Determining the provenance of any disputed work of art is traditionally the purview of experts who can detect subtle signature brush strokes that become an artist's tell. However, forensic analysis is increasingly being used to authenticate paintings that might or might not be forgeries. Now, according to The New York Times, the old guard is clashing with the new over a single controversial painting attributed to Jackson Pollock, and the eventual outcome could mean the difference between the painting fetching either thousands or millions of dollars.
The work, titled Red, Black, and Silver was painted in the summer of 1956, and has come to represent the 60-year feud between Lee Krasner, Pollock's wife, and Ruth Kligman, his lover. Kligman spent her life asserting that Pollock painted the piece for her that bygone summer, while Krasner spent the remainder of hers denying it. In Kligman's corner, however, is the detailed forensic evidence from former NYPD detective and forensics specialist Nicholas D. K. Petraco. Petraco was able to pull hair, thread, and even polar bear hair from Pollock's Long Island home, building a strong case for authentication. However, Francis V. O'Connor, a co-editor of the definitive Pollock catalog, still asserts that the painting resembles nothing in Pollock's repertoire. Rest assured the feud is far from over.