€200k worth of books stolen

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A former librarian who stole hundreds of rare, antique books worth nearly €200,000 from the National Library of Ireland has received a suspended sentence.

Lawyers for John Nulty, aged 37, said that for nine years, he was compulsively taking the books and hoarding them in his home. When gardaí arrived at his Dublin home in April 2013 with a search warrant, they found “an Aladdin’s cave” where Nulty was living surrounded by books.

Nulty, of Portersgate, Clonsilla, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eight sample counts of theft from a total of 216 charges. Most of the charges relate to theft from the National Library between July 5, 2004 and April 24, 2013.

He also admitted to two counts of stealing from Brother Tom Connolly at the Allen Library, North Richmond St, between November 2003 and July 2004, when he worked there. His only other previous conviction is for a minor public order offence.

Books taken included Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls and books on Anglo Irish history and Celtic mythology. Some of the books were first editions and some were signed, while others were valuable because of their historical and national interest. Nulty would put the books in his bag and walk out with them.

Judge Martin Nolan said Nulty was an eccentric who became obsessed with hoarding the books and took satisfaction from having them.

He said that if Nulty had sold all the books and made a profit, a jail term would be inevitable. He noted that, given most of the books had been recovered intact, the actual loss to the library was around €5,000.

He said it would be unjust to imprison him immediately, suspending a sentence of two-and-a-half years on condition he is of good behaviour for that period.

Detective Garda Declan O’Brien told Garret Baker, prosecuting, the thefts came to light when Gerard Long, an assistant keeper at the National Library, noticed that two books which were part of the Sean O’Casey library were for sale online.

The books had been sold by Nulty to a seller of rare books who had in turn placed them for sale online. Nulty had kept most of the other books and stored them in his home and at an off-site storage facility.

Det Garda O’Brien said the estimated value of the stolen books was €199,322.

Sean Gillane, defending, said Nulty had considered burning all the books in order to put it all behind him, but his respect and love for their value prevented him from doing this. He said Nulty felt a certain relief when he was caught. Some books were stored in conservation boxes to protect them.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Source: €200k worth of books stolen

July 31st, 2016

Posted In: insider theft

Former librarian who stole hundreds of rare antique books worth nearly €200,000 from the National Library of Ireland avoids jail

Published 27/07/2016 | 15:07

National Library of Ireland2
National Library of Ireland

A former librarian who stole hundreds of rare antique books worth nearly €200,000 from the National Library of Ireland has received a suspended sentence.

Lawyers for John Nulty (37) said that for nine years he was compulsively taking the books and hoarding them in his home. When gardaí arrived at his Dublin home in April 2013 with a search warrant they found “an Aladdin’s cave” where Nulty was living surrounded by books.

Nulty of Portersgate, Clonsilla, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eight sample counts of theft from a total of 216 charges. Most of the charges relate to theft from the National Library between July 5, 2004 and April 24, 2013.

Nulty also admitted to two counts of stealing from Brother Tom Connolly at the Allen Library, North Richmond Street, between November 2003 and July 2004, when he worked there. His only other previous conviction is for a minor public order offence.

The books taken included Ernest Hemingway’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and books on Anglo Irish history and Celtic mythology. Some of the books were first editions and some were signed while others were valuable because of their historical and national interest. Nulty would put the books in his bag and walk out with them.

Judge Martin Nolan said that Nulty was an eccentric man who became obsessed with hoarding the books and took some satisfaction from having them.

He said that if Nulty had sold all the books and made a profit, a jail term would be inevitable. He noted that, given most of the books had been recovered intact, the actual loss to the library was around €5,000.

He said it would be unjust to imprison him immediately and he suspended a sentence of two and a half years on condition he is of good behaviour for that period.

Detective Garda Declan O’Brien told Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, that the thefts came to light when Gerard Long, an assistant keeper at the National Library, noticed that two books which were part of the Sean O’Casey library were for sale online.

The books had been sold by Nulty to a seller of rare books who had in turn placed them for sale online. Nulty had kept most of the other books and stored them in his home and also at an off site storage facility.

Some of the books were stored in conservation boxes to protect them. Det Gda O’Brien said the estimated value of the stolen books was €199,322.

Sean Gillane SC, defending, said that at one point Nulty considered burning all the books in order to put it all behind him but his respect and love for their value prevented him from doing this. He said that Nulty felt a certain relief when he was caught.

