Orange County

Orlando Museum of Art director defends authenticity of Basquiat paintings

ORLANDO, Fla. — People are packing in to see the Orlando Museum of Art’s new Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit, as controversy swirls over the authenticity of the work.

The paintings, which were found in the storage locker of a television writer, are said to be worth about $100 million.


A picture of the back of the painting titled “Crown Face II,” which was done on a FedEx cardboard box, was the focus of an article in the New York Times questioning the authenticity of the art at the museum, saying this type of box was used six years after Basquiat died.

But the director of OMA, Aaron De Groft, said before the paintings came to the museum they were scrutinized and authenticated as the works of Basquiat.

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“So the source said that he was involved with inventing a logo in 1994, and that this box uses a logo and font of the time after all this is done,” he said. “However, that’s not true. There is no logo on this box.”

De Groft said the museum stands behind the authenticity of the art.

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“We stand by our industrial, rigorous academic process,” he said. “And I’ll say also, again, we don’t authenticate art. They were authenticated before we were involved by major, major specialists; they put their entire reputation on the line.”

Despite the controversy, De Groft said attendance is up 500% since the exhibit went on display in the gallery. He said 4,000 people came through the exhibit within the first two days it opened.

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Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich,

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.