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A few months after the abstract painter Richard Diebenkorn died in 1993 his family visited Knoedler & Company, the gallery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that had long been his dealer. His wife, Phyllis; his daughter, Gretchen; and an art scholar went to see two gouache drawings that the gallery had recently acquired and that it hoped to sell as works from Diebenkorn’s celebrated Ocean Park series.

What happened at the meeting nearly two decades ago is now a matter of dispute, one that has only grown in significance as the gallery, once venerable and now closed, battles accusations that it sold many works of modern art that were actually sophisticated forgeries.

The Diebenkorn family says it made it plain that day, before the drawings were sold, that it suspected the drawings were fakes.

“They didn’t look quite right, and we said, ‘The provenance is wacky and the story behind the provenance makes no sense,’ ” said Richard Grant, the artist’s son-in-law and the executive director of the Diebenkorn Foundation.

The gallery and its former president, Ann Freedman, say the family embraced the drawings as legitimate.

“We have definitive documentary evidence,” said Nicholas Gravante Jr., Ms. Freedman’s lawyer, including a copy of a 1995 letter from the gallery to the family members “confirming that they had viewed and authenticated the works Ms. Freedman showed them as being by Diebenkorn.”

For months Knoedler has been buffeted by accusations that it failed to check sufficiently the authenticity of more than 20 paintings it promoted as the work of Modernist masters. Now, in the matter of these Diebenkorn works, Mr. Grant said that Knoedler intentionally overlooked adverse information in order to sell the two drawings, and perhaps eight others, that he says it wrongly attributed to Diebenkorn. Most of them were not shown to the family, he said.

While the gallery and Ms. Freedman deny the accusations, the art scholar who accompanied the Diebenkorn family that day in 1993 said he could confirm the family’s account. “This was a long time ago, but I can remember standing in the room at Knoedler, particularly Phyllis and I looking at them,” said the scholar, John Elderfield, a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art who still assists the family in reviewing artworks. “We did express doubt.”

The drawings in question were two of five sold by Knoedler as Diebenkorns that came from a man who would not say where he had gotten them, Mr. Grant said. The family also disputes the authenticity of another five drawings that Knoedler sold in the 1990s as part of the Ocean Park series and were said to have come from a second source, a Madrid gallery called Vijande, now shuttered.

Knoedler and Ms. Freedman declined to discuss the Diebenkorn matter, including the provenance of the drawings or how many were sold.

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