I was bothered by the anti-intellectual attitude displayed by Teri Horton and others in the film. What is this pathetic snobbery you find in ignorant people who feel their opinions should be considered simply because they admittedly know nothing about the topic they are talking about?
Teri shows great smugness by her distaste towards the "Pollock" painting she buys at the thrift shop saying, "Painting should look like something!" I bet this makes her feel all-superior to those of us who like Jackson Pollock because, obviously she knows what "painting" is supposed to look like and we don't.
Teri's claim that she was dismissed by snobbish art world types because she is a drunken, foul-mouthed, truck driver is specious. I would never say that no one in the art world was ever rude to her, but consider this, if her "Pollock" is genuine and worth more than $100 million, why wouldn't gallery owners and art dealers talk to her?
If the painting were genuine, the gallery that represents it would get a 15% - 20% commission on the sale. The good publicity the sale would generate would be a boon to any art dealer and that would lead to even more sales for the gallery. It makes no sense that they never even bothered to return her calls.
Unless you consider this, Teri says that the first art dealers she spoke to asked about the "provenance" of the "Pollock" and she didn't know what a provenance was. Much filmic hilarity ensues from the cockamamie "provenance" Teri fabricates. It goes like this, the painting came into being during a drunken night of painting that included James Cagney, Joan Crawford, John Wayne, a naked Broderick Crawford and ended with Jackson Pollock signing the painting with his penis.
Pretend you're a gallery owner; you get a call from a woman who, while slurring her words, says she has a Jackson Pollock for sale. You ask where she got it and then she lets loose this story of alcoholic Hollywood revelry so clearly improbable it beggars the imagination. Would you call her back?
Another problem is the involvement of Tod Volpe, the convicted thief, embezzler and fraud who is retained by Teri to represent her questionable "Pollock". Isn't that like starting a new business and then hiring Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, Andy Fastow and the other Enron thieves to run it? Then you explain your hires to investors by reasoning since business is corrupt, and these guys are corrupt, they are the perfect management team! Isn't this lunacy?
At one point, Volpe (the convicted fraud) says it is the art world's job to prove that Teri's painting is NOT a real Pollock. What? Is he an idiot as well as a liar and thief? Hey Volpe, you are asking millions for this painting, you have to prove it IS a Pollock. The burden of proof is on the people making the claim.
The biggest piece of evidence for the paintings authenticity is the discovery of a partial fingerprint on the back of Teri's "Pollock". The film claims there are no known Jackson Pollock fingerprints in existence, so the self-proclaimed "forensics expert" Paul Biro goes to the Pollock/Krasner Institute and lifts a Pollock fingerprint off a paint can from his studio that he will try to match with the fingerprint found on Teri's painting.
First question, if there are no known Pollock fingerprints in existence, how does Biro know that the one he got from the paint can is really Jackson Pollock's? Second question, since Pollock was arrested for being drunk and disorderly a few times, are the filmmakers really sure there are no fingerprints of his in existence?
I had questions about fingerprints and the law, so I spoke with a public defender here in Philadelphia about fingerprint evidence.
Teri says "if you can send someone to the electric chair by fingerprint evidence, why can't you authenticate a painting?" Well, in fact, you CAN'T send someone to the electric chair based solely on fingerprint evidence.
Paul Biro finds three matching points on the partial print found on Teri's "Pollock" and the alleged Pollock fingerprint from the paint can. Is that enough? Is there a legal standard here? The answer surprisingly is NO! There is no set legal number of points that have to match for a fingerprint to be considered proof of identity, but according to my legal expert, three points would never be considered anywhere near enough.
All in all, the fingerprint evidence in the film does not meet even the most minimal legal standards and that is the only solid evidence they have.
But the clincher for me was when I discovered the existence of a painter named Francis Hogan Brown, who was well known for painting copies of Jackson Pollock's work that were virtually identical to Pollock. Brown says that he distributed lots of these knock-offs in the Southern California area on or around the time Teri Horton claims to have purchased her "Pollock".
In fact, Brown says the painting in the film (which he has seen in photographs) looks just like one of his. He says that for several years now, he has repeatedly asked to see Teri Horton's "Pollock" up close, but that Tod Volpe and Teri Horton have refused to let him anywhere near it. Why is that? If Francis Hogan Brown can prove that the disputed "Pollock" Teri has is one of his own paintings, doesn't that settle this case?
One final thing, the film goes to great lengths to show that the former museum director Thomas Hoving is an arrogant, know-it-all, jerk. So what? You don't have to look very hard in the art world to find a pompous ass. I am willing to bet that it would also not be difficult to find a truck driver who is also a pompous jerk. But what does that prove? Absolutely nothing.