Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


In a 1993 case involving the authenticity of a mobile by sculptor Alexander Calder, Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer bitterly conceded that if a prominent art expert testified that a work was a forgery, it would become so in the eyes of the market and its value would be destroyed. However, the judge went on to say, "this is not the market, but a court of law, in which the trier of fact must make a decision based upon a preponderance of the evidence." While acknowledging that the opinion of the more respected expert (that the Calder mobile was a fake) would govern in the art world, Judge Oberdorfer ruled that the mobile was "more likely than not" the original Rio Nero by Alexander Calder. Twenty years later, this piece remains unsold, even after its current owner has obtained a judgment of a United States District Court declaring its authenticity.