Counsel said that Nulty came from a “terribly decent” family and was “terribly remorseful” and sorry for the shame it had brought them and for breaching the trust of his employers.

Online Editors

Source: Former librarian who stole hundreds of rare antique books worth nearly €200,000 from the National Library of Ireland avoids jail

July 28th, 2016

Posted In: insider theft

Vietnam museum says all paintings fake in high-profile exhibition

Titled as "Abstract," this painting is found to be deceptively put under the name of late artist Ta Ty at the exhibition "Paintings returned from the Europe." A living artist has claimed the work as his. Photo: Lucy Nguyen/Thanh NienTitled as “Abstract,” this painting is found to be deceptively put under the name of late artist Ta Ty at the exhibition “Paintings returned from the Europe.” A living artist has claimed the work as his. Photo: Lucy Nguyen/Thanh Nien

The Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts Tuesday publicly apologized for failing to verify the authenticity of 17 paintings on display at an exhibition that have been confirmed as fake.

A panel of famous artists and experts and officials found 15 of the paintings, supposedly the works of legendary artists such as Nguyen Tu Nghiem and Bui Xuan Phai, were copies.

Two others were found to be works of other artists. At least one living artist, Thanh Chuong, has claimed one of the two paintings as his.

All the paintings at the show are owned by Vu Xuan Chung, who claimed to have acquired them from Jean-Francois Hubert, a known expert on Vietnamese art and a former senior consultant for giant auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

The “Paintings returned from the Europe” exhibition opened on July 10 and soon faced forgery accusations from local artists and experts. It was originally slated to end on July 21.

Trinh Xuan Yen, deputy director of the museum, said it would keep all the paintings and ask relevant authorities to step in.

Luong Xuan Doan, vice chairman of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, called the scandal “an insult to Vietnam’s fine arts.”

“All local artists are outraged by the paintings which are bad and superficial copies. Anyone can see they are fake.”

The “Abstract” painting by painter Thanh Chuong. Photo: Lucy Nguyen/Thanh Nien

Chuong, who said his work had been stolen and displayed at the exhibition under another artist’s name, said the incident would at least help authorities crack down on the forgery of Vietnamese paintings that has been going on for many years.

Many people, including officials, have been aware of the problem but had no evidence until now, he said.

Speaking to Thanh Nien, Chung, the collector, said all the paintings’ authenticity was certified by Hubert and that he trusts the French expert. It is not known how much Chung paid for the collection.

Hubert also insisted on the paintings’ authenticity in an interview withThanh Nien.

Source: Vietnam museum says all paintings fake in high-profile exhibition

July 20th, 2016

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

These Four Technologies May Finally Put an End to Art Forgery

Like method actors and bearded brewmasters, the best art forgers are obsessed with authenticity. But thanks to a handful of new authentication technologies, even history’s most painstaking efforts wouldn’t stump today’s art sleuths.

Take Han van Meegeren, the most successful knockoff artist of the pre-war period. Adjusted for inflation, he made $30 million selling ersatz Dutch masters. Curators weren’t fooled just because the paintings looked perfect. (In fact, his Vermeers looked decidedly imperfect.) They were fooled because the art passed a crude forensic sniff test: every detail was “period correct.” He tracked down 17th-century canvases and stretchers. He duplicated Vermeer’s badger-hair brushes. And, in a stroke of OCD genius, he hand-ground exotic raw pigments following archaic formulas—no skimping allowed. Because faking Vermeer’s gorgeous signature paint would feel like cheating.

The 8 Most Prolific Forgers in Art History (That We Know Of)

Read full article

Today’s art authenticators have enough weapons in their arsenal—infrared spectroscopy, radiometric dating, gas chromatography—to spot a van Meegeren long before it hits the auction block. Many of these lab tests, though, are decades old, ample time for forgers to study the science and incremental improvements, perfect new counter-measures, and game the system.

Here’s the good news: The balance of power in the forgery detection game is about to shift. The art world has been closely monitoring scientific breakthroughs in fields as diverse as A.I., bitcoin, and protein analysis, and the technologies born from this research have either been appropriated by authenticators or will be soon. With these extra layers of security added to the vetting process, the current generation of copycat artists will find it increasingly difficult to hoodwink museum directors and collectors. Listen carefully, art patrons: That’s the sound of badger-hair brushes being turned into kindling.

