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Art Anecdotes : When Doig was Accused of Painting a Masterpiece

Through ART ANECDOTES, Art From Us brings you funny, heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking stories that shape Artists and their work. Today we look at the story of When Doig was Accused of Painting a Masterpiece.

Art From Us and Divvya Nirula bring to you a curated collection of Art related events, from suspected murder, to love affairs, to grand theft and curious cases of creation through ART ANECDOTES. Join us on this fun-filled ride of exploring and reliving these art-tales.

The first lesson you learn in art school is that as a buyer, to avoid being duped into buying a Picasso that isn’t really a “Picasso”, you must be careful. Title, value and provenance are at the top of the authentication checklist. All you need to do is be smart and be prudent.

What art school doesn’t teach you, however, is what you as an artist are supposed to do when someone accuses you of painting something that you don’t quite recollect painting. A predicament that the Scottish artist Peter Doig found himself in.

The Peter Doig Mystery

In 2013, in a case unheard of by any art law expert, Peter Doig was sued by Mr. Robert Fletcher, owner of a painting that he claimed was made by the celebrated artist. 

The painting in question was that of an acrylic on canvas landscape signed ‘Pete Doige 1976’. According to Fletcher, he bought the work for $100 in the 70s, from a young man named Pete Doige. Doige was an art student from Lakehead University, who was incarcerated at the Thunder Bay Correctional Center. Fletcher, was an officer at the facility. His motivation for the purchase was that he might help the young inmate financially and keep him from selling drugs again.

Years later, a guest saw the painting hanging on Fletcher’s wall and excitedly told his host about its apparent artist, Peter Doig, and the market value of his paintings. Fletcher decided sell the painting for millions. Doig denied ever having created it. Subsequently, Fletcher and his art dealer Peter Bartlow filed a case against the artist.

The Legal Outcome : “Nice Painting. Not By Me”

Doig always denied having created the painting. On first seeing it he stated,”Nice Painting. Not By Me.”

During the course of the court proceedings, Doig’s lawyers were able to identify the real artist of the painting. The artist, a man called Pete Doige had died in 2012. His sister however testified that the work had been created by her late brother. So, in 2016, after a lengthy court battle, it was found that the work was not a Doig original.

The case was one of a kind in that it called for a living artist to defend his authorship.

To read more stories visit Art Anecdotes.

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