Forensic Art Expert Sues ‘New Yorker’ Author

Wants $2 million for defamation over David Grann piece

Forensic art expert Peter Paul Biro brought a $2 million defamation suit Wednesday against The New Yorker staff writer David Grann and Advance Magazine Publishers (owners of Condé Nast, which publishes The New Yorker), claiming that Biro’s reputation and career had been damaged by Grann’s article about him in a July 2010 issue of the magazine.

“Through selective omission, innuendo, and malicious sarcasm, the article paints a portrait of a plaintiff which has no basis in reality, and which has been highly damaging to his reputation,” Biro claims in the suit.

Asked for comment, New Yorker editor David Remnick told Adweek, "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."

Biro, who is based in Montreal, also took issue with the article's subtitle, which, the lawsuit claimed, “implies that plaintiff finds fingerprints where they do not exist, and which represents an editorial attempt to prejudice the reader in advance of the narrative which follows.”

Biro sued Grann and Advance for a minimum of $2 million. He also sued Dan Rattiner the same amount for his follow-up article in Dan’s Papers, a weekly newspaper based in the Hamptons, Long Island, N.Y.

Throughout the 16,000-word article, Grann casts an increasingly skeptical light on Biro’s reputation as a an art expert, noticing “small, and then more glaring, imperfections in this picture," including a history of  court cases.

In the lawsuit, Biro counters by pointing out the many instances in which he believes Grann’s writing to be “false and defamatory.” He also claims that a D.C. circuit court once found that Grann had written and published material “reasonably capable of defamatory meaning,” but does not mention that the charge was largely theoretical and that the case was ultimately dismissed.

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