Tracking Digital Provenance with Blockchain

Digital art is increasingly gaining traction in the contemporary art world. Phillips’s last two “Paddles ON!” auctions, which showcased digital formats ranging from GIFs to video game screenshots, have been well received. Blue-chip galleries are on board too; Pace Art + Technology, a new 20,000-square-foot space in Silicon Valley, is dedicated solely to digital media. Digital art collectives—Japan’s teamLab being the most prominent—have also sprung up.

Most importantly, prices are rising. In 2003, Cory Arcangel’s Super Mario Clouds, a wall projection birthed from a hacked Nintendo chip, sold for $3,000. Last year, an edition of that same piece went for $630,000. Still, the question remains: How can a gallery sell digital content as investment-grade art when it already exists online and can be copied like a Google Doc? The answer is blockchain, the same computer technology that serves as the public ledger for bitcoin transactions around the globe. In the same way that you can verify and track the movement of any bitcoin ever mined, you can now verify and track the movement of any artwork ever created—online and in real time—provided that all the authorship and ownership records have been uploaded to a secure distributed database.

Every event in the lifespan of an artwork becomes a block that contains a timestamp and information linking it to the previous block, enabling prospective buyers to confirm that the artwork has been licensed. This tech is ideal for digital media, where copies may be passed off as originals, and the specifics regarding limited editions and artist’s proofs are frequently vague.

Several companies are peddling this service: Verisart in Los Angeles, Ascribe in Berlin, and Everledger in London. Deloitte also sees the opportunity, having unveiled its ArtTracktive service at the ICT Spring summit in Luxembourg. But the startup that’s become a buzzword in the art world is Monegraph. That’s because the founder is an artist. “Digital art has a problem: Bits are infinitely reproducible, and people want exclusivity and verifiability,” explains media artist and Monegraph founder Kevin McCoy. “Blockchain solves that problem by providing a clear and distinct provenance.”

Anti-Forgery through “Deep Learning”

Traditionally, authentication has relied on connoisseurs. After studying things like brushstroke, texture, composition, and color, they summon forth their vast wealth of knowledge and divine the truth. But as is the case with sports officiating, bad calls are part of the game. One of the most famous examples is Dr. Abraham Bredius. In the 1930s, he was recognized as the foremost authority on Dutch Old Masters. The ex-museum director was celebrated for his scholarship and unerring eye. Today, however, he’s remembered as the guy who mistook van Meegeren’s forgery, The Supper at Emmaus, for a national treasure. Bredius’s exuberant appraisal, published in The Burlington Magazine, included the fateful line “every inch [is] a Vermeer.”

Hans van Meegeren’s forgery of Vermeer’s The Last Supper, 1984. Photographer Croes, Rob C., Fotocollectie Anefo, Nationaal Archief NL. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s only a matter of time before a robot can tell the difference between a van Meegeren and a Vermeer. Much of the research into this technology is being conducted at the Rutgers Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, an offshoot of the university’s computer science department. A paper published last year by two of the lab’s scientists, Babak Saleh and Ahmed Elgammal, shows how an algorithm they developed is able to differentiate between Picasso and Matisse drawings with over 75-percent accuracy without analyzing composition or subject matter. Just by looking at individual strokes. In addition to automatically classifying images from a database of 80,000 individual works, the algorithm can also search for stylistic connections among them. In one example, the researchers chose a group of paintings and asked the program to identify the “closest match” among paintings in other genres. The results found extraordinary similarities between examples of Russian Romanticism and French Impressionism, and between works of Pop Art and the Northern Renaissance.

Like any other computer technology, over time, this algorithm will become more sophisticated and accuracy rates will spike. In the near future, a new anti-forgery algorithm based on this scientific research will be launched. Major museums, corporate art curators, and insurance companies will see to that. “The machine has an advantage over the human eye because it can analyze hundreds of thousands of individual strokes and statistically characterize them,” says Elgammal. “If we train the machine to identify styles based on characteristics that are less intentional and unconsciously rendered by the artist, we’ll be able to detect forgeries.” Think about that for a moment: an algorithm that can detect the artist’s subconscious in brushstrokes or pencil sketches. Good luck copying that, Mr. van Meegeren.

A More Sophisticated “Fingerprint”

The gold standard in early-20th-century authenticity cases has been an expert’s stamp of approval. Today, however, when forgery cases go to trial, provenance and connoisseurship are increasingly under scrutiny. Certificates of authenticity and bills of sale can be fabricated. In 2013, Modigliani Institute president Christian Parisot was arrested and charged with providing false certificates for almost $8.7 million worth of counterfeit—you guessed it—Modiglianis. Likewise, art historians and appraisers can be bribed, have conflicts of interest, or just screw up. This goes a long way toward explaining why the men in white lab coats wield so much clout in forgery cases.

