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Split decision in lawsuit over forged paintings sold by ex-Franklin Pierce professor and her son

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 01. 2018 11:09AM
Artist Leon Golub earned his reputation as a painter of war scenes and other acts of violence. Mercenaries IV was painted in 1980. (COURTESY)

CONCORD — A federal judge awarded a split decision of the six-count lawsuit in which a wealthy Florida art collector claimed a former Franklin Pierce University professor and her son conned him into buying nearly $700,000 of what were proven to be “clever forgeries” of a noted American artist’s paintings.

Andrew Hall, a successful Wall Street commodities trader, charges that from 2009 to 2011, Lorettann Gascard, 69, and her son, Nikolas, 35, sold him two dozen paintings that they insisted were originals done by noted artist Leon Golub.

But Hall said as he planned to display these works for a 2015 exhibition at a rural museum on his property in Reading, Vt., he learned from other experts that all the paintings he had gotten through the Gascards were fake.

In a detailed ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Steven McAuliffe dismissed the warranty claim Hall had brought, concluding that because the case was brought four years after the purchase of the art, that was too late.

Two other charges were dismissed after Hall agreed to drop claims that the sale was a breach of contract and a violation of New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act.

But McAuliffe declined the bid of the Gascards to dismiss the other three charges, fraud, conspiracy to defraud and unjust enrichment.

The judge said the Gascards failed to convince him there were no issues of fraud that could be proven at trial.

“Hall, on the other hand, has pointed to sufficient facts which, if credited as true, would permit a jury to conclude by clear and convincing evidence that the Gascards knew the paintings at issue were forgeries (or, at a minimum, that they were consciously indifferent to that fact),” McAuliffe wrote.

The decision means those three remaining counts are on a path to go to trial later this year.

Hall has settled claims against the auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s. McAuliffe said what remains at issue in alleged damages in this case are 16 forged paintings bought directly from the Gascards and another one on consignment for a total value of $460,000.

The Gascards, who now live in Keene, have been representing themselves.

While they don’t assert in legal filings the paintings are all genuine, they said it was up to Hall to authenticate them and he was the one who was negligent.

Former Professor Gascard sued Franklin Pierce University in 2014 for disability, sex and age discrimination. She had accused the school of retaliating against her for filing a disability complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and for bullying her after she went out on a short-term disability leave in early 2012 for “situational stress.”

FPU tried to dismiss her entire lawsuit.

After U.S. District Court Judge Joseph LaPlante denied that motion in March 2015, the two parties reached a confidential settlement with the help of a mediator and the suit was closed.

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