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Alec Baldwin settles lawsuit, will donate half the proceeds to rebuild Sag Harbor Cinema

Alec Baldwin attends the Elton John AIDS Foundation

Alec Baldwin attends the Elton John AIDS Foundation gala on Nov. 7, 2017, in Manhattan. Credit: Invision/AP / Andy Kropa

Alec Baldwin says half of his recent settlement with the Mary Boone Gallery, which the actor says surreptitiously sold him a copy of a painting rather than the original he wanted, will go toward rebuilding the fire-ravaged Sag Harbor Cinema.

Baldwin, 59, told The New Yorker in a story published Monday that the prestigious gallery had agreed last week to pay him an unspecified seven-figure amount to settle the lawsuit he had filed last year contending fraud. The case had been scheduled to go to trial in 2018, the magazine said, but emails uncovered by Baldwin’s attorneys during pretrial discovery appeared to incriminate the gallery.

Boone disputes this. “I paid him not because I was guilty, but because I didn’t want to have eight years of him in my life” in court, she told Newsday. She said Baldwin had breached the settlement’s nondisclosure agreement, but added, “What am I gonna do? Sue him and have him in my life? I don’t want this person in my life.”

A representative for Baldwin had no comment. Artist Ross Bleckner, whose 1996 painting “Sea and Mirror” is at the heart of the dispute, told The New Yorker, “It is resolved. I am sorry the whole thing happened.”

The Massapequa-raised Baldwin had asked Boone in 2010 to purchase Bleckner’s “Sea and Mirror” for him from the collector who owned it. The “30 Rock” Emmy Award-winner paid $190,000 for what he belatedly learned was a copy, which Bleckner, Baldwin said, later admitted.

Though the painting he received carried the correct inventory number, Baldwin felt the colors did not seem right. “They were bright, like M&M’s,” he told the magazine, adding that “the brushstrokes were less feathery, and the paint smelled, well, fresh.”

He contacted Boone with his suspicions. She told him, he said, that “the owner was a heavy smoker, so Ross had taken the painting off the stretcher and cleaned and repaired it for me, as a courtesy, before delivering it. At first, I was not prepared to tell myself it was a fake. I was inclined to believe them, partly because it was Ross, who I respect and whose work I love.”

Six years later, after the statute of limitations for criminal charges had passed, artist friends concurred with Baldwin’s suspicions, as did an art expert Baldwin hired.

“Words like ‘counterfeit’ and ‘fake’ are being used in a sensational fashion,” Boone separately told Newsday in an email. “No one is contesting that Ross Bleckner is the artist who made this painting, therefore the work cannot be fake.”

Baldwin’s planned donation to the Sag Harbor Cinema will help restore the more than 100-year-old Main Street institution that was largely destroyed by fire on December 16, 2016. The Sag Harbor Partnership, after months of negotiations, entered into a contract to purchase the Cinema from its longtime owner, Gerald Mallow on April 6.

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