LIFESTYLE

Florida art museum sues former director over forged Basquiat paintings scheme

Aug 16, 2023, 2:37 PM

FILE - The entrance to an exhibit by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is seen at the Orlando Museum of A...

FILE - The entrance to an exhibit by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is seen at the Orlando Museum of Art, June 1, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. On Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, the central Florida art museum which was raided last year by the FBI over an exhibit of what turned out to be forged Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings filed suit against its former executive director and others, claiming they were part of a plan to profit from the sale of the fake artwork. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A central Florida art museum which was raided last year by the FBI over an exhibit of what turned out to be forged Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings has sued its former executive director and others, claiming they were part of a scheme to profit from the eventual sale of the fake artwork.

The Orlando Museum of Art filed the lawsuit Monday in state court against former CEO Aaron De Groft and others whom the museum says were involved in the scheme, seeking undisclosed damages for fraud, breach of contract and conspiracy.

The 99-year-old museum, also referred to as OMA, was left with a tattered reputation that resulted in its being put on probation by the American Alliance of Museums, the lawsuit said.

“OMA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars — and unwittingly staked its reputation — on exhibiting the now admittedly fake paintings,” the lawsuit said. “Consequently, cleaning up the aftermath created by the defendants has cost OMA even more.”

Basquiat, who lived and worked in New York City, found success in the 1980s as part of the Neo-expressionism movement. The Orlando Museum of Art was the first institution to display the more than two dozen artworks said to have been found in an old storage locker decades after Basquiat’s 1988 death from a drug overdose at age 27.

Questions about the artworks’ authenticity arose almost immediately after their reported discovery in 2012. The artwork was purportedly made in 1982, but experts have pointed out that the cardboard used in at least one of the pieces included FedEx typeface that wasn’t used until 1994, about six years after Basquiat died, according to the federal warrant from the museum raid.

Also, television writer Thad Mumford, the owner of the storage locker where the art was eventually found, told investigators that he had never owned any Basquiat art and that the pieces were not in the unit the last time he had visited. Mumford died in 2018.

In April, former Los Angeles auctioneer Michael Barzman agreed to plead guilty to federal charges that he had created the fake artwork and falsely attributed the paintings to Basquiat.

De Groft had repeatedly insisted that the art was legitimate at the time of the exhibit last year. The court docket in Orlando didn’t list an attorney for De Groft.

Lifestyle

This photo provided by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows the Bissell Steam Shot Handhel...

Associated Press

Over 3 million steam cleaners are under recall because they can spew hot water and cause burns

NEW YORK (AP) — Some 3.3 million steam cleaners are being recalled across North America due to a burn hazard that has resulted in consumers reporting more than 150 injuries. Select models of Bissell-branded “Steam Shot Handheld Steam Cleaners” can spew hot water or steam while the products are in use or being heated up, […]

15 hours ago

FILE - In this image provided by KFOR-TV, a heavily damaged vehicle is seen off a road in Tishoming...

Associated Press

After crash that killed 6 teens, NTSB chief says people underestimate marijuana’s impact on drivers

DETROIT (AP) — A horrific crash that killed six high school girls in Oklahoma two years ago has the head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board urging parents to warn teenagers about the risk of driving after using marijuana. Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy made the appeal to parents Thursday as her agency released the final […]

17 hours ago

Residents walk through the Petare neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 16, 2024. (AP P...

Associated Press

The uncertainty that plagues life in crisis-ridden Venezuela is also wreaking havoc on relationships

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Victoria Estevez finally met someone who saw past her shyness. They spent two months learning about their likes and dislikes, texting about their families and friends, and walking around their hometowns on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast. On a trip to the capital in December, they held each other for the first time. […]

1 day ago

Gracie Wiener poses for a photo with some of her tote bags in Washington Square Park in New York, W...

Associated Press

Historic utility AND high fashion. 80-year-old LL Bean staple finds a new audience as a trendy bag

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) — L.L. Bean created it 80 years ago to haul heavy blocks of ice. Now it’s a must-have summer fashion accessory. The simple, sturdy canvas bag called the Boat and Tote is having an extended moment 80 years after its introduction, thanks to a social media trend in which they’re monogrammed with […]

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Servic...

Associated Press

Trump’s escape from disaster by mere inches reveals a tiny margin with seismic impact

NEW YORK (AP) — Jarring, chaotic and sudden, the bullet whizzed toward the stage where former President Donald Trump stood behind a podium speaking. In its wake: the potential for a horrifying and tragic chapter in American history. But the Republican presidential candidate had a narrow escape — mere inches, possibly less — in Saturday’s […]

3 days ago

FILE - An Amazon Prime cardboard shipping box label is seen on March 17, 2023, in East Derry, N.H. ...

Associated Press

Amazon Prime Day is a big event for scammers, experts warn

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon Prime Day is here, and experts are reminding consumers to be wary of scams. Deceptions such as phony emails from people impersonating online retailers like Amazon are nothing new. But phishing attempts increase amid the heavy spending seen during significant sales events, whether it’s Black Friday or Prime Day, according […]

3 days ago

Florida art museum sues former director over forged Basquiat paintings scheme