One of the reportedly fake Leon Golub paintings, "Welcome To It" (ca 1980), on the Christie's website (screenshot by the author)

One of the reportedly fake Leon Golub paintings, “Welcome To It” (ca 1980), bought by Andrew Hall at Christie’s (screenshot by the author)

Wall Street hedge fund manager and art collector Andrew Hall, who famously earned $100-million in 2008 as an oil trader for Citigroup, is suing a mother-son duo who allegedly sold him 24 fake paintings by Leon Golub. According to a lawsuit filed in the US District Court of New Hampshire on September 16, Hall is seeking damages — including a refund of the $676,250 he cumulatively paid for the 24 artworks — from Lorettann Gascard and her son Nikolas Gascard of New Hampshire.

According to the lawsuit, Lorettann Gascard, an artist and former art history professor at Franklin Pierce University, claimed to have acquired many of the works directly from Golub, whom she said had been a close friend from the time she attended his art classes at Fairleigh Dickinson University from 1968 to 1970 until his death in 2004. Other pieces peddled by the Gascards as authentic Golubs had allegedly come from Lorettann’s late sister-in-law.

Hall is not the only person who fell for the Gascards’ reputedly cagey Golubs. He bought six of them from Christie’s (at auctions in 2009, 2010, and 2011), one from Sotheby’s (at a September 2010 auction), and another that was listed on Artnet (in January 2011). After contacting Lorettann directly, Hall acquired 10 purported Golubs directly from the Gascards in March 2011, and another six in October 2011. According to court documents, the Gascards claimed that the works had been “acquired directly from the artist and have come into the  possession of the current owner (Nikolas Gascard) by descent.”

The paintings’ provenance didn’t begin to unravel until late 2014, when Hall’s private museum in Reading, Vermont, the Hall Art Foundation, began to plan an exhibition of the collector’s Golub works. The Hall Foundation contacted the Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts — the foundation set up by Golub and his wife, artist Nancy Spero, to manage their legacies — to confirm the titles and dates of the works slated to be included in the exhibition. In February 2015 Golub’s son, Stephen Golub, and the Spero and Golub Foundation’s assistant Samm Kunce (a longtime studio assistant to Golub) agreed to examine the works destined for the Hall Foundation exhibition. The following month, Stephen Golub sounded the alarm.

“In addition to the works themselves being  problematic, as judged by Samm [Kunce] directly and others among us who have viewed images, there are other circumstances that raise questions about their authenticity,” reads an email Stephen Golub sent to the Hall Foundation on March 28, 2015, and quoted in Hall’s lawsuit. “My brothers and I have no recollection of ever meeting or even hearing about Ms. Gascard. Our parents, and Leon in particular, were quite gregarious and their friends frequently came to our residence for dinner, so it’s surprising that we have never heard of Gascard.”

According to Hall’s lawsuit, the Gascards have not responded to any inquiries since March 2015. The New York Times reported that Lorretann Gascard left her job at Franklin Pierce University a year and a half ago, and has not lived at her last known address in Rindge, New Hampshire, for at least a year.

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...