Scottish artist Peter Doig is in court disputing that a painting bearing his name isn't his work at all. Peter Doig is an acclaimed contemporary painter who frequently depicts landscapes that incorporate imaginative abstract elements; his works currently sell at auction for millions of dollars.
This is a highly unusual case. Deceased artists often have foundations with authentication boards (typically composed of various art experts) who make final determinations as to whether a work is in fact authentic. Authentication boards rely upon analyses of artists' techniques and processes, comparison of oft-used themes and subject matter, and sophisticated scientific texts. If an authentication board determination is questioned, then the painting's owner and the authentication board may go to trial where a judge and jury weigh further evidence to determine the artwork's authenticity.
But what happens when the artist is still living? Common sense would suggest that the living artist would in fact be the best and final authority to determine a work's authenticity. Why would an artist not claim ownership over a particular work? While the owner of the landscape bearing Doig's name certainly has an incentive to prove that it is in fact a Doig painting, the lawsuit itself may have a lasting impact of putting the decision of whether a living artist work is authentic into the hands of judges and juries.
Read more about the story in the Guardian's recent article.