The Hollywood power broker Ron Meyer has filed a $10-million lawsuit against two art dealers he claims tricked him into buying a forged Mark Rothko painting. Meyer, who co-founded Creative Artists Agency and is a vice-chairman at Universal Studios, alleged in his complaint that in 2001, the art dealer Jamie Frankfort introduced him to another dealer, Susan Seidel, who sold him a work she presented as a genuine, signed Rothko, for $900,000. For his role in the deal, Meyer paid Frankfort a $45,000 commission.
The purported Rothko hung in Meyer’s house without being outed as a forgery for nearly two decades. But earlier this year, according to Meyer’s lawsuit, he learned that the painting had not been signed by Rothko, had not been acquired directly from the artist by its previous owners, and was not included in the artist’s catalogue raisonné. It was, in fact, “a total forgery.”
Meyer has claimed that were the work a genuine Rothko, it would be worth “at least $10 million.” He’s therefore suing Frankfort, Seidel, her company, and five John Does for breach of warranty and fraud, and seeking damages of $10 million. If the defendants claim they sold him the painting not knowing it was a forgery, the complaint states he will seek the return of his $945,000.
Though Meyer’s forgery accusation does not appear connected in any way to the Knoedler Gallery scandal, that case did involve a number of fake Rothkos. The final federal lawsuit stemming from the Knoedler forgery case, settled earlier this year, revolved around a purported Rothko painting that had been sold to a collector for $5.5 million.