Monday, May 16, 2016

Court out

The Brett Whiteley fake trial which we posted about nearly six years ago has finally ground to a conclusion. Surprise, surprise, the guy who was painting Whiteley copies in his garage was found guilty along with the dealer who sold them on to the rich person. Come June, they'll all be back in court to discuss sentencing.

The trial did bring out some classic statements, so all that time spent was not a complete waste. Expert witness Professor Robyn Sloggett, the director of the University of Melbourne's Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, for instance, reached deep into her professional lexicon and told the court that while Whiteley had an ‘extraordinary ability to paint birds’ the one in the fake painting looked to her like ‘a wet rag thrown out of a window.’ Just in case the court found this a bit technical, she added that the birds also looked to her ‘like they had been painted by a child …. It’s almost paint by numbers.’ And then to drive the last nail into her complex argument, ‘It’s just not how he worked.’ Experts.

Wendy Whiteley, the artist's ex-wife who had lived with him through most of his productive painting career ,was also clear that the works were not from Whiteley’s hand. ‘He never painted average paintings … because he wasn’t an average artist.’ And so that was that.

But the last word really goes to Whiteley himself who could have saved everyone a lot of time when he said, ‘Never trust an art dealer who'll sit in a room for more than ten minutes with a crooked picture.’ Mind you it’s possible he was thinking of another kind of crooked.

Image: bird in flight aka ‘wet rag’