Taylor argues that the researchers applied his fractal criteria incorrectly on Untitled and notes that their Wooden Horse analysis hinges on paint covering less than 5 percent of the canvas, which makes drawing conclusions tricky.
Moreover, he says, the group's conclusion turns on a misconception. "There's an image out there of fractal analysis where you send the image through a computer and if a red light comes on it means it isn't a Pollock and if a green light comes on it is. We have never supported or encouraged such a mindless view."
Even if the new results are correct, Farid says, fractal analysis can still serve as one piece of evidence in the broader puzzle of authentication, which also involves historical and aesthetic judgments. Earlier this year, for example, a Harvard team reported that two pigments found in the 32 alleged Pollocks were not used in paints before 1996 and 1971.
"None of these tools stands by itself," Farid says.
Owners of authentic Pollocks, however, do stand to make a lot of money. Last year, the Pollock painting No. 5, 1948, was reportedly sold to a Mexican financier for a record $140 million.