The Varnished Culture had some observations, scrupulously avoiding any prejudicial fallout, about the art fraud case concerning Whiteley’s alleged painting of, inter alia, “Orange Lavender Bay.” Concerning the alleged victim, the chap who bought the piece later accused of being a fake by certain experts, we suggested: When you pay, not for the work, but for the provenance, you get what you deserve.
The defendants were convicted and copped custodial sentences, but we had commented in our earlier piece that serving of the sentences had been stayed pending appeal, the trial Judge commenting “I think there is a compelling argument that the verdicts are unsafe.” Quoted by the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal, he said “…it was not open to a properly instructed jury to exclude the reasonable possibility that the three paintings the subject of the charges were created by Mr Whiteley in 1988. If that was right, verdicts of not guilty had to follow.” This from the chap who instructed the jury, so attention needed to be paid. The convictions were quashed a few days ago and there is to be no re-trial.
Years of legal activity and cost have been piddled down a drain. We could stomach a grand forgery stoush over, say, a Rubens, a Rembrandt, a Da Vinci, a Corot, or a Breughel, but Brett Whiteley? From his painters’ garret somewhere in the celestial sphere, Brett must be laughing till he wets his metaphorical pants.