Saturday, May 12, 2012
In late April and Early May Corice Arman began a media blitz tour to plead her case to the media that Art and Auction photographers had broken an African Nok terracotta sculpture worth $300,000 during a photo shoot. I will admit from the beginning that I don't know who broke the sculpture or in fact if the sculpture is even authentic. I have never examined the figure nor reviewed any of the documentation. But that's the point isn't it. CBS news , New York Post, GalleristNY, Daily Mail Online (UK), msn.com, nydailynews.com, mobilebloomberg.com, chicagotribune.com, downtownexpress.com, uk.reuetrs.com, and I am sure other media outlets all reported the allegations as if they were facts. "Photocrew smashes ancient art, owner sues for $300,000." was the lead from Reuters online in the UK. Unfortunately, this was typical as most of these media outlets certainly left their readers with the impression that 1. Art and Auction photographers broke the terracotta figure 2. The figure was worth $300,000 3. The figure was a very important and very unique object. Now to be fair to the media, the the flashy statement is the lead with the qualifier at the very end. " Corice alleges", "the collector states", "the collector claims" are typical disclaimers. Obviously the disaster is far sexier than the disclaimer.. But is it really?
Again I have no idea what happened. But what if the photographers didn't break it? Or what if the African masterpiece is a fake? That could make a pretty interesting story in itself. And what about the obvious questions that were completely missed. The shoot was on May 12, 2011, a year ago. Where are the fragments? Did they stay in Arman's apartment? Have the fragments been tested? If so are we sure the fragments are the fragments from the broken sculpture? What is the chain of custody from the time of the breakage until the filing of the law suit? Corice Arman said her insurance company had rejected her claim. Was the sculpture scheduled and covered for breakage in the home? Why didn't someone ask this? I can only guess why presumably intelligent reporters missed so much in such a short time. The story is infinitely more interesting when the reader can consider all the possibilities.
Certainly a mantra for this newsletter and blog is to not be intimidated by anyone and to at least ask yourself the logical questions before you make your art related decisions.