A work of art supposedly by Basquiat that was pained on One of the works painted on cardboard shows a message on the back: of a box with a FedEx shipping label that was not used until after the artist’s death.

Just Fake It

The story, it seems, is this.

There is a broadcaster (although that term may not be entirely encompassing, as there is a streaming service involved, so that’s not precisely “broadcasting,” although as the channel has some 167 million subscribers in the U.S., that certainly is broad) who talks about sports.

Charissa Thompson works as a co-host for both Fox Sports and Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football.” She is no rookie to sports talk, as she had gigs at GSN, the Big Ten Network, Versus, and ESPN, the last being the place she left in 2013 to move to Fox. She also was a host on “Ultimate Beastmaster,” but we’ll leave that one alone. (She actually began her career in the Fox Sports HR department, which is probably hard at work vis-a-vis Thompson at this very moment.

Thompson has a degree in Law and Society from University of California at Santa Barbara, which is a nice place to get a degree of any type from. The Law and Society degree tends to be focused more on sociology than statutes; however, the role of things legal and their impact on society are certainly part of the curriculum.

Last week on a podcast, Thompson said that sometimes during halftime at a football game when the booth threw it to Thompson on the sidelines, she found herself in a bit of a fix because the coach wouldn’t, for whatever reason, talk to her.

Thompson said: “I didn’t want to screw up the report, so I was like, ‘I’m just going to make this up.’ Because, first of all, no coach is going to get mad if I say, ‘Hey, we need to stop hurting ourselves,’ ‘We need to be better on third down,’ ‘We need to stop turning the ball over and do a better job of getting off the field.’ Like, they’re not going to correct me on that.”

Seemed, to her, like a reasonable thing to do. And in the event that said coach heard her report after the fact and the various uncontroversial comments, there might have been a shrug, assuming that the coach even remembered the situation at all.


Last week in the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Orange County, Florida, Aaron de Groft, former director of the Orlando Museum of Art, is suing his former employer, which is also suing him.

In de Groft’s filing, it says:

“Defendant [de Groft] is a highly-regarded art historian, curator, scholar, and author with three art history degrees (including a Ph.D.) and 35 years of excellent experience in art museum management and authenticating works of art. Until Plaintiff illegally terminated him and orchestrated a concert campaign to destroy him, Defendant had a stellar reputation among his peers.”

Sounds more impressive than Thompson (“including a Ph.D.”).

In June 2022 the FBI raided the Orlando Museum of Art and seized 25 paintings that were presented as being by Jean-Michel Basquiat but which had, it seems, a rather dubious provenance, which led to the seizure.

The Orlando Museum is suing de Groft because it is claiming he knew the paintings were fakes but presented them in a show, “Heroes & Monsters,” with the intent of validating their existence as Basquiats so their value would be increased and that he would be able to benefit from the sales.

De Groft maintains “Defendant followed all standard professional protocols in directing the due diligence of the 25 paintings’ authenticity and approving the Exhibition.”

Realize that these paintings are not from some distant time in the past. They were allegedly painted in the early 1980s and appeared in public in 2012.

Evidently de Groft and a sufficient number of other people were convinced that the paintings had been executed by Basquiat, who died in 1988 at age 27 from a heroin overdose and who left behind hundreds of works. (He also did the cover designs for Beat Bop (1983) and The Offs (1984).)

What this situation comes down to is a question of whether people made things up, both the physical works of art as well as the statement that they are works that had been executed by Basquiat.


The word like has two meanings. One goes to the point of similarity. This goes back to the Old English gelic, which was from the Proto-Germanic. Back in the 17th century there was a form of the word that amped things up: likest.

Then there is the version of the word that goes back to the Old English lician, which meant pleasing and sufficient.

In the case of the first, the last three letters go to our modern use; in the second, it is the first three letters: both sets are the same.

And when it comes to a fake—and that word is thought to have come from late 18th-century London criminal slang—it takes both the adjective and verb forms of like: It is something that is similar, ideally likest, and it is something that is highly pleasing, or at least something that is not objectionable such that it would cause one to think there is a difference from whatever the source is thought to be.

For something to work as a fake there must be both versions of like.

  • Similar
  • Satisfying


Charissa Thompson, by her own admission, stated things that while possibly true (“We need to do better on third down”), were made up. Her statements were similar to what coaches would say and they were sufficiently satisfying to the viewers of the game such that no one objected to them.

They were examples of like.

The case of the questionable Basquiats is slightly more tricky because at this point we don’t know whether they were done by the artist or by someone else. But they are similar to what Basquiat created. And people who are in positions of knowing whether such things are authentic were satisfied with them.

Controversy notwithstanding, examples of like.


So what does any of this have to do with music?

Let’s take a current example: “Now and Then” by the Beatles.

While there are some who argue that it is really not by “the Beatles” (“John didn’t release it because he didn’t think it was good enough!” I’ve heard for example, “So it can’t be a Beatles’ record!”), there are a sufficient number of people who like it so that it exists as a work by the Beatles. The authority of McCartney and Starr bolster that.

But let’s take this a few years into the future. McCartney and Starr have joined Lennon and Harrison. And someone with a certain level of authority (perhaps “including a Ph.D.”) proclaims the discovery of “Now and Then Again.”

It sounds like Beatles music. It is very much like what is known to have been created by the band.

And consequently, people like it. They are satisfied that it sounds like something they might have heard had the tape not mysteriously disappeared sometime in the late 1970s. Beatles fans are more than satisfied; they are elated with still another recording by the band.

But then the person who announced the discovery pulls a Thompson and says it was just made up and created via a combination of cover bands and no AI because that opens another container of invertebrates that deserves its own consideration.

Does “Now and Then Again” sound different?

Have people been maliciously misled?

Will people lose their jobs? Will people be convicted?

Or will everyone just move on, realizing that maybe we really do live in a post-truth world?


One thought on “Just Fake It”

  1. I read this Vanity Fair article a couple months ago: How 25 Dubious Basquiats Created a Massive Museum Scandal—And Exposed Some Dark Art Truths. One of the rather indisputable arguments is that one of the pieces was done on the back of a cardboard box with a shipping sticker with the alleged forger’s name and address on it.

    Another art expert noticed a piece that shows a message on the back in a font and ink color that were not used by FedEx until after Basquiat’s death.

    So it’s pretty clear that whoever originally authenticated the pieces either didn’t do their homework or had something to gain by them being authentic…

    Regardless, from the front they still looked good enough to fool a lot of people.

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