The Conspiracy Theorists Utterly Shot Down in Court Case Round #3 – Joe McLeod, Jackie Bugera, James White, Donna Child, Sun Nam Kim v Ritchie Sinclair
In December 2008, five leading Canadian Morrisseau art retail merchants launched a lawsuit charging defamation against Ritchie Sinclair, one of the leading Conspiracy Theorists, who, as a Ritchie-come-lately, didn’t “discover” Morrisseau fakes until October 2008, when he suddenly saw an opportunity for self-promotion, and quickly became an extremist convert.
As the operator of a notoriously malicious website he attacked their paintings as forgeries as well as their personal reputations, and those of First Nations artists they represented or associated themselves with, such as Goyce Kakegamic, Joshim Kakegamik, Don Ningewance, and numerous members of the Morrisseau family.
He has posted over 1,000 low resolution images gathered from all over the web, of paintings created in the 1970s by Canada’s most famous Aboriginal artist, Norval Morrisseau. Mr. Sinclair has declared that all these 1000 paintings are forgeries, even though he has never seen, or personally examined, over 99% of them, and even though they were all painted long before Mr. Sinclair had even heard of Norval Morrisseau, or even seen a painting by him, according to Sinclair’s own court testimony in 2012.
Astonishingly, the 1000 paintings that have been labelled as forgeries by Mr. Sinclair include paintings that are in famous art museums that exhibit First Nations art: Smithsonian Institution, Winnipeg Art Gallery, University of Victoria Art Gallery, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, National Museum of the American Indian, University of Oklahoma Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, McMaster University Art Collection.
Sinclair, with postings that started on Oct 13, 2008, made an abrupt about-face, that utterly perplexed informed observers of the scene, and started to denounce the very same paintings – and people too – that he had been praising for several years before.
Morrisseau “masterpieces” he had celebrated, now became instant “Inferior Counterfeits.” And people he had praised for publicizing Norval Morrisseau’s art became instantly transformed into lowlife “forgers” including some of the top Canadian Aboriginal artists.
And now, at last, in his new guise as chief witch hunter, or attack dog for rooting out supposed Morrisseau forgeries, he began to get the attention and respect he had craved for so long, from Donald Robinson, and the staff of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Encouraged by the support, from the Principal Morrisseau Dealer, he quickly accelerated his attacks from paintings to people.
Sinclair – a white guy, who likes to flash a pseudo-Indian name he made up: “Stardreamer” – has maliciously ridiculed and defamed numerous First Nations artists on his website, characterizing them as some kind of lowlife “forgers,” including Dr. Goyce Kakegamik, famed wildlife artist Don Ningewance, and numerous members of the Morrisseau family.
Sinclair’s other website targets, including the Plaintiffs in the case against him, were all the leading Canadian galleries selling Morrisseau art. Most operated in the Toronto neighbourhood of the Kinsman Robinson Galleries, and were its main business competitors.
The gallery owners, all highly reputable and principled Canadian business people, all signed, individual sworn affidavits saying that, with his “untrue statements” and “allegations of fraud,” and by maliciously, and publicly, attacking and defaming as fakes, some 200 of their genuine Morrisseau paintings, valued near a million dollars, Sinclair had greatly and materially damaged:
– their overall fine art retail businesses,
– their reputations so they would not attract new customers and were losing old ones,
– their ability to sell genuine Morrisseau paintings of any kind to anybody,
– made them liable to lawsuits from customers, all based on untrue charges and malicious lies.
All these decent and highly reputable people had been involved in selling legitimate Morrisseau paintings for decades. Joe McLeod since 1960, while Sinclair was still dirtying diapers, and Bugera since 1980, a time period in which Ritchie Sinclair had not even heard of Morrisseau or even seen a painting of his.
