The Lower East Side’s Woodward Gallery is defending itself against allegations made by an Oregon investor.
In a lawsuit filed June 30, Nira Levine, 85, claimed that John and Kristine Woodward doctored authenticity papers, causing her to overpay for dozens of Andy Warhol prints. In 2008, Levine and the gallery split the $180,000 cost of 90 prints from Warhol’s “Space Fruit 1979” series. The story was widely reported in media outlets from New York Post to prominent art industry publications such as Artforum. [The Lo-Down provided a link to the Artforum story earlier this month.]
Over the weekend, we received the following statement from Kristine Woodward:
Woodward Gallery emphatically refutes Nira Levine’s baseless and inflammatory allegations. The Spacefruit prints which Levine, an art dealer herself, purchased through the Gallery, were authenticated with a rating of “A” by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board. The Andy Warhol Foundation has just confirmed those findings. The original Certificates of Authenticity were transferred to Nira Levine when she took possession of the prints in 2014. The prints themselves are additionally stamped with the aforementioned “A” numbers. Accordingly, there is no factual basis for her to now- or ever- claim that the prints are fake. It is shameful that Nira Levine would assert a dubious statement to the press when she in fact has obvious proof of her investment in hand.
Courthouse News Service reported that Levine is also questioning the value of many other works purchased through the gallery:
Levine is seeking a discovery order compelling the gallery to disclose all documentation of acquisition and sale for the rest of the approximately 140 pieces of art that were jointly purchased for Levine by the Woodwards. The collection is composed of a veritable “who’s who” of 20th Century painters, including the iconic pop art of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist, along with the street art of Keith Haring and Richard Hambleton, as well as a Jean-Michel Basquiat and a half dozen paintings attributed to Alexander Calder.
The Woodward Gallery, located at 133 Eldridge St., was established in 1994.