Todd White of Spongebob Squarepants and Art World Fame Accused of Fraud with His Own Work

Todd White, the SpongeBob Squarepants illustrator who either took out a Huntington Beach gallerist with a team of ninjas or is protecting the free world from art fraud and copyright infringement, now has the suit against him rising to class-action status.

The plaintiff--one more time, with feeling--is Gallery HB's Margaret Howell, who started the legal tug-of-war with her original allegations of violence, theft and intimidation by the Hollywood artist and martial arts buff.

Howell in early August filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court that claims White hired thugs to attack and rob her of his internationally renowned paintings before forcibly taking over her space at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. She alleges this happened the evening of Aug. 2 at the gallery through the early morning hours of Aug. 3 at her Fountain Valley home. Her suit seeks $5.5 million from White. I first wrote about the case here:

After calling Howell's suit and version of events "totally absurd," White filed a counter-suit in federal district court in Los Angeles in late August accusing her of fraud for supposedly making unauthorized copies of his work and selling them at her gallery.

The artist claims that on the night of what Howell has characterized as an attack, his representatives confronted her at the gallery, got her to admit to selling unauthorized copies of work by him and other artists and were voluntarily handed the art pieces to settle their dispute. The artist also said he informed the Hyatt before his representatives went to The Gallery HB to retrieve his work and the phonies, and that no one attacked anyone.

So, now comes Howell's filing for class-action status, claiming White "defrauded hundreds of people by claiming that his limited-edition giclee prints were personally embellished and signed when in reality he outsourced the work to business associates and never touched the artwork," reports ArtInfo's Shane Ferro.

White is alleged to have trained his former manager and others how to hand-number, hand-embellish, and forge his signature on the limited-edition prints, and the complaint singles out a 2007 event at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula where the artist's manager is accused of fraudulently signing "Todd White" on hundreds of certificates of authenticity. 

The suit names two classes of victims: art galleries who bought and resold the allegedly forged artwork and any individuals who bought inauthentic Todd White artwork. On behalf of these groups, Howell wants another $5 million from White.


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