Sinclair even maliciously attacked these people personally, in secret, as disclosed by Margaret Hatfield in her testimony in a later related case. When asked why she had not used due diligence in discussing her concerns with Joe McLeod, who had signed a Certificate of Appraisal that came with a painting she bought, she blurted out in court the astonishing statement:
“I had found out from Mr. Sinclair that Mr. McLeod was involved in the forgery as well as in their distribution. I certainly did not contact him.” (Court Transcripts: Hatfield v Sherway, May 31, 2011 p 32)
Just three years before – between 2003 and 2005 – all these upright Canadian business people and Morrisseau retailers had been served with SLAPP suit Affidavits of Forgery by other Conspiracy Theorists, namely Gabor Vadas (and supposedly Norval Morrisseau), alleging that hundreds of their paintings, which were identified by number and images, were forged. Allegations the Defendants all vehemently denied.
Independent experts who cross-checked the names and numbers of the hundreds of so-called forgeries with other documentary evidence, showed that the Affidavits of Forgery were ludicrously in error, on many paintings.
Paintings Morrisseau authenticated at one time, he denounced as forgeries the next. Paintings one Conspiracy Enthusiast claimed Norval had denounced, were certified by the artist on paper, the next time. Or the other way around.
A painting that had been published by the artist as a promo in a newspaper was declared a fake, when it appeared in a gallery catalogue. It’s all, actually worse than it sounds.
The listings are damningly confused and totally inconsistent.
Remember, these Affidavits were supposed to be cut and dried, black and white, to separate Truth from Fiction, and to separate, without a mistake, Forgeries from Authentic works, with an accuracy of 100%.
The only thing that was clear in the whole mess, was that the artist, who supposedly signed these Affidavits, at this point in his life, had clearly lost any ability to tell whether paintings were his authentic works or not.
The documentary proof for this conclusion is absolutely huge, and incontrovertible. And opens the question: just how many years before had Norval’s mental deterioration been so evident?
Was this evident mental decline exactly why no audio tape or video tape exists of Norval talking on any topic – and absolutely nothing, on fakes and forgeries – during the last eight or nine years of his life? At a time amateur video had become common, cheap, and easy to use. And during the very period the “Fakes Conspiracy” as first reported by Donald Robinson first raised its head.
In 2004 an entire one-hour CBC documentary was shot on Norval – The Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau. It was first aired on Feb. 24, 2005.
Everyone who had been targeted in Affidavits of Forgery, or media assaults as forgers, and creeps, eagerly waited to hear what Norval would say in public about the huge Conspiracy Theory of thousands of forgeries, by umpteen diabolical forgers. And which Donald Robinson had spouted so loudly every chance he got.
Whom would Norval name? What proof would he give?
Leading Canadian Morrisseau collectors who had just received Affidavits of Forgery signed by Norval, or had been defamed in website attacks, gathered around their TV sets to finally “Hear Norval Speak.”
It would be huge – a landmark in the exposure of the Conspiracy Theory – because it would be the very first time in history, anywhere, anytime, that Norval was ever shown on video or audio-tape, to utter even one world on fakes, frauds and diabolical forgers.
In a stunning shocker, for those who had just received Affidavits of Forgery, allegedly signed by Norval Morrisseau, who supposedly directed the campaign against them, they found Norval said not a single thing about forgers and forgeries, which his white business managers claimed consumed Norval’s every waking moment and was his constant preoccupation in his final years.
Shock piled on shock. In the CBC “Life and Times,” a documentary series based entirely on contemporary subject interviews, Norval Morrisseau DID NOT SAY A WORD ON ANYTHING AT ALL.
The man who supposedly orchestrated and “validated” the entire “forgeries” campaign against the leading Canadian art galleries was the subject of a one hour documentary in which he was shown as totally incapable of talking – make that communicating – on any subject of any kind.
In his own documentary Norval played the role of the “Dumb Indian” – to perfection. Without even being coached…
In fact the producer of the show complained bitterly that “Norval couldn’t talk at all.”
Imagine the Producer/Director’s distress, after hassling CBC for two years to make a documentary of the Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau, to finally meet the artist in person, and discover that the man he was supposed to film (in 2004) while he talked about his life couldn’t utter a word.
So he couldn’t use Norval at all, except as a wheelchair dummy being pushed around here and there, like a sack of potatoes for photo ops by his business associates. But no interview of any kind.
– NOT ONE CLIP, NOT ONE SENTENCE, NOT ONE WORD.