There is no litmus test that can distinguish between art and artifice. But unlike the subjective eye, the latest spectra-matching science to hit the art forensics scene, peptide mass fingerprinting (better known as PMF), is hard to dismiss. Originally developed in 1993 and typically used in industries like biotech, PMF is a data-crunching tech that can analyze animal proteins on a molecular level. Until now, there was no scientific method to identify the type of animal tissue used in art materials like paint binders, adhesives, and coatings. A fancy machine called the Waters LDI-Time-of-Flight mass spectrometer has changed all that. After analyzing samples taken from an artwork, the LDI deconstructs the proteins and produces spectra containing markers that make up the sample’s “fingerprint.” These markers are then compared to those found in various animal tissues, like egg yolk, to find matches.

This technology, the latest toy for museum conservationists, will soon be added to the authenticator’s toolkit as well. Art conservation and art authentication are as closely aligned as the military and law enforcement. There’s a revolving door that links the two professions and it’s constantly spinning. Daniel Kirby, the scientist who pioneered art conservation PMF, is well aware of this nexus. “These are two sides of the same coin, the only difference is context,” says the former Harvard professor. “One guy’s job is preserving an artwork, the other guy’s job is determining if it’s real or fake. But they both look at the same things and use the same instruments.” Kirby is already fielding calls from insurance companies and art collectors willing to pay handsomely for his PMF magic.

Kirby’s projects have ranged from verifying that an antiquarian book was bound in human skin (affirmative) to determining the composition of Alaskan kayaks (hide: bearded seal; stitching: humpback whale sinew). He has also discovered that Mark Rothko used animal glue and egg on Panel 1 in his Harvard Murals cycle. PMF is so precise that it can even identify what kind of egg (duck, chicken, quail) and which part of the egg (yolk, white, or both) was used as a binder. For the record, Rothko used whole chicken egg to bind the paint and prime his Panel 1 canvas. With so many artworks containing animal proteins—medieval European artists favored fish glue, while Picasso prepped his canvasses with glue made from rabbit skin—insiders are studying Kirby’s research closely. Now the technology just needs to mature. “I’ve got 80 critters in the database,” says Kirby. “As that grows over time, I’ll start getting more matches.”

Embedding Synthetic DNA

In the mid-’90s, a sketch of Eric Fischl’s notorious painting Bad Boy hit the secondary market. The oil-on-paper work was so convincing it not only fooled a major auction house—it fooled Fischl. When friend Simon de Pury congratulated him on this large, monochromatic piece being included in an upcoming Sotheby’s auction, Fischl studied the photo of the imposter lot printed in the glossy catalog, and immediately recognized his handiwork. Dredging his memory, though, he couldn’t remember ever doing this sketch. “I thought I was losing my mind,” recalls Fischl. “Whoever painted it absolutely nailed my style at that time. The only way I knew it wasn’t mine was that I had never done any preparatory drawings of that painting.”

A Forger Confessed to Faking Millions in Lee Ufan Works—Now the Artist Says They’re Real

Read full article

Seeing a mediocre forgery of your work is one thing. Seeing your very soul in another artist’s brushstrokes is quite another. With that kind of backstory, it’s no wonder Fischl endorses synthetic DNA. He says that he’s “in line” to use this new anti-forgery tech, which allows artists to tag their works with tiny bits of synthetic DNA, when it launches: “Between the explosion of the art market, and countries like China that don’t recognize copyright laws and have highly skilled artisans who can knock off any artist’s style, forgeries have become common. The goal is to develop a tamper-proof coding system that will become the standard for authenticating art.”

The Global Center for Innovation at the State University of New York at Albany is experimenting with this ingenious ID science. The project was initially funded to the tune of $2 million by ARIS Title Insurance, a company that specializes in underwriting fine art. ARIS recently purchased the technology, and spun off a company called Provenire Authentication to market it. Like other players in the industry, ARIS wants to protect its slice of the $55 billion fine art market.

The idea is for artists to authenticate their work immediately upon completion—right after the paint on a canvas has dried or a sculpture has left the foundry—by attaching a DNA sample to it the size of a postage stamp. The recurring analogy is the car industry: Think of this as a VIN number for art. Rather than using the artist’s personal DNA, which might raise privacy issues and could conceivably be stolen and embedded in forgeries, synthetic DNA is made in a laboratory. Each artwork is inconspicuously tagged with a unique strand of bioengineered material that provides an encrypted link between the artwork and a secure database containing the definitive information about the artwork.

