Basquiat's Discoverer, Gallerist,
and Basquiat Authentication Committee Co-Founder
Jean-Michel was a New York City street artist when Diego Cortez spotted his raw talent and literally brought him into his studio and gave him $200 to purchase paint, brushes, and canvas. His first gallerist, Cortez remained close to the artist up to the time of his death. Along with Jean-Michel’s Father, Cortez co-founded the Basquiat Authentication Committee where he was the most knowledgeable expert.
Cortez rarely comments on paintings attributed to his former protégé. In the case of the Basquiat Venice Collections’ six paintings, however, he was so impressed that he has given an unqualified authentication opinion. His authenticity letters can be found in DOCUMENTS.
Dr. Jordana Moore Saggese:
Jordana Moore Saggese, formerly Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at California College of the Arts, is Associate Professor of American Art at the University of Maryland and Editor-in-Chief of the College Art Association’s Art Journal. Trained as an art historian, Saggese's work focuses on modern and contemporary art with an emphasis on the expressions and theorizations of blackness.
Her first book Reading Basquiat: Exploring Ambivalence in American Art, which reexamines the painting practice of the often-mythologized 1980's art star Jean-Michel Basquiat, was published by the University of California Press in the summer of 2014 and won the PEN Center USA Award for Exceptional First Book.
Forensic Document Consultant
James Blanco has over 28 years of experience as a Forensic Document Examiner. In full-time private practice with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Mr. Blanco works cases throughout the United States. Former full time Federal and State government Forensic Document Examiner employee. Mr. Blanco has rendered in excess of 8,000 expert opinions over twenty-eight years of experience, including opinions on artworks by Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Rembrandt, Willem de Kooning, Erté, Salvador Dalí, and many others.
Executive Director, Art Encounters
As a graduate with a BFA from New York University and of the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, Mr. Ferguson has had a distinguished 30-year career in fine art. Mr. Ferguson has extensive experience in the art gallery business, having been employed as Director for some of the finest galleries in New York and Las Vegas.
Mr. Ferguson was a close friend and associate of Basquiat over many years. They spent time together in New York where Mr. Ferguson had the opportunity to observe Basquiat painting firsthand.