As a filmmaker myself, I recognized instantly, what was every director’s worst nightmare – an interview subject who is tongue-tied – gone into maddening overdrive – a subject who is incapable of uttering a single word…
Not only that, but Norval’s face never ever showed any awareness of, or interaction with his surroundings; he did not exchange a flicker of recognition of any kind with any human being that came close.
It was damning evidence, that clearly, “Norval has left the building.”
So the producer had to let Norval’s white business manager do all the interviews and speak for the “Dumb Indian.”
In the most telling moment – the most communicative editorial comment by the filmmaker – in the entire film, he showed Gabe Vadas, Norval’s white business manager and a leading Conspiracy Theorist, “rubbing his hands with glee,” declaring that everything of Norval’s was all going to be his. “I’m deserved of all of it. Whether people like it or not, it doesn’t matter.”
The filmmaker ended up having to use Norval’s talking footage from decades before, when he was still relatively healthy and mentally had it together.
The film – shot in 2004 – raised a huge question for informed Morrisseau collectors and fans, and especially those just targeted or about to be targeted by SLAPP suits supposedly signed by him: just for how many years before had Norval been this way, unable to utter a single word, or communicate a single idea or thought?
This is absolutely key because – and here’s the kicker for the entire Conspiracy Theory – the only “proof,” of any kind, that there are supposed forgeries – other than the hot air from the white Conspiracy Theorists themselves, endlessly quoting each other – are these eight Norval Morrisseau “deathbed” signatures, on Affidavits of Forgery that he apparently made at a time he was unable to communicate anything even remotely reliable about the authenticity of his paintings.
There is further, absolutely stunning documentary evidence for this, which has not even been published anywhere yet.
To test whether the photocopied Affidavits of Forgery served on Bugera, Child, White, McLeod, and Kim (and allegedly simultaneously also to Randy Potter, an auctioneer, and Gary Lamont another dealer) had any merit, on any level, as reliable sworn documents, a representative sample of a so-called forgery was randomly selected from each affidavit and sent to some of Canada’s top Forensic scientists for analysis, asking, is it fake or is it real.
(Note: No original Affidavits were ever served on anyone, or seen by anyone, except Gabor Vadas, the man who assembled them and sent out photocopies. Said one forensic examiner who saw what was sent out: “These look just like ‘cut and paste’ assemblies.” Leaving the Affidavits doubly impugned as genuine credible legal documents: the signatory was believed to have “left the building,” and they looked extremely suspicious as dupes, when they should have been originals.)
The question everyone wanted to know? Is each painting really a forgery, as the Conspiracy Theorists – which, at this stage, included Norval, because he was still alive – maintain, in eight different sworn legal documents, or are some of these representative test paintings genuine?
The gallery owners were sure of one thing; they stood behind their paintings as authentic, and had no fear of sending them out to three different top Canadian independent professional document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, which they did at various times.
Then the scientific forensic reports started to trickle back:
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Joseph McLeod – On Jan 24, 2002, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Brian Lindblom, had found that three paintings:
– “Spirit Composition 1979” (aka Great Migration 1979),
– “Shaman Underworld 1978,” and
– “Family 1971” (aka Four Warriors 1971),
which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as fakes, on two Affidavits of Forgery signed by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed, with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Jim White – On Jan 24, 2002, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Brian Lindblom, found that the painting “Copper Thunderbird 1977” (aka Warrior Thunderbird), which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as a fake on a Declaration of Forgery authorized by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed, with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Jim White – On Aug 24, 2010, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Dr. Atul K Singla, found that the painting “Wheel of Life 1979,” which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as a fake on an Affidavit of Forgery signed by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Donna Child – On Aug 24, 2010, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Dr. Atul K Singla, found that the painting “Wheel of Life 1979,” which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as a fake, on an Affidavit of Forgery signed by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Sunni Kim – On Apr 1, 2012, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Kenneth J Davies, found that the painting “Shaman With Power Spirits 1977,” which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as a fake on an Affidavit of Forgery signed by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Jackie Bugera – On Apr 1, 2012, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Kenneth J Davies, found that the painting “Grandfather Speaks of Great Ansistral Warrior 1977,” which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as a fake in a Statement of Claim approved by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Donna Child – In December 2012, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Kenneth J Davies, affirmed that the painting “Cycle of Salmon 1974” which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as a fake on an Affidavit of Forgery signed by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Jim White – In December 2012, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Kenneth J Davies, affirmed that the painting “Cycle of Salmon 1974” which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as a fake on an Affidavit of Forgery signed by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Randy Potter – In December 2012, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Kenneth J Davies, affirmed that the painting “Signed #2 1978” which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as a fake on an Affidavit of Forgery signed by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have.
