Fraud and Fine Arts – The Sandspur

Photo taken by Alexandre Knobloch

The Rollins Museum of Art has received a surge in potential donors following the discovery of alleged forgeries at the Orlando Museum of Art.

In June 2022, the Orlando Museum of Art’s “Heroes and Monsters” exhibition – a collection of 25 paintings on cardboard attributed to American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat – was seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) due to allegations casting doubt on the authenticity of the work, according to the New York Times. Since last week, several members of the museum‘s board of trustees have been removed from their posts and acting director Luder Whitlock has resigned.

In light of the dismantling of the exhibit within three miles, the Rollins Museum of Art has met with a number of potential donors seeking to sever associations with the fraudulent activity.

“We have received the generous support of the Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation, which has had a huge impact on our collection with the long-term loan of 22 paintings that had been at the OMA for several decades, six of which were donated to our permanent collection and will significantly strengthen our collection of American art,” said Robyn Bertram, director of development at RMA.

Paintings such as The (William) Denning Family by William Williams, and Portrait of David Lapsley by James Peale are included in the long-term loan.

Photo taken by Alexandre Knobloch

“Visitors will have the opportunity to view some of these works this fall What’s New: Recent Acquisitions exhibition,” Bertram said. “We continue to have conversations with many in the community about gifts to support our campaign for a new Rollins Museum of Art facility across from the Alfond Inn, in addition to the gifts of art.

The Rollins Museum of Art, formerly known as the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, has been renamed to align with its future vision and location. The new state-of-the-art facility currently under construction will be located adjacent to the Alfond Inn, one block from Park Avenue.

According to Dr. Ena Heller, director of Bruce A. Beal at the Rollins Museum of Art, fraud is not very common or expected in the art world, especially among legitimate and vetted collectors.

“Unfortunately, there are bad actors everywhere – as we’ve experienced in our community,” Heller said.

The New York Times claimed that recently fired OMA director and general manager Aaron De Groft persisted in the narrative that Basquiat’s paintings were genuine. De Groft claimed they were salvaged from a storage unit in Los Angeles ten years prior, although one of the paintings attributed to Basquiat was painted on cardboard with a shipping label that was never used. only six years after his death.

The Central Florida community will not have the opportunity to participate in the next three OMA exhibits, which have been canceled following the raids and additional questions about the legitimacy of upcoming exhibits, but the Rollins Museum of Art is moving forward with its fall 2022 exhibitions—with free admission.

Programming will open on September 17 and end on December 31. The following exhibitions are presented: Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish and Indian art, 1960s – 1970s; Barbara Sorensen: Blows; One act of kindness: a world of difference; and What’s new? Recent acquisitions from the Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation.
More information on upcoming events including an exhibition tour in Spanish with curator Dr Gisela Carbonell, a tour by Dr Ena Heller, a talk with artist Barbara Sorensen, a tour with Romano & Mariolina Salvatori Fellow Lauren McLevey and a lecture by Lynn Gumpert, director of the Gray Art Gallery at New York University, can all be found on the RMA website.


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