A top fashion industry executive testified Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan that he was misled by New York’s leading art gallery into paying millions for a phony Mark Rothko painting at the first civil trial over a Long Island woman’s $80 million art swindle.
Ex-Gucci CEO Domenico de Sole, now the chair of Tom Ford International and Sotheby’s, said he trusted the then-stellar reputation of the Knoedler Gallery and its art director Ann Freedman, but was fooled by their guarantees of the painting’s ownership.
“I got a fake painting for $8.3 million and they don’t want to give it back to me,” said de Sole, one of a group of buyers of phony art suing the now-defunct Knoedler gallery and Freedman.
The gallery had acquired paintings purportedly by Rothko, Jackson Pollack and other famous artists through Glafira Rosales of Sands Point. She pleaded guilty in 2013 to having commissioned forgeries from an artist in Queens. She has not been sentenced.
The de Sole trial began on Monday, and is expected to last several weeks. Freedman and the gallery contend they were duped by Rosales.