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stephen j goldberg los angeles lawyer mark rothko no 36 black stripe 1958

Keeping it Real

stephen j goldberg los angeles lawyer mark rothko no 36 black stripe 1958 art forgery

Mark Rothko, No. 36 (Black Stripe), 1958, from the collection of the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden.

Last year I was invited to view a controversial painting that the owner claimed to be a genuine Rothko he bought at a small LA auction many years ago. The painting was not officially included in the Rothko catalogue raisonné despite the fact that the owner discovered photos in the Rothko archive which seemed to prove its authenticity as an early work; his attempts to persuade the catalog’s author, David Anfam, were in vain. Rothko is a favorite artist and I’ve seen many of his works over the years at art museums and Rothko retrospectives, but it was difficult for me be sure that this painting was authentic. To my eyes it looked like a Rothko, but without inclusion in the Rothko catalog, it was not authenticated. Perhaps in the past it would have been possible to find an appraiser who would go out on limb, but today’s art world makes it more difficult to take a chance.

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