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Posted In: art fraud
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admin October 17th, 2011
PARIS — At least this much is clear: the art — 271 previously unknown sketches, watercolors and collages — is indeed the work of Picasso. But despite several weeks of accusations, counterclaims and deepening investigations, the mystery at the core of the case of Picasso and the electrician seems no closer to being solved.
Pierre Le Guennec, 71, a sickly retiree who did electrical work for the artist in the 1970s, says the works — worth an estimated $80 million — were a gift from his employer decades ago. Six relatives of Picasso suspect otherwise, and in September they filed a request for an investigation into whether the art had been stolen. Soon after, the police seized the works from Mr. Le Guennec’s home in Mouans-Sartoux, in the South of France.
A preliminary police investigation ensued; on Dec. 13 the case went to the next step when a magistrate in the area opened a judicial investigation to explore the possibility of “possession of stolen goods.” (No criminal charges have been filed.)
admin December 26th, 2010
admin November 24th, 2010
Skilled counterfeiter does not ask for payment for ‘masterful’ versions of works by Picasso, Signac and Daumier The fake copy of a watercolour boating scene by Paul Signac that was offered to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Museum curators are warning of a mysterious man posing as a Jesuit priest who is suspected of duping American institutions with brilliantly forged artworks over the past 20 years.
A picture is emerging of one of the most bizarre cases of deception in art history. Unlike other forgers, the “priest” does not ask for payment of any kind for his Picassos, Signacs and Daumiers which have been described as “masterful”. It seems the alleged fraudster simply enjoys fooling museum experts who have not only accepted his fakes as cherished gifts but invited him to “special donor events” in the belief that he has more to give.
Research by senior museum figures suggests he has targeted more than 30 museums so far and institutions across the United States are now being warned to look out for him. Whether he has visited British museums bearing gifts is unclear.
As the priest, he explains that he wants to give a work of art in memory of his late mother who came from wherever the museum is located. He tells them that, as a minister, he cannot keep it for himself.
He is also suspected of acting under two other aliases. Sometimes his story involves a donation in memory of his late father, whom he describes as having been a high-ranking military officer. Ceremoniously handing over his work to the grateful institution, he hints at other possible donations before making his exit.
A dossier on the forger has been produced by Matthew Leininger, director of museum services at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The unpublished report, seen by the Guardian, notes: “[The forger] pays his own air fare and hotels when travelling, but gets wined and dined by the institutions because he has told everyone that he has many more works in his collection and promises more work plus money. He also claims to have bad health and heart problems … ‘I’ll be back in touch for further gifts after I recover from heart surgery’. He is treated as royalty because people have believed they are getting great works and money.” Mr Leininger is now alerting the museum world to the deception.
One theory is that, like many forgers, this one is embittered by his struggles to find recognition under his own name. His fakes are described as so perfect that most cannot be detected without high magnification. In addition, their “authenticity” is boosted by fake documents, including auction house catalogue entries.
Leininger believes the “donations” go back to at least 1987. He first encountered the forger while working at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, which was offered a watercolour boating scene by “Paul Signac”. According to the dossier, research eventually unmasked it as a fake, along with another “Signac” at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. A genuine Signac from which the latter forgery was copied is in the Hermitage in St Petersburg.
Most recently, the forger donated a work to the Hilliard University Art Museum at the University of Louisiana. When the museum’s director, Mark Tullos Jr, looked more closely at the painting, supposedly by the American impressionist Charles Courtney Curran, doubts were raised. Scrutiny under a black light revealed telltale signs of bleach found in most contemporary papers and linens.
Tullos is also circulating warnings: “We were contacted by a man posing as a Jesuit priest … we have reported him to the federal authorities.”
Asked how the forger had been able to continue operating for so long, Tullos said institutions that accepted the works into their collections were “a little bit embarrassed to disclose that this happened”.
