Maggie Hatfield v Donna Child and Artworld Inc. (2009)




(Toronto Small Claims Court)
Judgment at Trial
Maggie Hatfield
Donna Child and Artworld Inc. 
(c.o.b. as Artworld of Sherway)


A July 2009 Claim for $25 000 for misrepresentation and fraud
Status: Trial: Sept 1 2011. Nov 16 2011. Feb 23/24 2012. June 4 2012. On March 25 2013 DJ Martial ruled that the artwork was, on a balance of probabilities, genuine . The plaintiff appealed the decision which was affirmed on Dec 17 2013.
Plaintiff Exhibits

Defendant’s Exhibits

Norval Morrisseau’s Sworn Declarations directed at Artworld of Sherway

    • 17 September 2004 “I enclose a copy of an Affidavit…as sworn by Mr. Morrisseau…describing numerous fakes and imitations as listed in a catalogue put out by the Maslak-McLeod Gallery. If any of those pieces are for sale by your gallery this weekend, please realize that you are selling fakes. Please also realize that Mr. Morrisseau does not have any Representation Agreement with Maslak-McLeod…and does not recognize Maslak-McLeod as being able to authenticate any of Mr. Morrisseau’s works”.
    • 25 February 2005 “various artworks that you are offering for sale attributed to our client are in fact fakes. We and our client are prepared to meet with you and review and advise you of which works…are misattributed to our client”, “our client advises us the works in your possession advertised on your website as by Morrisseau are not by his hand”.
Related Media
Ritchie Sinclair appearing on Canada AM to speak about Morrisseau issues in 2014 Artworld representatives appear on Canada AM to respond to Mr. Sinclair’s allegations in 2014
Retired teacher continues legal fight over disputed Norval Morrisseau painting. (May 11, 2013) Ottawa Citizen

(Article Excerpt) The appeal also alleges the small-claims court judge erred by “unreasonably and incorrectly relying in the decision upon misapprehended facts, statements of fact that do not form a part of the evidence, unsupported non-expert hearsay evidence, and documents w hich w ere never disclosed or made evidence …” The appeal lists several examples, including the judge’s statement that Morrisseau had “Alzheimer’s disease.”

Art lovers beware: Norval Morrisseau fakes are still on the market, says lawyer (Apr 8 2013) Ottawa Citizen

(Article Excerpt) “My opinion, and that of my client, based upon what I have seen, is that there is a huge problem with the existence of fakes, and people should be particularly cautious when purchasing the work of Norval Morrisseau, and examine each painting on a case-by-case basis, and not rely unduly on a single statement about a single painting made by a single small-claims courts judge.” … Sommer says that in his opinion, the judgment contains errors of fact and law. For example, the judge noted that Morrisseau suffered from Alzheimer’s, he said….Morrisseau in his later years suffered from Parkinson’s disease. The distinction may be important, because Morrisseau’s mental state around the time Hatfield bought her painting was a key issue in the trial….The judge also ruled, in an apparent error, that “the court finds as a fact that the painted black dry brush signature on the back of the painting Wheel of Life is that of Wilfred Morrisseau.”

Market for Norval Morrisseau art work may pick up after court ruling (Apr 3 2013) Ottawa Citizen

(Article Excerpt) – Don Robinson, a Toronto art gallery owner who was Morrisseau’s principal agent for 19 years, testified that the artist never signed the back of his paintings in black paint. All of the paintings sold at the auctions were fake, Robinson testified. He also suggested that Morrisseau’s own estranged family was involved in the production of fraudulent paintings. …It’s the first court ruling on the authenticity of a painting by Morrisseau, as far as he is aware, says Brian Shiller, the lawyer for Artworld of Sherway, the defendant in the case. “Hopefully now is a great time for Canadians to discover, or rediscover, Morrisseau,” he said. “Because there are a number of (similar) paintings out there, and they can probably be bought for very good value.” …. That should make it easier for galleries across Canada to sell similar paintings that came from the southern Ontario auctions, confident they are genuine Morrisseaus, said Shiller.

Court rules disputed Morrisseau painting is authentic (Apr 2 2013) Globe & Mail

(Article Excerpt) – Canadian art scene observers who have been trying to prove that the market for Norval Morrisseau paintings has been awash in fakes and forgeries for years have been dealt a major setback in a decision from the Ontario Small Claims Court. Deputy Judge Paul Martial of Toronto ruled on Tuesday that a Morrisseau canvas titled Wheel of Life that a Sarnia schoolteacher bought in 2005 and came to believe was bogus is “on the balance of probabilities … an original Norval Morrisseau”…. Disputes over the authenticity of Morrisseau paintings have been fought by collectors, auctioneers, dealers and scholars, as well as representatives and relatives of the artist – and even Mr. Morrisseau himself.

Art factions square off over Morrisseau – (June 4 2012) Ottawa Citizen

(Article Excerpt) – One believes that the Morrisseau market, particularly since the mid-1990s, has been severely compromised by hundreds, even thousands of fakes – “the greatest fraud in Canadian art history,” to quote the Feb. 23 court testimony of Donald Robinson whose Toronto gallery, Kinsman Robinson, served as Morrisseau’s primary dealer from 1989 through 2007.