Decades ago, a corrections officer met a teenage painter in a corrections facility. He later purchased a painting from the teenager for $100, allegedly to stop the teenager from going back to selling drugs. The painting was signed “Pete Doige 1976.” In the 2010s, the corrections officer tried to sell the painting claiming that it was authored by “Peter Doig,” a respected painter whose works sell for millions of dollars. Doig refused to authenticate the painting and stopped it from being sold at action. He was sued in 2013 by the corrections officer for a declaration that the work is authentic.
On August 23, the Illinois federal judge presiding over the trial held that Doig was not the author of the painting. To prove his case, Doig actually tracked down the painting’s true owner. However, since that Pete Doige passed away in 2012, it was the deceased’s sister who testified about the painting’s origin and Doige’s past.
This dispute, which was considered one of the first of its kind because it involved an artist who is still living, had the art world on edge. Critics were concerned that if the judge ruled against Doig, it would create a presumption that artists do not have the ultimate control over their name, brands, and affiliations and would open the door to an influx of similar lawsuits. Many believe that the right ruling was reached. As said by Doig in a public statement released by his attorney:
“That the plaintiffs in this case have shamelessly tried to deny another artist his legacy for money is despicable.”