Gallery owner alleges major US Western art sale defamed him

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(AP Photo/Peng Peng)

RENO, Nev. (AP) – The head of fine art galleries in New Mexico and New York City has filed a defamation suit against one of the world’s largest Western American art auctions and a Nevada gallery.

Gerald P. Peters of Santa Fe is accusing them of falsely claiming a $1 million painting he sold is a fake. He’s seeking unspecified damages from Peter Stremmel Galleries, the Coeur D’Alene Art Auction of Nevada and an Idaho-based organizer of the auction.

The lawsuit centers on an early 20th-century oil painting Peters says is the work of Frank Tenney Johnson.

Johnson, who died in Los Angeles in 1939, is known for moonlit, frontier scenes of cowboys and Native Americans.

More than a dozen of his paintings have sold at Nevada’s massive annual Coeur D’Alene Auction, most recently “Cowboys Roping the Bear” for more than $965,000 in 2012.

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