"One man’s nearly three-decade quest to authenticate a potential Mark Rothko painting purchased at auction for $319.50 plus tax has turned up convincing evidence in the work’s favor, but the experts seem unlikely to issue a ruling.”
"The painting, which features Rothko’s iconic stacked rectangular blocks of color, bears the artist’s signature and the name of the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), where Rothko taught in 1949."
"In the years since, Himmelfarb has found little support from the art establishment, while his personal fortunes have taken a dramatic downturn: the government recently foreclosed on his Hawaii home. If his Rothko is real, it could be his salvation, but it seems that no one is willing to issue an opinion."
"Rothko expert David Anfam, who published the artist’s catalogue raisonné in 1998, has been familiar with Himmelfarb’s painting since the late 1980s. The scholar even discovered a black-and-white photograph of the work in the archives held by Rothko’s family, but still declined to include the work in his book."
"As part of his bankruptcy proceedings last year, Himmelfarb, who had never seen the crucial photo for himself, was able to subpoena it, providing solid evidence in his favor. The Rothko family, however, only turned over the photograph with the disclaimer that they ‘specifically caution against drawing any undue inference of authenticity.’”
All the Evidence Indicates It’s a Rothko, but Experts Refuse to Authenticate