Probably the most damning scientific evaluation came back from 14 signatures on 7 paintings, seven on the front in pencil, and seven in black paint on the back, which belonged to a longtime friend and business associate of Norval’s, Gary Lamont.
These seven paintings were listed among 48 alleged forgeries on Lamont’s Affidavit of Forgery. It was dated Nov. 30, 2004, but never, ever – you won’t believe this – served on Lamont. Even when there was ample opportunity, during the numerous visits he made to visit his old friend Norval in Nanaimo after that date. Probably Norval put his foot down when his white advisors pushed him; Norval refused to attack an old friend, even for business reasons.
The year after Norval died, Lamont was astonished to learn of the existence of the Affidavit, which someone had sent anonymously to Dr. Jonathan Browne. He told someone else who passed the information on to an incredulous Gary Lamont.
Not just one, but seven paintings from the Lamont Affidavit of Forgery were sent to a forensic scientist for evaluation.
Scientific Forensic Authentication for Gary Lamont – On July 29, 2011, one of Canada’s top forensic document examiners and handwriting analysis experts, Kenneth J Davies, found that the 7 paintings on paper, each featuring double signatures, in pencil on the front, and black paint on the back, which had been publicly defamed by the Conspiracy Theorists as fakes, on an Affidavit of Forgery signed by Norval Morrisseau, in fact, had been authentically signed with DNA certainty, by Norval Morrisseau, and that no one else could have made any of these 14 signatures.
This is a truly astonishing forensic document. One authenticated signature has sent men to the gallows…
Each one, of 14, could have been declared a forgery. None were…
14 individual calls, resulted in each and every one being declared an authentic signature…
It’s more damning proof than that. The black paint signatures on the back have been cross referenced with other black paint signatures which Norval made on the back of his 1970s BDPs.
And, they’re a match…
Regardless of Donald Robinson’s wild ravings… “Forgeries, forgeries… all damn forgeries, I say.”
Stunningly, every random sample from an affidavit, analyzed by a forensic expert, came back as authentic, proving that these art retailers were not crooks, or cheats, or knowingly selling fakes, as the Conspiracy Theorists trumpeted to the media while wildly waving their Morrisseau – remember him; he’s CT (Conspiracy Theorist) Proxy #1 – signed Affidavits of Forgery.
If random chosen samples came back as authentic – all of them with an accuracy of 100% – how many of the other paintings on the Affidavits, from which they were selected, are also authentic…? When every single one that was picked, turned out to be so…
The targets of all the Affidavits say that’s easy – and the science is on their side – all of them are authentic…
Evaluating forensic samples from each one of those Affidavits, the scientists proved, with DNA certainty, that no fewer than 16 painting and 23 signatures which the Conspiracy Theorists had defamed as forgeries, were authentic. And not a single one came back with a negative finding of any kind. That’s an authentication certainty of 100%,
One mistaken signature, by itself, would have been a catastrophe. Think of a person who has paid $25,000 to $50,000 for a single forgery because of a single faked signature…
When eight affidavits contain 16 individual absolutely false calls on paintings, and 23 individual absolutely false calls on signatures, it is obviously beyond catastrophic, what is going on behind the scenes here, among the Conspiracy Theorists…
Though there are literally scores of OTHER documentary proofs that further, totally undermine any possible credibility remaining in any of the Morrisseau Affidavits of Forgery, the Forensic findings, alone and above all, show how utterly unbelievable and unreliable are even the supposedly foolproof legal documents allegedly sworn before a Commissioner of Oaths
(Remember, no one ever received an original Affidavit of Forgery from Norval Morrisseau; only Gabe Vadas has ever seen the originals, and knows what they look like.)
