These paintings constitute a portion of 300 newly discovered artworks said to be by Keith Haring that are being bought and sold on the international art market. Whether or not they are actually by Keith is a significant aspect of this narrative.
Just home from Montreal. I’ll unpack in the morning.
Dawn and Mia are here to greet me. They know me so well; they can feel my heart beating across the room. After long hugs, they ask me about my trip.
“The trip was great except I got stopped and checked by border guards. Long story. They went through everything – down to my toothbrush and Q-tips.”
“The hotel was…uh…it didn’t cost a lot, at least. When I got there, I called Victor right away. I told him I didn’t want to start filming yet. I wanted to talk privately first. ”
“You were really wound up when you left,” Dawn says.
“Seems like you’re even more wound up now,” adds Mia.
“Yeah, well it was cool to meet Victor in person, finally. He met me out on the sidewalk, because I had called him from the cab. He looked like his picture – trimmed beard, bright eyes – scholarly.”
“Sultana is really nice. Shes pretty and smart and has a knack for saying the right thing at just the right time. She made a real Moroccan dinner – several courses. It was excellent.”
“Did you get to meet Ross,” asks Dawn.
“He came over before dinner. He’s a good guy. It’s obvious he’s a long-time friend of Victor and Sultana.”
Ross Bracewell manages Victor Lallouz’ projects as producer, business manager, and trusted advisor. A lot of the technical communications I’ve done in the past months have come through Ross.
Mia jumps to the big question. “So did you see the artwork? Did it look real?”
“I saw what I needed to see. The big ones were rolled up. I just don’t want to say a lot about how they look. OK?”
Mia looks like, for the first time in her life, I am dissembling on a direct question. And, of course, that’s just what I am doing.
I feel like a louse. I apologize and say,”…It’s just that I made up my mind not to answer that question because it’s not my business to say if they look authentic.”
“They looked good enough to let Victor know he should keep working on authentication. He has a lot of documentation on their history and he has a solid reputation as an art researcher. I could see that for myself – his notes and all. He’s studied their smallest details – knows them by heart.”
“Why did you come back so soon?” asks Dawn.
“I just said to Victor, ’We waited six months already – so many things have happened in that time. The situation keeps changing. And we’re just reacting. Since we’ve been talking about the best way to get the news out, one of the collections has been sold again.’”
“I said I’m not waiting any more. I’m going to start writing. It’s a huge story already and I’m going to tell it any way I can.”
“What about authentication?” They say this in unison.
“Victor is getting the collection ready. He’s getting better photos made now.”
“Remember that story in the Washington Post about the painting attributed to Keith? They published a picture of it when its authenticity was under dispute. In that case, that was the story. This is so much bigger than that.”
“When I found out part of the collection was sold again – that’s when I decided to speak out. A lot of artwork attributed to Keith is being traded on the international art market. Big money is changing hands. That’s newsworthy. And I’m going to tell people about it.”
Dawn and Mia look at each other with knowing eyes. I can sense their thoughts and feelings – the combination of excitement and concern they feel when they sense I am on an unstoppable trajectory…
Images: Collection of Victor and Sultana Lallouz
Note: Essential details of the story behind these artworks appear in Part 1 and
Part 10 of this series of ARTology blog entries.