Deception and Fine Art – The Sandspur

Photo by Alexander Knobloch

The Rollins Museum of Art has received an increase in potential donors following the discovery of suspected forgeries at the Orlando Museum of Art.

In June 2022, the Orlando Museum of Art’s Heroes and Monsters exhibit—a collection of 25 paintings on cardboard attributed to American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat—was seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over allegations that put under doubt the authenticity of the works, acc New York Times. As of last week, several of the museum’s board members were fired, and interim director Luder Whitlock resigned.

In light of the exhibit being dismantled less than three miles away, the Rollins Art Museum has met with a number of potential donors who want to sever associations with the fraudulent activity.

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

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

Photo by Alexander Knobloch

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

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

According to Dr. Ena Heller, Bruce A. Beale Director at the Rollins Art Museum, fraud is not very common or expected in the art world—especially among legitimate, verified collectors.

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

The New York Times claims that OMA’s recently fired director and CEO, Aaron de Groft, has persisted with the narrative that Basquiat’s paintings are authentic. De Groft claims they were discovered in a warehouse in Los Angeles ten years ago, although one of the paintings attributed to Basquiat was painted on cardboard with a shipping label that was not used until six years after his death.

The Central Florida community will not be able to take part in the next three exhibitions from OMA, which were canceled following the raids and further questions about the legitimacy of the upcoming exhibitions, but The Rollins Museum of Art is continuing with its Fall 2022 Exhibitions – with admission free.

Programming will begin on September 17th and end on December 31st. The following exhibits are presented: Modernism: Iranian, Turkish and Indian Art, 1960-1970; Barbara Sorensen: Billows; An Act of Kindness: A World of Difference; and What’s new? Recent acquisitions by the Martin Andersen-Grazia Andersen Foundation.
More information on upcoming events, including a tour of an exhibition in Spain with curator Dr. Gisela Carbonell, a tour by Dr. Ena Heller, a conversation with artist Barbara Sorensen, a tour with Romano and Mariolina Salvatori Fellow Lauren McLevy, and a lecture by Lynn Gumpert. director of New York University’s Gray Art Gallery, can all be found on the RMA website.

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