This DNA data, retrieved by a scanner, will be available to gallery dealers, museum employees, and anyone else who needs to verify the piece. The DNA meets archival standards. It doesn’t come in contact with the art and isn’t susceptible to environmental conditions or tampering. Moreover, deciphering and copying the DNA would be virtually impossible, even if you could find a rogue scientist in Shenzhen to do your bidding. Forget about removing the tag—you’d leave a trail of microscopic evidence all over the piece.

“Synthetic DNA will be admissible evidence in court,” says Provenire Authentication CEO Sam Salman. “Let’s hope that the technology of the good guys is always ahead of the bad guys.” The projected product price is $150. For those who can’t wait to mark their artistic territory with some synthetic DNA, Tagsmart, a British company offering a similar service, is already online. Founded by London framer Mark Darbyshire and software developer Steve Cooke, Tagsmart is a “three-way product” incorporating a synthetic DNA label, a certificate of authenticity, and a digital passport (provenance history). So sleep soundly, Mr. Fischl. At last, your artistic legacy and eight-figure estate is now suitably firewalled.

—Rene Chun

Illustration by Jan Buchczik for Artsy.

Source: These Four Technologies May Finally Put an End to Art Forgery

July 19th, 2016

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

A Forger Confessed to Faking Millions in Lee Ufan Works—Now the Artist Says They’re Real

South Korean artist Lee Ufan poses near his artwork L’arche de Versailles (The arch of Versailles), on June 11, 2014, at the Chateau de Versailles. Image courtesy of Fred Dufour and Getty Images.

Police in Seoul believed they had their man. Following a nearly year-long investigation into the forgery of several works attributed to acclaimed South Korean artist Lee Ufan, a suspect was arrested in May after fleeing to Japan. The man charged—identified only by his surname of Hyeon—operated a gallery in Northeastern Seoul, from which he allegedly sold forged paintings purportedly by Lee. Hyeon allegedly raked in some $1.1 million in the process.

Hyeon was not the only one arrested as part of the investigation into the source of some 13 counterfeit works attributed to Ufan. But shortly after the police picked up Hyeon, the Korea Times ran a story under the headline “13 of Lee’s paintings confirmed to be forged.” According to appraisers and forensic experts, the works in question were not genuine. Even Hyeon admitted to forging the paintings, when questioned by police. Under normal circumstances, the weight of these opinions would sink any doubt that the works were not by Lee’s hand. But no one had asked the artist. And, as it turns out, he disagrees.

Best known as a pioneer of the Japanese Mono-ha style, Lee Ufan is among the most influential and expensive living Korean artists, with his work fetching millions of dollars at auction. Exemplary of the 80-year-old’s subtle and meditative practice isFrom Line, No. 760219 (1976), which sold for $2.16 million at Sotheby’s in 2014. A counterfeit of the “From Lines” series was among the 13 works police claim are forged. Hyeon has admitted to have forged 50 others, possibly in collaboration with an unnamed painter and dealer.

The twist came late last week, after authorities requested that Lee confirm that the works were indeed counterfeits. Following a two-day inspection of the works, during which the artist looked over the pieces with a magnifying glass and compared them to catalogue records, he declared that he “found nothing wrong in all the 13 pieces. The use of color, rhythm and breathing are all mine.”

Lee Ufan’s statement directly contradicts the evidence against Hyeon, a 66-year-old gallery owner who confessed to selling three of the 13 works in question. (Other dealers have also been arrested.) The artist didn’t comment on findings by the National Forensic Service and civilian experts, which the police had used to support their contention that all three works were forged. Rather, he invoked some forensic evidence of his own—albeit a less scientific kind. “Breath and rhythm are like fingerprints, which no one can copy. A third person, however talented the person might be, can’t do exactly like the artist does,” he told Yonhap News.

The artist went so far as to imply that the police had encouraged him to confirm their assessment. “On June 27, police asked me to acknowledge that the four pieces that Mr. Hyeon admitted to having forged were indeed fakes in an attempt to reach a compromise,” Lee told reporters, “but I refused.” He also voiced concerns about how the authorities handled the investigation, criticizing their decision to consult him so late into the authentication process. “An artist has a responsibility and the right to view his paintings first. But they left me out in the investigation and came to a conclusion without consulting me,” he said.

