to drop the case in October 2010 when he ran out of
The Warhol institutions denied any scheme, saying the board
rejected only 15 to 18 per cent of applications each year.
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