New York Art Dealer Accused of Selling Phony Winston Churchill Photo

Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill.

Michael Smerconish, a Sirius XM host and bestselling author, has accused New York art dealer Walter Graham Arader III of selling him a fake autographed photo of Winston Churchill, according to Courthouse News.

He’s suing for fraud, intentional misrepresentation, breach of contract, and breach of warranty, and is seeking $150,000.

Smerconish patronized Arader’s gallery, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, while he was working as an attorney in Philadelphia, according to the complaint, and frequently bought antique maps, prints and watercolors. He forked over $5,000 in 2000 for the supposed autographed photo by portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh. The Armenian-born photographer is perhaps best known for his 1941 portrait of Churchill, although he also took striking photos of Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, and Marc Chagall, among others.

What was sold to Smerconish as a photograph of the WWII-era British Prime Minister turned out to be reproduced from a book, an expert told him.

Yousf Karsh's 1941 portrait of Winston Churchill.

Yousf Karsh’s 1941 portrait of Winston Churchill.
Photo: Courtesy artnet.

 

It’s not the first time Arader has gotten into trouble. Then-reporter Lindsay Pollock wrote in the New York Sun that he verbally threatened and shoved fellow-dealer Gavin Spanierman at a Sotheby’s auction in 2003.

Arader was also charged with misdemeanor assault in 2008 for attacking his neighbor William Carroll, a former oil trader. Arader was supposedly converting his Upper East Side condo into an art gallery, according to the New York Post. “He charges me and I flew 8-10 feet,” Carroll told the Post.

Arader’s website indicates that he’s been in business for 36 years, selling antique works on paper, paintings and rare books. Paintings by noted American artists such as Karl Bodmer, Jan-Baptist Bosshchaert, Franz Kline, and Edward Henry Potthast are listed for sale, along with furniture, antique maps and other merchandise.

Smirconish is represented by Philadelphia firm Kline & Specter. Arader did not immediately return artnet News’s phone call or email. Smerconish declined to comment.


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