The Morrisseau Family & Alleged Forgery
Excerpt from the Closing Statement of the defendant about plaintiff, James White.
” The Plaintiff testified that he doesn’t know Morrisseau art. When an image of Morrisseau’s most famous painting, Man Changing into Thunderbird that hangs in the Art Gallery of Ontario was shown to him he denied ever seeing it. When shown a forgery pictured below the famous painting ( Exhibit 3 Tab 6, pg 5) the plaintiff testified that he bought the painting from his associate Sunny Kim for $70K, plus taxes. He testified that Morrisseau’s son, David, had owned this painting since 1971 and sold it to Sunny Kim around 2002 who then sold it to the plaintiff in 2008. He then had it appraised at $190K. (Exhibit 3 Tab 6, pg 6) In spite of this, he testified, and was quoted in a newspaper stating that Morrisseau left his estranged children with “nothing, nothing, nothing” (Exhibit 3, Tab 8). The plaintiff also admitted to representing Morrisseau’s sons, David and Christian Morrisseau, at the time that forgery and 48 others appeared at an exhibition from the private collection of Jim White (Exhibit 3, Tab 7). When questioned about this new, fresh, colourful collection of 49 paintings that appeared in 2008 the plaintiff testified that these paintings were not sourced to Randy Potter auctions, but sourced to the Morrisseau family. It is the Defendants view and position that Morrisseau’s sons are forgers of their father’s art and that the plaintiff admits to working with them to facilitate their art sales.”
Closing Submission Statements by defendant, Ritchie Sinclair in White v Sinclair
Cross-Examination Excerpt of Jim White in White v Sinclair in 2014
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: Q. Okay, well are you aware that this painting is one of Norval Morrisseau’s most famous paintings?
JIM WHITE: A. I am not.
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: Q. Are you aware that the AGO’s had it on display for five years?
JIM WHITE: A. I am not. I am not.
THE COURT: Let’s just identify it. It’s called Thunderbird People, right?
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: Right. No, the first one….
THE COURT: Shaman Teaching Thunderbird People.
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: Well, that’s, that’s the one below, Your Honour. That’s the one that Mr. White purchased.
THE COURT: The one on top says Man Changing into Thunderbird.
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: That’s, that’s the one that Art Gallery of Ontario owns and as you can see….
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: Q. Mr. White, have you ever looked at the Art of Norval Morrisseau book, page 140 to 141?
JIM WHITE: A. I have skimmed through those books. Yes, I have.
Q. In fact, you actually have page 147 of that book in your last tab of Exhibit 2, right?
A. Yes, page 143.
Q. So somebody looked through this book, right?
A. I said I have skimmed through the books. Absolutely, all the books.
Q. Okay. So this painting appears in this 1979 Art of Norval Morrisseau book that was widely published, correct?
A. I’m sure it does.
Q. Okay. Now below it, is the one that you paid $70,000 to buy from Mr. Kim?
Q. And you gave him a cheque…
A. I did.
Q. …is that what you said…
A. I did say that.
Q. … to buy it?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. I see. And what, what year did you buy that from him?
A. 2002 or 3 probably – back quite a ways.
Q. 2003 or 3?
A. Yeah, I don’t know exactly.
Q. Okay. And according to this page that we were looking at before, this authentication by Marlowe Goring here….
Q. Back there? He authenticates it July 2nd, 2008, that’s correct?
A. That is correct.
Q. And, and it was sold according to your records?
Q. Okay, let me check again.
A. It remains unsold as we speak.
Q. Oh. Now, according to – well, whether it was sold or not is not really important. Okay. I suggest – I’d like to suggest to you, put it to you, that this, this is a forgery of this most famous published Morrisseau painting above done on a huge scale with everything just kind of, you know, canvasses because it’s a six-canvas painting, everything’s been switched around, but it’s, it’s still a forgery. I’d suggest that – I believe that’s a forgery, can you compare those two and see if there’s….
A. Well, certainly I can see them as well as you, and I see no reason why you should call it – why do you call it a forgery? Because it is similar to the other?
