Orlando Museum Legal Twist: Basquiat Drama and Financial Woes

Legal Drama Unfolds

So, the Orlando Museum of Art is knee-deep in some serious legal chaos over alleged fake Basquiat paintings. Initially, they went after five co-owners, claiming fraud and conspiracy in this whole mess. But guess what? They’re hitting pause on that and narrowing their focus solely on their ex-director, Aaron De Groft. Why? Well, it’s all about trying to save some cash in legal fees.

Change of Plans

In a statement from Mark Elliott, the big cheese at the museum, they’re dropping the lawsuit against the art consortium to hone in on De Groft. It’s a move to slash legal costs and maybe catch a break in their financial nightmare.

Pointing Fingers at De Groft

Elliott’s not holding back – he’s throwing shade at De Groft, putting the blame square on his shoulders for the disastrous Heroes and Monsters exhibition. This exhibit showcased 25 pieces supposedly painted by Basquiat on cardboard. But hold on, things took a wild turn in June 2022 when the FBI swooped in and seized the works during a raid. Turns out, an auctioneer from LA, Michael Barzman, spilled the beans, admitting he and a partner cooked up the forgeries. De Groft got the boot soon after. koin303

Counterpunch from De Groft

De Groft ain’t taking this lying down. He’s firing back with a countersuit, claiming wrongful termination and defamation. According to him, the museum’s lawsuit is a total joke, and he stands by the authenticity of the artworks. He’s calling out the museum’s move as “pathetic.”

Financial Troubles Unveiled

Oh, and there’s more drama. News leaked about an internal meeting that spilled the beans on the museum’s financial nightmare. Get this – they’re staring at a whopping $1 million deficit for the upcoming year. Executive director Cathryn Mattson spilled the tea, revealing they’ve burned through hundreds of thousands on crisis communications and legal fees.

Money Woes Pile Up

In this meeting exposé, Mattson dropped some truth bombs. The museum’s expenses shot up by 25% within a year, throwing their budget into chaos. The reserve funds? Almost empty. Lines of credit? Maxed out. Loans? Yep, they’ve hit that too. The museum’s drowning in a $500,000 debt, and they’re looking at a budgetary black hole of $1 million by June – and their yearly budget is just around $4 million.


The Orlando Museum of Art is navigating a double whammy – battling legal demons over fake Basquiat pieces and trying to stay afloat in a sea of financial troubles. Whether De Groft is the fall guy or a victim remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure – this museum is in a serious pickle. Stay tuned for the next episode of “Museum Mayhem and Financial Fiascos.”