A disputed painting has dragged the Scottish-born Canadian painter Peter Doig into the courtroom. The painting not only looks nothing like a work by the artist but it also carries a dubious and unworkable provenance. Robert Fletcher and art dealer Peter Bartlow filed the original suit in 2013 and now it has finally come to trial.
Said to be created a 40-years ago while Doig was incarcerated in jail in Thunder Bay Canada the canvas signed “Peter Doige 1976 was purchased by Robert Fletcher, a guard for the princely sum of $100. Doig denies having painted the desert landscape, and claims he was never incarcerated in Thunder Bay or attended Lakehead University in Ontario. He says the plaintiffs have no record of his supposed incarceration. He was 16 or 17 years old in 1976, the year the painting is dated, and says he was living with his parents than in Toronto.
Fletcher and Bartlow are co-plaintiffs in the Chicago court case against Doig, and are asking for $5 million dollars in damages and a declaration from the court that the painting is authentic. Doig’s attorneys have stated they have found the real artist, a man named Peter E. Doige, who died in 2012. His half sister, Marilyn Doige Bovard, previously affirmed that the late Doige was incarcerated in Thunder Bay in 1976, and was an amateur painter. She provided the defense with her brother’s other paintings for comparison.
Doig says that when he first saw a photograph of the “Pete Doige” painting, he immediately knew it wasn’t his. “I said, ‘Nice painting,’,” he told the New York Times in an interview. “‘Not by me.’” The court papers expand on this: “I did not begin to paint on canvas until late 1979,” he wrote. “(Before that, I had done some pencil and ink drawings on paper) … If I had painted that painting when I was 16, I would admit it.” The case continues.