Q. Well, the only difference being that the Thunderbird – for Man Changing into Thunderbird is in the middle instead of at the end in the process?
A. So are you trying to tell me that artists do not paint the same picture over and over again?
Q. Well, when, when Mr. Kim sold you this painting in around 2002 to 2003, where did he tell you he got it?
A. David Morrisseau.
Q. From David Morrisseau. And you mentioned that David Morrisseau’s a painter, correct?
A. He is.
Q. Has David Morrisseau ever worked with you?
A. You mean painted in front of me? What do you mean?
Q. Has he ever painted in front of you?
Q. Has he ever stayed at your home?
A. No. He came for dinner if that counts.
Q. And you said that – mentioned that David Morrisseau has an exclusive contract with Sunny Kim?
A. To represent his work, yes, he does.
Q. To represent his work. Did you ever sell any works for Mr. David Morrisseau?
Q. Okay. Did you, did you ever ask him to authenticate your works for you?
A. They were $75 each. I don’t think it was worth any time or trouble.
Q. I don’t understand.
A. They sold for $75 each. Why would I….
Q. Oh, you mean David’s work?
A. Yeah. Why would I have them authenticated?
Q. No, I’m, I’m saying did you ever have David Morrisseau authenticate your purported Morrisseau’s?
A. No, I had him authenticate my Norval Morrisseau paintings.
Q. Okay. So he was authenticating your works? Did he authenticate this piece for you?
A. I did not speak to him about that piece, but he had signed the back saying that his father had given it to him for his birthday in Winnipeg in 1971.
Q. His father had given it to him for his birthday in 1970 what?
A. 1 – in late 1971.
Q. 1971. And, yet, it says it’s a 1977 painting here. In any case, so you got this painting from Sunny Kim directly who…
Q. exclusively represents David Morrisseau, correct?
A. Well, he has a contract. David, of course, does not live by it.
Q. Who is an artist, correct? David’s an artist?
A. David is an artist. Yes, that’s correct.
Q. Can you give me a, a figure of how many paintings that you’ve had David Morrisseau, your purported Morrisseaus, that he’s authenticated for you or signed on the back himself?
A. Thirty, forty, thirty to forty.
Q. Thirty or forty? Did you pay him to do that?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. What did he sign these on the back with when he – as you mentioned with this one….
A. Black marker.
Q. Black, black marker? Now you mentioned….
THE COURT: Sorry. Who, who marked – who signed on the back?
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: David…
A. David Morrisseau.
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: …Morrisseau, the oldest son of Norval Morrisseau.
THE COURT: All right.
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: Q. So you mentioned that Norval Morrisseau never left his – what was the term you used in the newspaper? He left them nothing, nothing, nothing?
A. That should cover it.
Q. But somehow, David Morrisseau carried this $190,000 painting around with him from 1971 until you decided to buy it from Sunny Kim in 2002, does that make sense?
A. It does yes.
Q. Well, but you, you said that he got nothing; they got nothing from their father?
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: Q. Have you ever met Morrisseau’s youngest son, what’s his name?
JIM WHITE: A. I have no idea.
Q. Do you know Christian Morrisseau?
A. Of course.
Q. Have you ever seen him paint?
Q. Has he ever painted for you or with you?
A. He has painted in my home a couple of paintings, yes.
Q. He has?
A. He has.
Q. Has he been authenticating your – the work of his father for you?
A. He has signed statements of authenticity. Yes, he has.
Q. Can you give me a figure on how many you figure he’s done for you in that?
A. Over the years, it’s, it’s a wild guess – 40, 50; wild guess.
Q. Forty or fifty.
RITCHIE SINCLAIR: Q. Okay. So is there any chance in your mind that David Morrisseau might have painted the picture because….
JIM WHITE: A. No, I have not seen anything. I’ve seen several hundred of David’s paintings in various galleries. He’s just not that talented.
Q. How about Christian, is he that talented?
Q. You don’t think Christian could paint that?
A. I do not.