“This is very dangerous for you to tread such ground, in more ways than one”

One of our readers has written the charmingly threatening letter below to ask us to please refrain from noting that “a reputed art authentication expert, who claimed to have found the finger print of Jackson Pollock on a cache of disputed ‘Jackson Pollock’ paintings that were exhibited at Boston College’s McMullen Museum in 2007, may be a forger and fraud, according to an article in the July 12 & 19 New Yorker.” So we hereby promise to try to remember to stop mentioning that there’s a New Yorker article that says that “forensic art specialist” Peter Paul Biro may be a forger and fraud.

The entire text of the helpful letter follows:

Per your article entitled “New Yorker: Pollock fingerprint expert a fraud”

It’s dangerously libelous to say the authenticator Mr. Biro is a fraud. No where did the New Yorker journalist say Mr. Biro’s work “may be a forger and fraud” as your article states. While I understand your need to spin the article into something sensational, Mr. Biro was never arrested or convicted of such crimes that you allege. Again, this is very dangerous for you to tread such ground, in more ways than one. Please correct your article to be truthful, accurate and fair. Believe me, you’ll be doing yourself, and the community of journalists a great favor.

Thomas W. Wilson, Jr.

For the record, The New Yorker reported that Peter Paul Biro:

refused to reimburse the Wises, who ultimately sued. In an affidavit, the Wises said that Biro and his father had “perpetrated a fraud, in that they knowingly sold . . . a forgery.” … On September 3, 1986, the court found in favor of the Wises, and ordered Peter Paul and Geza Biro to pay them the seventeen thousand dollars they had spent on the pictures, as well as interest.

(p. 9 to 10 of The New Yorker article, which provides numerous other enlightening examples.)

By the bye, when we reported that the New Yorker reported that Paul Biro may be a forger and fraud … oops … we contacted Ellen Landau, a Pollock scholar at Case Western Reserve University; Boston College art historian Claude Cernuschi; and McMullen Museum director Nancy Netzer, all of whom organized the “Pollock Matters” exhibit at McMullen Museum in 2007, to see what they might have to say about what The New Yorker said, but they have yet to respond.

One Response to ““This is very dangerous for you to tread such ground, in more ways than one””

  1. To clarify, your article’s headline is “New Yorker: Pollock fingerprint expert a fraud”

    This is not true. The New Yorker never stated that he is a fraud. Of course, they may have hinted with clever wordplay, but nontheless, never actually overtly state he is a fraud.

    On the contrary your publication fails to employ The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. That of course is very dangerous because it opens your publication up to a series of ethical and credibility issues.

    If you cannot operate properly in the business of journalistic reporting under the ethics guidelines, then perhaps you should get out of that business. Unless, of course, you make an attempt to tighten up your reporting skills and raise your level of professionalism that reflects fair and accurate reporting, not opinions.