For more than three decades, Marc Restellini’s life has been very much about his study of Amedeo Modigliani, the Italian painter known for his elongated, slender faces and figures.

He has organized exhibitions of Modigliani’s work in spots around the world and in the 1990s began his own magnum opus: a catalogue raisonné, or a definitive compendium, of Modigliani’s work.

He has been exhaustive in authenticating the artist’s work because Modigliani, whose paintings often sell for millions of dollars, has been a favorite of forgers. So to document their authenticity, Mr. Restellini, a French art scholar, has worked to persuade owners to submit their paintings for testing, sampled the paint, analyzed the works with infrared photography and magnetic resonance, and sought documents from family members of Modigliani’s original collectors.

But now, months before the first volumes of Mr. Restellini’s catalogue raisonné are expected to be published, he says in a federal copyright lawsuit filed in Manhattan this week that he believes a nonprofit organization in New York, the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, is planning to make some of his research publicly available.

“The law allows Mr. Restellini, and only Mr. Restellini, to determine how, when, and where to disclose the results of his years of research and his scientific discoveries about the works of Modigliani,” his lawyer, Daniel W. Levy, said in a statement.

Mr. Restellini’s lawsuit against the institute asserts that it is in possession of roughly 89 boxes and various other containers of research materials that he had amassed over the years and that are rightfully his. The lawsuit accuses the nonprofit of holding this research “hostage.”

The Wildenstein Plattner Institute, however, says the records are theirs.

Calling the lawsuit a “publicity stunt,” the nonprofit organization’s lawyers said in a statement that the institute’s files regarding Modigliani “do not belong to Mr. Restellini.” The statement said the institute is legally within its right to “share its Modigliani archives with the public in furtherance of its charitable mission.”

The research materials are with the institute because, for about 17 years, according to the lawsuit, Mr. Restellini’s work was supported by an older institute, the Wildenstein Institute, an art history research center based in Paris and operated by the Wildenstein family, a French art-dealing dynasty that dates back four generations. Mr. Restellini used the institute as a work space and had access to its library and storage facilities.

The authenticity issue is particularly fraught in the market for Modigliani. Although the artist only lived until 35, he was prolific and sometimes, to pay his bills, he gave away and sold paintings and drawings, without documenting their creation or to whom they had been sold or gifted.

Mr. Restellini’s catalogue raisonné is believed to be the sixth inventory created of the artist’s work. The first volumes of it are expected to be published this winter. It promises the inclusion of dozens of previously unidentified Modigliani works and excludes those that are suspected of not being entirely composed by the artist.

In seeking to demonstrate the importance of his undertaking, the lawsuit highlights a particular work that Mr. Restellini contends is an altered Modigliani, but was sold by an auction house twice as a work done completely by Modigliani’s hand. Mr. Restellini’s lawsuit contends the auction house relied on an earlier, less precise catalogue raisonné in making that determination.

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