Judge rules Peter Doig is not the artist in bizarre lawsuit

Former corrections officer Robert Fletcher says he bought this painting from artist Peter Doig in 1976. Bartlow Gallery LTD
Robert Fletcher’s painting (Bartlow Gallery LTD)

An art world whodunit with unusually high stakes has been playing out in court over the last few months, and now we have a ruling.

As LLNYC previously reported, Scottish painter Peter Doig, whose works sell for millions, was forced to go to court under high unusual circumstances: to proved that he didn’t paint a particular painting.

The painting in question is a desert landscape, that if attributed to Doig is valued at $5 million.The painting is owned by Robert Fletcher, a 62-year-old former corrections officer. Fletcher claims he bought the painting from the artist himself, while Doig was in prison in 1976 for LSD possession. The painting is even signed “Peter Doige [six].

However, not only does Doig deny doing the painting, he swears he was never in that prison.

“It’s odd in the sense that this is the first time that I’m aware of that an artist is being asked to testify that a work of art was not made by him,” Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, an art lawyer, told NPR. “Even if you’re alive, how do we say this is a work by you and this is not a work by you?”
Another element complicates the case, there was a man at the prison named Doige (with an “e”) who apparently liked to paint. But he died in 2012.

However, now the fight is over. A judge ruled this week that Doig is not the artist who painted the work in question, NPR reports.

If he had lost, experts say that it would lead to an avalanche of cases with art owners essentially seeking to upgrade their provenance. [NPR]