A former area professor and her son, accused of selling nearly $700,000 worth of forged paintings to a well-known commodities trader have submitted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them in federal court.
The lawsuit was filed by Andrew Hall, a prominent Connecticut-based hedge fund manager and art collector. Hall alleges that he bought 24 forged paintings attributed to acclaimed American painter Leon Golub that came from the collection of Lorettann Gascard and her son, Nikolas Gascard. Lorettann Gascard is a former associate professor of art history and fine arts at Franklin Pierce University.
In the filing submitted in U.S. District Court in Concord Sept. 16, Hall alleges that he spent $676,250 on works that came from the Gascards’ collection — all of which, he said, were “clever forgeries.”
He is seeking this money in the lawsuit.
The Gascards’ motion filed Jan. 16 is the first time they’ve responded since the lawsuit was submitted against them four months ago.
In a motion filed with the federal court on Dec. 14, Hall’s attorneys said they had been unable to locate either Gascard and serve the suit, even after working with two county sheriffs’ departments and a private investigator.
The Gascards previously lived in a house in Rindge, according to a New York Times report. More recently, N.H. Public Radio reported, the two were living in an apartment in Keene.
On Jan. 11, Nikolas Gascard submitted a motion requesting a login and password to the federal judiciary’s Electronic Case Files system.
The Gascards offer a range of arguments about why the suit should be dismissed. A central argument in their filing is that Hall “(lumps) together and (fails) to particularize each defendant’s role in the fraud.”
In his filing, Hall said that between 2009 and 2011, the first seven paintings he acquired from the Gascards’ collection were consigned to auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s “by one or both of the Gascards.” The Gascards argue that Hall is “speculating” that they consigned these works to the auction houses.
They argue that, in his claim, Hall does not specify which of the Gascards allegedly consigned the fraudulent paintings to a particular auction house. They also say that a “time, place, or method” is not stated.
They also indicate that as an experienced collector of art, it was Hall’s responsibility to question the authenticity of the artwork before he purchased it.
As someone who had strong knowledge of Leon Golub’s artwork and had collected it since 2003, the Gascards argue Hall had “the means available to him” to appraise the work before engaging in alleged transactions with them.”
Also, “it can be said that while having the ability to do so, he chose not to avail himself of any expert input at the time of the sales,” they wrote in the motion.
The Gascards also said Hall “failed to seek documentation” about the paintings’ authenticity from them at the time of the alleged sales.
“Hall’s complaint is absolutely devoid of any facts, indicating that he ever requested documentation before entering into the alleged transactions,” they wrote.