Source: A Forger Confessed to Faking Millions in Lee Ufan Works—Now the Artist Says They’re Real

July 8th, 2016

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

Fake Monet, Renoir paintings cost dealer $31M and his reputation

By Derrick Bryson Taylor

Alex Komolov, the owner of the Alskom Gallery in Manhattan, is in the midst of a six-year legal battle against his former business colleagues for allegedly selling him more than $31 million worth of fake art. He’s seeking to recoup his money and restore his name.

In lawsuits obtained by Page Six, Komolov claims David Segal and Mohamed Serry tricked him into buying $30 million worth of fraudulent Monet, Vlaminck, Picasso and Manet paintings, among other antiques, between 2007 and 2009. Komolov purchased the works through his company High Value Trading and also claims Segal and Serry, owners of Artique Multinational, skipped out on paying $4.2 million for his New York City condo in 2007.

In a second suit, Komolov is targeting Universe Antiques owner Jack Shaoul for allegedly selling him a fraudulent Renoir painting in 2011 for $1.2 million.

At the time of sale, the men allegedly presented fraudulent certificates of authenticity to gain Komolov’s confidence. “Both paintings and certificates of authenticity are being forged with such technology that Picasso himself, if he could review his work, would not be able to tell the difference between real and fake,” Komolov’s attorney Phil Chronakis of law firm Budd Larner said. Once sold, Komolov had the works appraised by Art Experts Inc., a Florida-based company that specializes in appraisals, authentications and attributions. The company determined the pieces to be fake.

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A forged Claude Monet paintingPhoto: Art Experts Inc.

In total, close to 50 different works and other antique artifacts were sold to Komolov. And while the 72-year-old gallery owner may not be able to recover every penny he spent, his most pressing concern is restoring his reputation. He once gifted a Picasso painting to the president of Kazakhstan, his home country, only to learn it was a fake. He immediately told the president the painting was a forgery and apologized for the mishap.

“My client’s business has been damaged by going out of pocket $40 million to obtain items that are essentially worthless,” Chronakis added. “My client does a lot of business in Europe, specifically in Eastern Europe and now parts of Asia, he’s had a concern that this would affect his reputation, which is of course very valuable in business.”

Segal and Serry couldn’t be reached for comment and don’t have any criminal records. Shaoul, on the other hand, was convicted in 1993 on multiple counts of mail and wire fraud for filing bogus art insurance claims. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

When contacted by phone, Shaoul defended himself and blasted Komolov. “The guy is a crazy man,” Shaoul said. “He sued every antique dealer in the center, anybody he does business with, his partner. He’s a sue maniac. He’s been a dealer for 40 years. I’ve been a dealer for 40 years. He bought something from us. Three objects and one of them he wants to return, which we are willing to give him back his money. But he paid for the object $300,000, he says he paid $1.1 million and he made a fake bill, forged my signature, which is criminal. The guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

Komolov’s crisis manager Wendy Feldman vowed to do what she can to rescue her client’s image. “Alex is from the old school where your word was your bond,” Feldman said in a statement. “His image still remains very important to him and his gallery and will remain so. It is rare a person who would blow the whistle and spend millions more in legal fees to keep people out of business like David Segal and Mohamed Serry to protect the public. Jack Shaoul should have never been let back into the art world after serving time for a similar crime.”

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A forged Pierre-August Renoir paintingPhoto: Art Experts Inc.

The sale of forgeries is not uncommon in the art world, says Aviva Lehmann, Director of American Art, New York at Heritage Auctions. “It absolutely happens. You have to have eagle eyes, you have to really do your homework, do your due diligence,” Lehmann explained. “Inspect the work upside down, backwards, forwards, really talk to scholars in the field. It is very easy to have something dubious slip by.”

Though Lehmann says she hasn’t witnessed an uptick in the sale of fakes over the last 10 years, she’s aware of the active black market for such secret deals. “There is a black market for everything. I’ve seen it. There are black markets for artists that you have never even heard of that on a good day can sell for $50,000,” she said. “It’s extraordinary … I’ve seen fakes and forgeries of major masterworks in the eight-figure range. I’m not amazed by anything anymore.”

Komolov’s case against Shaoul heads to trial on Oct. 28 and papers are currently due to the appellate division in the case against Segal and Serry.

Source: Fake Monet, Renoir paintings cost dealer $31M and his reputation

July 8th, 2016

Posted In: fakes and forgeries