Kapos: Judge says painting isn’t a Doig and no one’s happy

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Internationally heralded artist Peter Doig did not paint this landscape, which had been valued at more than $10 million, a federal judge in Chicago said Tuesday. | Bartlow Gallery Ltd. via AP

The artist of a landscape painting at the center of federal trial in Chicago was not famed Peter Doig, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feinerman ruled Tuesday.

The case grew international attention as it asked the question: if an artist says he or she didn’t paint the artwork, does that mean they should be believed?

In this case, Feinerman says, yes. But that wasn’t enough for Doig, who still criticized the fact that he was taken to court for not being believed.

“I have rarely seen such a flagrant example of unethical conduct in the U.S. courts nor a case that inflicted such needless burdens on a defendant. Artists should be grateful to Peter for having the ethical and financial fortitude to fight tirelessly to ensure that justice prevailed in today’s verdict,” Matthew Dontzin, Doig’s attorney, said in a statement released after the ruling.

Neither the lawyer nor Doig were in the courtroom but were on a muted speakerphone.

The painting had been valued at more than $10 million when it was believed to be the work of Doig.

Feinerman’s ruling went into great detail as he explained why he believed Doig did not paint the work in question.

His decision also drew the ire of retired Ontario corrections officer Robert Fletcher, who says he still believes it was Doig who gave him the painting some 40 years ago, not the late Pete Doige, who was an inmate at the facility where Fletcher worked.

The Chicago art dealer who Fletcher hired to sell the painting also spouted off after Tuesday’s ruling. “No one should be allowed to lie,” Peter Bartlow, of Chicago-based Bartlow Gallery Ltd., said, referring to Doig.

In his ruling from the bench, Feinerman went through evidence that showed Doig was a high school teen at the time the artwork was painted at a Canadian correctional facility. And he also attributed his ruling to evidence showing the late Doige was incarcerated at the time the painting was produced.

The case has been in the courts since 2013, and many in the art world have been surprised to see it go this far. The judge says there were enough facts on each side to allow he case to go to trial.

Doig testified and so did his mother, Mary. His defense team presented yearbook pictures of a shaggy-haired Doig as a high school student in the 1970s. But it was letters written by Doig’s mom that were especially persuasive, the judge said. The letters talked about her son’s activities during the time period in question.

“Those letters are unimpeachable. They are unvarnished reportage,” the judge said, adding Doig’s mom had no motive to lie at the time the letters were sent.

The artist’s mom also “testified credibly” about the whereabouts of her son during the years when the disputed artwork was painted, even talking about how she remembered “staying awake at night” until her son returned from his food-service job.

Peter Doig could not have been the author of the work, the judge said, who also detailed the time period Doige served time in the correctional facility.

“It’s exceptionally strong evidence that the artwork was by (the now deceased) Peter Edward Doige,” the judge said.

You could say this venture capitalist plays games

When job candidates and potential investors meet venture capitalistVictor Gutwein,they might find themselves playingSettlers of Catan,a board game in which players settle on the fictitious island of Catan and trade scarce resources.

“There’s a lot of skill and strategy,” says Gutwein, founder and managing director of M25 Group.“This isn’t Monopoly,” he says, where a chance landing on Park Place helps you win the game.

Victor Gutwein of M25 Group. | Shia Kapos/Sun-Times

Victor Gutwein of M25 Group. | Shia Kapos/Sun-Times

Gutwein thrives on thestrategy required to win at Settlers of Catan and any of the otherEuropean board games he collects. Heplays with family, friends and colleagues. And thoughgetting a job at his small companyisn’t contingent on winning, “You shouldn’t be too bad,” he says. “You have to make smart moves.”

Mike Asemplayed Settlers with Gutwein before he was hired as director of M25.

“He’s always seeing several moves ahead and what moves others will make. He consistently makes themost optimal move almost every time,” says Asem, before joining Gutwein and a group of friends for one of their now regular games.

Gutwein’s M25 invests in early-stage start-upswith a high potential to scale. The company avoids funding vice and sin-tax businesses, ones that promote drinking, smoking or gambling. “We don’t want to invest in companies that are destructive to people,” he says.

Start-ups backed by M25 Group: Eastman Egg Co. restaurant, Luna Lights (helps prevent elderly from falling) and Page Vault web archiving. They’re among 20 businesses that got a boost from M25’s first funding from friends and family. M25 has just raised another $10 million to invest in 60 to 70 more start-ups.

Ray Stachowiak,founderof Shared Imaging diagnostic health care company and an investor in M25, says he likes how Gutwein, 24, approaches business.“He’s very disciplined. That’s unusual for someone his age.”

Gutwein grew up in Indiana, where he started a vending machine business while in middle school and ran it in high school too. At University of Chicago, where he earned an economics degree, Gutweincrafteda business that encouraged using scooters to get to classes.

Hewas involved in debate, rugby, water polo, the business club and the school’s student-run venture fund.

He later joined Hyde Park Angels, the Midwest’s most active venture capital group, and had jobstints at Claire’s Accessories, the jewelry store chain, and Walgreensbefore startingM25 last year. The company’s name comes from Matthew:25 inthe Bible. That’sthe parable of the master who rewards servants who were given bags of gold and then put that gold to work in the marketplace, doubling their money.

Gutwein met his wife,Rebecca,while they served as mentors in U. of C.’s Christian Fellowship Group, which met at Living Hope Church on the South Side. He mentored a boy and she worked with the boy’s sister.

They’ve remained active in the church since getting married two years ago.

The Gutweinslive in Bronzeville and juggle work with interests away from the office. Gutwein is an active endurance athlete — he likes swimming, running, backpacking and marathons. He’s training for his third Chicago marathon.

He also remains passionate about board games and is trying to create his own.

“I’m obsessed,” he says. “I play with all my friends. I’m trying to design my own, but it takes time to figure out the mechanics of it.”

Read more from Shia Kapos at shiakapos.com.

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