Contrary to, and in violation of every courtroom protocol, neither the court nor the served people. ever got original Affidavits; they all just got lousy, low resolution photocopies.
The notary who signed the Affidavits said he saw Norval signing but had no recollection of the nature or number of attachments involved.
A forensic expert who saw the Affidavit copies – remember no one has ever seen an original – said it looked like a “cut and paste” assembly to him, suggesting the originals showed clear signs of tampering or manipulation.
Norval signed something. What exactly he signed is unknown – probably was also to him – because there is no way to ascertain what was added later to the files.
It is impossible to verify whether Norval had any idea of what he was asked to sign. A startling insight into his total lack of mental involvement in signing anything is preserved in the Ryan Leblanc video from early 2002, a full year before Norval was asked to sign Affidavits of Forgery, and three years before he signed his last…
The videos show the tragic decline in the mental and physical abilities of a human being who was once a creative genius. Now a life of overindulgent self-abuse has reduced him to a barely function shell of who he once was.
He is not engaged anymore. He will sign literally anything when someone shoves a pencil in his hand and props up a document in front of him.
In fact Ritchie Sinclair has published the Affidavits of Forgery pretending what he put up are these supposed “original documents.” In fact they are not; he has hugely tampered with them in Photoshop making scores of pictorial falsifications and completely altering the documents from what were originally sent out to the Defendants.
To a historian, his supposed postings are totally invalid. They are actually fraudulent as historical documents.
But they do prove one thing in spades: that falsifying documents seems to be a consuming passion with Conspiracy Theorists purely to help tart up a case they can’t support without doing that.
The documents may have been signed by Norval, but in examining, and cross-referencing the content, between affidavits, and gallery catalogues they refer to, it becomes crystal clear, that they are nothing, if not utterly fraudulent as believable historic documents.
Jack Pollock, the first and most successful Morrisseau dealer, who died years ago, and had seen it all, would have said, yep, that’s “what the art world is like: scheming, manipulative, and, quite often, downright fraudulent.”
(From Dear M – Pollock’s personal memoir of life in the Canadian art business)
Jack is the guy who wrote, back in 1962, when he offered Norval a legal document to show good faith, Norval slapped it away with utter contempt saying, “White man’s paper no fucking good.”
Hmmmh… maybe Norval had something there… And late in life, observing the scene around him, saw no reason to change his opionion.
Even one mistake, in authentication, exposed by a forensic scientist, is considered damning beyond belief. Especially, when you are facing having it tested before an independent judge in a Canadian court.
Remember, Vadas and Morrisseau settled for $11,000 with Otavnik after seeing only one (1) forensic report that overturned an allegation of forgery; CTVglobemedia settled for, at least, $25,000 with Moniz (my estimate with court costs included) after seeing only one (1) forensic report overturn a charge of forgery.
When different forensic scientists have turned up so many individual false authentications, from a very small sample group, and certify that, far from being diabolical forgeries – as the sworn signatures by the artist makes them out to be – that they are real, with DNA certainty… to accept the Affidavits as anything more than vile fish wrap, is preposterous beyond belief.
There is clearly something else going on, behind the scenes…
As a historian, I believe the Morrisseau Affidavits of Forgery, issued between 2003-2005, bearing Norval Morrisseau’s signature, are the most utterly fraudulent, and most compromised, documents I have ever encountered in 46 years as a professional historian.
Foiled by Forensics Part 3 – This was the third damning interim rebuff in a legal proceeding, as to the reliability of the Conspiracy Theorists, as credible evaluators of what are authentic Morrisseaus and forgeries. 12 separate forensic reports by three of Canada’s top handwriting analysis experts say the Affidavits of Forgery, even if signed by Morrisseau, make many clearly fraudulent claims about numerous genuine Morrisseau paintings.
And these are only selected samples from the Affidavits.
Note: This lawsuit is still not completed. Most of the dealers pulled out because they were too busy trying to run their businesses to continue the endless dance through the courts. One person has kept the suit alive and is continuing to pursue it against Ritchie Sinclair.