Court dismisses claim that Norval Morrisseau painting is fake


Court dismisses claim that Norval Morrisseau painting is fake

Court heard testimony about a Thunder Bay-area fraud ring
Spirit Energy of Mother Earth – Norval Morrisseau

TORONTO —  In a case that has been watched closely by the art world, a Superior Court justice has ruled that, “from the law’s point of view,” a painting sold by an Ontario art gallery to Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies is “a real Norval Morrisseau painting.”

The judge also found that the evidence he heard did not “in any conclusive way” connect Spirit Energy of Mother Earth to an alleged fraud ring in the Thunder Bay area that produced Morrisseau fakes.

“Counsel for Hearn went to considerable effort in gathering evidence and calling witnesses to establish that a group of fraudsters worked for a number of years in northwest Ontario, and that as a consequence of their prolific activities a substantial number of Morrisseau forgeries exist,” Justice E.M. Morgan noted in his Reasons for Judgment, issued last month.

He noted, however, that “no witness identified this particular painting as having been produced by a member of the northern Ontario-based criminal enterprise.”

Hearn, keyboardist with the Barenaked Ladies band, sued Toronto’s Maslak-McLeod Gallery, alleging the work he bought in 2005 was counterfeit.

During the civil trial that concluded in February, the court heard from an art expert who has studied Morrisseau’s work extensively. She concluded the piece was an imitation as it contained numerous elements that were different from Morrisseau’s standard approaches.

However, an expert in handwriting analysis testified that, with “reasonable certainty,” he believed Morrisseau’s signature on the painting was authentic.

In his written Reasons for Judgment, issued on May 24, Justice Morgan noted how some of the testimony illustrated “the most fundamental problem in attempting to authenticate a purported Norval Morrisseau painting: there is more than one Morrisseau, or more than one Morrisseau style, that can emerge or submerge at any time.”

The judge said Spirit Energy of Mother Earth—is one more painting “that is possibly an authentic Norval Morrisseau and possibly not. As a matter of law, what is important is that a tie goes to the Defendants. Where a court is left in doubt because the relevant burden of proof has not been satisfied, the ‘fact’ sought to be proved is in law not true.”

Morrissesau, born in 1932 on the Sand Point Reserve near Beardmore, is credited with originating the Woodland School of Indigenous art.

He died in 2007.

L.A. Artist Suing Old Navy for Ripping Off Her Work


L.A. Artist Suing Old Navy for Ripping Off Her Work


Los Angeles–based illustrator and artist Lili Chin has publicly accused Old Navy of ripping off some of her designs for a set of pajamas the retailer debuted last fall.

Chin told Complex she first became aware of Old Navy’s potential copycat design back in November. “A customer contacted me when she saw these pajamas on the Old Navy site and said they looked like the designs from my Dogs of the World series,” she said. “I was upset. Not only because it was stolen but because I have always wanted to make pajamas with my dog designs on them.”

Lili Chin@lilita_yaya

Old Navy is denying copyright infringement. I have written more here:  Please RT.

At first, Chin reached out to the company to try and have the matter settled amicably, but after Old Navy denied the copyright infringement, she decided to file a lawsuit. “I work as a professional artist and this is how I earn a living selling prints, and licensing my copyrighted designs,” she said. “When my attorneys reached out to Old Navy to resolve this matter, they denied any copyright infringement, told to court to give me nothing and demanded I pay their legal costs. All I want is for Old Navy to do the right thing.”

In the past few years, this kind of theft from independent artists has made headlines thanks to companies like Zara and Urban Outfitters, both of which have been accused of ripping off artists’ work on multiple occasions. “Large companies like Old Navy should know better that images they find on the internet are someone else’s intellectual property,” Chin said, when asked about these other cases. “Working with artists and compensating us fairly would be the ethical thing to do.”

Chin explained that the legal process against Old Navy has been stressful, but she wants to send a message to all retailers. “I am not going to give up,” she said. “Companies need to know that they can’t steal from artists, not compensate them, and get away with it.”