Commenting on whether there were likely to be many forgeries on museum walls, he added: “There have got to be more out there.”
admin November 18th, 2010
Shoppers in Flip-Flops Drop $245,000 on Salander Home Leftovers
By Philip Boroff – Mon Jul 26 14:54:50 UTC 2010
“Foothills Sunset,” by Lawrence Salander. The work, with other property from the former art dealer’s home in Millbrook, New York, was auctioned by Stair Galleries on July 24, 2010. The work sold for $425. Source: Stair Galleries via Bloomberg
A Massachusetts Chippendale bureau of mahogany wood. The piece, with other property from the Millbrook, New York, home of art dealer Lawrence Salander, was auctioned at Stair Galleries on July 24. The item sold for $6,500. Source: Stair Galleries via Bloomberg
“Benny Breaking Sky,” by art dealer Lawrence Salander. The work, with other property from Salander’s home in Millbrook, New York, was auctioned by Stair Galleries on July 24, 2010. The work sold for $475. Source: Stair Galleries via Bloomberg
Art dealer Lawrence Salander. Salander, 61, is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 3, five and a half months after he pleaded guilty to stealing $120 million from clients and investors. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg
The driveway leading to the Salander house at Deep Hollow Farm is shown in Millbrook, New York. The contents of his Millbrook, New York, home were liquidated in an oddly festive auction. Photographer: Lindsay Pollock/Bloomberg
Ten days before art dealer Lawrence Salander is scheduled be sentenced to prison for fraud and grand larceny, the contents of his Millbrook, New York, home were liquidated in an oddly festive auction.
Weekenders competed against antique dealers at Stair Galleries, in Hudson, New York, 115 miles north of Manhattan, on Saturday. Just two of 251 lots didn’t sell. The $245,000 total easily topped Stair’s high pre-sale estimate of $148,000.
The three-hour affair, replete with complimentary bagels and sandwiches, was to benefit creditors of Salander’s personal bankruptcy case.
Most items generated multiple bids, but it’s unclear how prices compared with what Salander paid in the international shopping spree that preceded his collapse.
The two top lots were a black Steinway baby grand piano and a large Chinese decorative vase, each for $10,000. (All prices exclude the 15 percent buyer’s commission, or 17 percent when paying by credit card.)
“I’m thrilled,” said Thomas Genova, the trustee overseeing Salander’s personal bankruptcy. “It was a great sale.”
Bidders at the second-floor salesroom wore shorts, running sneakers, flip-flops, madras shirts and oversized summer hats.
Canines in tow largely got along, including a greyhound, Labrador, Irish terrier and Stair’s resident bullmastiff, Duke. Colin Stair, Stair Galleries’ president, said there were several telephone bidders in Europe.
Additional sales are likely. Although Salander and his Salander-O’Reilly Galleries filed for bankruptcy in November 2007 amid a cascade of lawsuits, more than 2,000 artworks recovered from the now-defunct Upper East Side gallery remain unsold. And Genova is in talks with mortgage holders First Republic Bank and Wells Fargo & Co.’s Wachovia unit about a September auction of Salander’s 66-acre Millbrook home, which has been listed for sale at $4.5 million.
Salander, 61, has been living in an apartment over a gallery he operates in Millbrook.
The first lot on Saturday went to Tracie Rozhon, a former New York Times reporter, who a day earlier closed on a house with her husband in Albany. She paid $425 for a pair of Ming- style celadon vase lamps, but was stymied when she pursued a Herend porcelain dinner set.
“It was estimated at $150 to $200,” she said. “I got outbid at $2,000.”
Candlesticks known as pricket sticks were also hot. A pair of Italian baroque brass ones went for $2,500. Another pair sold for $2,800.
“Who knew pricket sticks were so popular?” said Stair auctioneer Rebecca Hoffmann, in an interview. “It was just hilarious after a while.”
Paintings that Salander created also attracted fierce bidding, with a 2008 portrait of one his former bankruptcy lawyers (“Johnny Moscow Truth Defender”) selling for $500 and the 1999 landscape “Top of the Mountain” going for $800.
Ron Gersten, who worked for Salander in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said the dealer told him in a recent telephone conversation that Michelangelo may have been behind some of the pricket sticks. Gersten said Salander also thought that Donatello may have created a plaster Madonna and Child that Gersten bought for $6,500 at the sale. (The Stair catalog doesn’t attribute either to any artist.)
Salander declared bankruptcy amid lawsuits alleging that he sold works he didn’t own and pocketed proceeds. There were also allegations that he misrepresented the provenance of works and engaged in fraudulent art-related investment schemes.
In March 2010, he pleaded guilty to stealing $120 million from such clients as John McEnroe and Robert De Niro. He’s to be sentenced on Aug. 3.
To contact the reporter on this story: Philip Boroff in New York at email@example.com.
admin July 27th, 2010