The inclusion of Peter Barham as one of the presenters of the Psaier show/sale at the 5 Blenheim Crescent Gallery (see previous page) is of interest because he was the person who paid the highest price for a Psaier at Nicholson's most publicised auction of Psaier's works in September 2008. An article in the Daily Mail noted that "Dealer Peter Barham... paid the top price of £10,000 for a painting of Marilyn Monroe..." (Bill Mouland, "Paintings by Andy Warhol acolyte some believe never even existed are auctioned for £123,000," Daily Mail, 24 September 2008)
Why would a dealer who had previously put on a show of Psaier paintings with John Nicholson bid the highest price in an auction of the same paintings he had presumably presented with Nicholson at a previous sale? Nicholson claimed to have received the paintings from Pietro Psaier's "estate" in a 2006 sale that was listed on Google as "The Estate of Pietro Psaier - 28th September 2006." Presumably Psaier's estate was the same in 2006 as in 2008. But if Nicholson had hosted an auction of Psaier's estate in 2006, how could the March 2008 sale announced in Art in London be the "first and last" show of Psaier's work?
In the Daily Mail article, Nicholson claimed to have sold or offered for sale more than 400 paintings by Psaier in just one year - 200 in a Psaier auction in April 2008 and a further 235 offered for sale in September 2008. The September sale fetched £123,000. Although this would be peanuts for a dealer selling authentic Warhols, it's not a bad taking for an antiques dealer selling paintings by an artist whose very existence had been called into doubt prior to the auction taking place. (Wikipedia had removed Psaier's biography after nobody could come up with evidence that he actually did exist.)
(Bill Mouland, "Paintings by Andy Warhol acolyte some believe never even existed are auctioned for £123,000," Daily Mail, 24 September 2008)
According to Nicholson in the Daily Mail article the proceeds from the auction went to Psaier's family. The only family member that has been produced so far is "Peter" Psaier in the Los Angeles area - a close friend of Nadia Fairchild and one of the founders of "Factory Additions" in the U.S. "Pietro" Psaier apparently had no other family. There should be documentation relating to the payment and it would be interesting to know who it was made to. Did Nicholson get the paintings from Peter? According to a statement by Peter on Jacqueline Chapman's website he (Peter) had "very little contact" with his father "over the years." But if he had very little contact with his father how did he end up with hundreds of his paintings? If his father "Pietro" was in possession of the paintings when he was killed by the tsunami, how could they have survived when Pietro did not? And why were the alleged collaborations with Warhol offered for sale only after Warhol's death?
If you were an antiques dealer and were presented with hundreds of paintings by an unknown artist alleged to have collaborated with Andy Warhol, would you be suspicious? A small amount of research would have revealed that Psaier is not mentioned in any literature about Warhol. The paintings were accompanied by certificates of authenticity by Factory Additions. Is it normal for an antiques dealer to start up a company with the same name as certificates that accompanied paintings from somebody's estate? Didn't the fact that Wikipedia removed Psaier's biography and representatives of the Andy Warhol Foundation and The Warhol museum denied ever having heard of Psaier, ring warning bells? All of this happened before Nicholson's September 2008 sale of Psaier paintings, yet Nicholson went ahead with that sale. If he is so convinced that Psaier is a legitimate artist, why is he no longer selling his paintings from his auction house? Instead, he refers potential buyers to Jacqueline Chapman's site, pietropsaierartist.com, from his site here. And he still hosts on his site a biography of Pietro Psaier which claims that Psaier and Warhol collaborated on "joint works" of art: here. Yet, he has removed a website that he started on Psaier here. Why?
Nicholson has been selling Psaiers for quite some time. A blogger named "Tuscan Tony" recalls purchasing a Psaier from Nicholson in the late 1990s. "Pietro" Psaier would have still been alive at that time, yet Nicholson has never claimed to have had contact with him. From whom did Nicholson get the Psaier painting he sold in the late 1990s if not from "Pietro?" The Fairchilds? If he has had contact with the Fairchilds it would be helpful to know how long they have been in contact.
As mentioned previously, both John Fairchild and his daughter Nadia have been convicted of crimes relating to forgery in the past. I included an article about Nadia's appearance in court in a previous update. Below is a 1991 article about how her father kidnapped and then abandoned an American coin dealer during one of his crimes:
Over the years Fairchild has managed to accumulate quite a lot of wealth. Here is a home he owned in Malibu during the 1980s:
John Fairchild's previous home in Malibu
The property was mentioned in the following article in the Los Angeles Times.
The "windmill" property was the one owned by John Fairchild. He is referred to later in the article as "Sir" John Fairchild:
Needless to say, the reason the reporters were "unable to verify his claim to knighthood" was because he had no claim to a knighthood.
In addition to having owned a mansion in Malibu, Fairchild also lived in Spain and has a home in London. One Psaier collector recalled visiting Fairchild in his London home:
"It was about 2 years ago. I didn't know who he [John Fairchild] was. He said he had the sole rights to distribute Psaiers in Europe. He had at least 100 Psaiers in his house. Actually he lives in a flat... which is [in] an exclusive complex, gated with security. The flats there are very expensive. His flat was very nice, no coins or belt buckles but plenty of Psaiers, on the walls, piled up against the walls and behind sofas. I was with a couple of friends of mine, one of which bought a Psaier, as did I. There was no one else at the house when I went and he told me that he had property in Spain and spends most of his time there. He also bought the flat next to his and was refurbishing it for rental. He even gave us a tour. He was very polite. I didn't realise who he was till i saw the photo in the Times paper. After the article he disappeared. I have never seen him since then. But I know he is still around as now and than he puts the odd Psaier into auctions." (1 November 2010)
Fairchild was also known to have lived in Spain. Here is a photograph I have received of the Fairchilds in Marbella during the 1970s:
L to R: Nadia Fairchild's mother, Nadia as a child and a young John Fairchild in Marbella during the 1970s
When the Antiques Trade Gazette (the main trade journal for the antiques industry in the U.K) attempted to defend the claims made by John Nicholson and Jacqueline Chapman one of the main pieces of evidence cited by ATG writer Ivan Macquisten was the following:
"A photo album of the artist at work – probably in the 1980s – with the name Pietro Psaier clearly visible in the background as a 3-D logo mounted on the wall. The album also contains photos dating back to the early 1990s of banners being erected around Marbella, including on a bridge, publicising a Psaier exhibition." (See here)
Mr. Macquisten reported in another issue of the Antiques Trade Gazette (15 September 2008) that he had been shown photographs of a Psaier exhibition in Marbella in 1993, but the above photo is the first pictorial proof that we have of Fairchild in Marbella - although we did know already that Fairchild was back and forth between Spain and London during the 80's and 90's.
Macquisten says it was Chapman who provided the photos he saw - but from whom did Chapman get the photographs? Does she have any connection to John Fairchild? A photograph of her can be found at here.
In the 18 August 2008 issue of The Antiques Trade Gazette Macquisten notes: "Together with Jacqueline Chapman, who has spent some considerable time researching the life and work of Psaier, he [John Nicholson] is now determined to prove his point to the satisfaction of the art world and publish the catalogue raisonné." Nicholson may have hoped to "prove his point" that Psaier existed by publishing a catalogue raisonné of Psaier's work but more than two years later, no catalogue raisonné has been forthcoming.
Further information on Pietro Psaier:
Sunday Times accused of "blackmail" over Pietro Psaier controversy (September 2009)
Holly Woodlawn denies Pietro Psaier link (August 2008)
Psaier deletion debate on Wikipedia (July 2008)