Peregrine flight

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Donald Gajadhar

Donald Gajadhar is a friend of mine, for well over twenty five years. We use to exhibit at the Los Angeles Modernism Show together when he was working with James Infante. 

An artist, he owns an antique appraisal business in New York.

Donald is incredibly bright and personable and was always a delight to be around. 

But I never knew much about his backstory, one that has been getting a lot of publicity lately due to an increasingly overly woke society.

Read this article at the Telegraph. Or here

The National Portrait Gallery is under fire after wrongly claiming that an art dealer built his career using money from slavery.

The London gallery claimed next to a portrait of Edward Fox White that a compensation payout his father-in-law received for freeing slaves was used to “establish and sustain” his career.

However, curators have been forced to admit there is “no evidence” for the link after it was spotted by Donald Gajadhar, Mr White’s great-great-grandson.

They have now removed any mention of slavery from the caption, but Mr Gajadhar is asking for a public retraction of the slur on his ancestor.

“The claim simply isn’t true,” he told The Telegraph. “They had no evidence that his father-in-law, Moses Gomes Silva, gave him any money from his slave compensation. 

“It seems to me that it was put there to tick some boxes, but that’s not right, they should have done their due diligence.

“It made me feel that they are sloppy, that they have an agenda which is more important to them than the facts.

“I want them to issue a public retraction and to apologise. I want them to tell the truth and to do their job properly.”

The oil painting, by French artist James Tissot, was sold by Mr Gajadhar’s grandmother to Christie’s in 1988 and is currently on loan to the National Portrait Gallery.

Mr Gajadhar, who runs Fox-White and Associates, an art appraisal company founded by Mr White, noticed the caption when he visited the gallery last summer.

‌It read: “White’s first marriage linked him to a wealthy Sephardic Portuguese Jewish family who had owned Jamaican sugar plantations. 

“Following Abolition in 1836, White’s future father-in-law received a ‘large amount’ of compensation for 28 enslaved Africans – money that would later help establish and sustain White’s career.”

In a letter to The Telegraph, Mr Gajadhar said the claim “did not align with my knowledge of our family history, which revealed no such transaction”.

He added: “[As] a descendant of slaves myself, I felt compelled to seek clarification”, and said he wrote to the gallery in December asking staff to provide the source of their claims.

Mr Gajadhar, who is of English, West Indian and Indian descent, noted that, as the firm he runs from New York is now “black owned”, it is “not good to claim it is founded on the backs of slavery compensation”.

The gallery told him that staff had committed to “exploring multiple and diverse narratives of British history” including “stories of empire and colonialism, which are woven through the interpretation at the National Portrait Gallery to provide global context to the people and portraits on display, and to explore their legacies”.

It admitted that “while it is not easily demonstrable (and not having access to the relevant historic accounts) that there is a direct link” between the compensation Mr Gomes Silva received for freeing enslaved Africans and the inheritance he later left for his daughter, there was “nevertheless a possibility” that she and her husband may have benefitted from the money.

The gallery did not reveal the source of its claim.
I find it strangely ironic that my friend, who is dark complected and himself a descendent of slaves, was put through the ringer by the excessively woke, on racial grounds, especially when the initial "proof" was so speculative and flimsy.

But I guess that is the world in which we now live. Young and perfect social custodians can now examine the past with their twenty twenty righteous vision and denude any moment in historical time that does not correspond to their infinite sanctity and purity.

Shoot first and deal with the mess later, that is, if anybody catches on. Who among us could pass these sorts of historical ideological litmus tests?

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