Art Authenticator Peter Paul Biro Loses Appeal in New Yorker Defamation Suit

The judge affirms an absence of malice decision.

eter Paul Biro.
Photo by Kim Doucet.

In a closely-watched defamation case, art authenticator Peter Paul Biro has lost his appeal of a case he brought against writer David Grann and New Yorker publisher Condé Nast concerning a 2010 article that raised questions about Biro’s methodology.

The US Court of Appeals for the second circuit handed down a decision yesterday by Judge Raymond Lohier. A copy of the ruling was obtained by artnet News, stating that it affirms the earlier decision “dismissing Peter Paul Biro’s complaint on the ground that he failed to plead sufficient facts to give rise to a plausible inference of actual malice.”

Biro had also named as defendants several publications that picked up on an publicized the original New Yorker story including Louise Blouin Media (Artinfo.com), Gawker Media, and Paddy Johnson, publisher of the well-known art blog Art F City.

The decision noted that the original article “raised questions about the trustworthiness of Biro’s methods and his authentication of paintings.” It continued, “Among other things, the Article contained interviews of various individuals critical of Biro, and it suggested that Biro stood to profit from some of his dubious authentications. To say the least, we agree with the District Court’s observation that ‘there is little question that a reader may walk away from the Article with a negative impression of Biro.'”

The ruling concludes: “Biro does not plausibly allege that the defendants acted with actual malice.”

The judge also dismissed claims against all of the aforementioned publishers, noting that Biro’s allegations against these “republishers” are “conclusory.”

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