In the summer of 2018, art gallery owner and auctioneer David Killen purchased a storage unit filled with art that was considered unremarkable. Ashe emptied the unit out, he noticed a box marked “de Kooning pulloffs.”
David Killen called me to take a look at them, knowing that not only am I an art conservator, but that I also worked in de Kooning’s studio early in my career. I followed that with working for Orrin Riley, a world-renowned restorer who had worked on de Koonings – and whose storage unit the paintings were found in. As soon as I saw the lot, I knew they were real. When I first looked at them I could only see a corner, I could tell right away they had Bill’s style and his materials – the type of vellum he used and in right the size. Plus there was green glassine that he used, and I don’t think they even make it any more.
It took 3 or 4 weeks to get the glassine off the works to free up the art. Then there was no question in my mind.