Forensic Art Expert Peter Paul Biro Sues Over New Yorker Profile

Even with having finally hooked up the user account thingie so we could download issues on our iPad after our wife recycles the print edition, this writer is still hopelessly behind in his reading of the New Yorker. However, we’ve recently learned that a) we’re not so far behind as to make it absurd and b) if there was a feature profile about us in an issue, we’d likely make the time to read it right away. This doesn’t seem to be the case with forensic art expert Peter Paul Biro, who has filed a $2 million suit against Conde Nast‘s owners and writer David Grann, claiming defamation after a profile appeared about him in the New Yorker in July of last year. Okay, okay, lawsuits must take a while to put together, so maybe that’s why it’s taken a full year to file, but let’s move on, shall we? Adweek reports that Biro’s suit claims that Grann’s piece “paints a portrait of a plaintiff which has no basis in reality, and which has been highly damaging to his reputation.” Fair enough, as we read the piece way back when and it certainly puts both Biro’s past and his methods into sharp question. However, ArtInfo chimes in that Biro “might be in for an uphill battle” considering that several of the sources used in Grann’s article to help paint him in such a fashion were anonymous, and worse for him still, no longer living. So getting proof that he was defamed will perhaps mean finding ways around journalistic privilege and the great beyond. To read up on the whole matter and make up your own mind, you can read some great highlights from the Courthouse News Service about the filing. Here’s but a slight portion of the claims:

Biro adds: “Defendant Grann obtained plaintiff’s consent to a series of interviews, by misleading him about defendant Grann’s true intentions in writing the article, and he distorted the substance of those interviews to serve a predetermind agenda.”

Biro claims that Grann’s article “ignores the many highly celebrated and iconic masterpieces of art which plaintiff has been privileged to work with, including Edvard Münch’s ‘Scream’, works by Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet’s ‘Impression, soleil levant‘, and many works by J.M.W. Turner.

And here’s the official word from the New Yorker‘s David Remnick:

“David Grann’s reporting on this story and everything else he does is painstaking in both its attention to the facts and tone. We stand with David Grann and behind the story and believe the suit has no merit.”