Alec Baldwin Claims He Was Duped Into Buying the Wrong Painting for $190,000

He paid $190,000 for a new painting resembling the one he wanted.

Alec Baldwin attending "One Night 100 Years" Honoring Arthur Miller's 100th Birthday, on January 25, 2016. Courtesy ©Patrick McMullan, Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/PMC

Actor Alec Baldwin claims that art dealer Mary Boone sold him a copy of a painting by Ross Bleckner that he has been obsessing over for years, and passed it off as the original.

Baldwin fell in love with the painting Sea and Mirror, (1996), after seeing it about 10 years ago on an invite to a show by Bleckner—with whom the actor became friendly—at Mary Boone’s gallery, according to a story published in the New York Times. Finally, in 2010, he asked Boone to inquire with the collector who owned the work about reselling it.

Ross Bleckner, <i>Sea and Mirror </i>(1996). Courtesy Artnet

Ross Bleckner, Sea and Mirror (1996). Courtesy Artnet

The painting had sold at auction at Sotheby’s in 2007 for $121,000 to an unnamed collector. According to the NYT article, Boone got back to Baldwin with word that the collector had agreed to sell, at a premium, and including a fee for the gallery, the new price of the work would be $190,000.

However, Baldwin, who was thrilled to own the work at first, grew suspicious as he started noticing the painting in his possession looked different than the one he had remembered, and even smelled new. A Sotheby’s expert who compared his painting to a catalog image from the 2007 auction then confirmed his suspicion that this was not the same painting.

As the collector never agreed to part with the original, Baldwin was sold a version that was completed in 2010, but dated 1996. And here is where the two parties disagreed at first: “By the time Alec Baldwin paid for the painting and it was delivered to him, he should not have misunderstood what he purchased,” Ms. Boone’s lawyer, Ted Poretz, said in a statement to the NYT. “[Baldwin]’s wrong that the painting is a copy; it’s an original and very fine work of art by Ross Bleckner,” Poretz added.

Mary Boone and Ross Bleckner circa 1991.Image: Courtesy of Mary Boone

Mary Boone and Ross Bleckner circa 1991. Image: Courtesy of Mary Boone

But Baldwin denies ever being told that he would be receiving a different work. What’s more, the canvas he was sold had been stamped with the same number that the original painting, created at the height of the artist’s career, is listed with in the Sotheby’s catalog. After being told by the Manhattan district attorney’s office that a criminal case could not be made, Baldwin demanded Boone to deliver the painting he had paid for.

But, as writer Marion Maneker points out in the Art Market Monitor, the NYT story fails to mention why Baldwin didn’t bid on the painting or win it at auction back in 2007. Moreover, Maneker asks how did the dealer and artist think the switch would go unnoticed, and, in turn, what took Baldwin so long to note the differences.

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