Forging Papers to Sell Fake Art

Spoutz’s scam was straightforward but well executed. He contacted art galleries or auction houses and offered for sale previously unknown works by artists such as American abstract impressionists Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Joan Mitchell. The art did not appear in any catalogs or collections of the artists’ known works, said Special Agent Christopher McKeogh from the FBI’s Art Crime Team in our New York Field Office.

“He was selling lower-level works by known artists,” explained McKeoogh, who worked the case for more than three years with fellow agent Meridith Savona and forensic accountant Maria Font. “If it’s a direct copy of a real one, the real one is going to be out there and the fraud would be discovered.”

Before paying thousands of dollars for works of art, collectors and brokers want assurance the work is real—especially if the work is previously unknown, McKeogh said. Among other things, they look at the provenance—the paper history of an item that traces its ownership back to the original artist—for proof.

Spoutz, who also owned a legitimate art gallery, understood the value of provenance. He forged receipts, bills of sale, letters from dead attorneys, and other documents. Some of the letters dated back decades and looked authentic, referencing real people who worked at real galleries or law firms. Spoutz also used a vintage typewriter and old paper for his documentation.

The old typewriter turned out to be the smoking gun in the case. “We could tell all of these letters had been typed on the same typewriter,” McKeogh said. The type of a letter allegedly sent from a business in the 1950s matched the type in a letter allegedly sent by a firm in a different state three decades later. Spoutz also mistakenly added a ZIP Code to the letterhead of a firm on a letter dated four years before ZIP Codes were created.

Another red flag was that many of the people referenced in the letters were dead. And some of the addresses were in the middle of an intersection, or didn’t exist at all. “All these dead ends helped prove a fraud was being committed,” McKeogh said.

When marketing his fakes, Spoutz stopped just short of saying the works were authentic. “He tried to give himself an out and said they were ‘attributed to’ an artist,” McKeogh said.

Spoutz used sellers all over the country to move his forgeries, some of them fetching more than $30,000. “He looked for people that were not as familiar with a particular artist. Spoutz came across as very scholarly and knowledgeable,” McKeogh said.

He also used a number of aliases in the roughly 10 years he ran his scam, and he moved around, from Michigan to Florida to California. He changed the scam over time, selling the works of one artist, then switching to a different artist using a different alias. He was arrested in Los Angeles and charged in February 2016, and pleaded guilty to a single charge of wire fraud in June.

Spoutz produced the fake provenance, but not the fake art. “Spoutz was not known as an artist. He had a source he kept going back to,” McKeogh said. The FBI used experts in the field and artist foundations to determine the works Spoutz sold were forgeries.

Many of the fakes passed through auction houses in New York City, McKeogh said, and a suspicious victim eventually contacted the FBI. McKeogh inherited the case about three years ago, when another agent retired.

Although Spoutz has been sentenced, McKeogh and Savona do not believe they have seen the last of the fakes he peddled. The FBI recovered about 40 forgeries; there could be hundreds more that were sold to unsuspecting victims. “This is a case we’re going to be dealing with for years. Spoutz was a mill,” McKeogh said.

Protecting the integrity of America’s art—in all its forms—is a special priority for the FBI and our dedicated Art Crime Team. “It’s our heritage; it’s who we are. We have to protect it,” McKeogh says. “Fake art and fraud schemes like this damage that heritage.”

Source: Forged Provenance — FBI

April 11th, 2017

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August 8th, 2011

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Fakes in the frame as artist fights back in court

• Chip le Grand

TOM Lowenstein has been chasing bodgie Blackmans for 10 years. Yesterday, for the first time, a Supreme Court judge declared two  charcoal drawings carrying the name of the ageing master to be fakes. According to Mr Lowenstein, there are others out there.

According to Mr Lowenstein, there are others out there.

“It is not an epidemic but there are quite a number, and I think it is wrong for a person not to feel safe that when he goes a Blackman that it is  actually a Blackman,” said Mr Lowenstein, the artist’s legal and financial adviser.

“You have got to follow the provenance. If someone says I got it from this fellow in the pub or I bought it on the internet, there is no guarantee that is a genuine work.”

Judge Peter Vickery yesterday said he had “no doubt” that two drawings valued as Blackman originals and a third work sold under the name of Blackman’s fellow “Antipodean” Robert Dickerson were forgeries.

In delivering a judgment in a civil case brought by Blackman against art dealer Peter Gant, Justice Vickery found Mr Gant breached the Fair Trading Act by engaging in conduct that was misleading or deceptive.

However, the judge did not award damages against Mr Gant, ruling there was no evidence the breach was not “innocent”.

Justice Vickery ordered the drawings to be handed over to the artists and destroyed within seven days.

“I am left in no doubt that the two works claimed to be by Charles Blackman, Street Scene with Schoolgirls and Three Schoolgirls, and the one work claimed to be by Robert Dickerson, Pensive Woman, were not by the hands of those artists,” the judge said.

The three works were bought by Melbourne businessman Robert Blanche. Mr Gant, a gallery owner and art valuer who trades as “Gallery Irascible — Peter Gant Fine Art”, sold the the fake Dickerson to Mr Blanche for $10,800 in 2005.

The following year, he valued the fake Blackmans, bought by Mr Blanche in 1999, as being worth a combined $22,000.

Doubts about the drawings first arose in 2008 when Mr Blanche invited Walter Granek, an expert in Blackman’s work, to view his collection. As soon as Mr Granek saw the Blackmans, he declared them poor fakes.

Mr Gant maintained the works were genuine but declined to give evidence in the case and called no witnesses.

Dickerson said the forgery of his work made him look stupid “because it is a very bad drawing, it looks incredibly bad”.

Blackman was unable to give evidence but Mr Lowenstein told the trial that fake Blackmans were “highly detrimental” to the artist’s legacy in Australian art and reduced the value of genuine Blackmans on the market.

June 2nd, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries, forgery

Upcoming lectures focus on looted, forged art
Story Discussion Staff report | Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 1:45 am | (0) Comments
Font Size: Default font size Larger font size The Hyde Collection is taking a look at the darker side of art.

On Sunday, the museum will offer two lectures by art historian Evie Joselow – “Nazi Art Looting: Tales of Discovery” and “Forgers and Fakes: Studies in Art and Character” – as the opening events in the spring series “Stolen, Forged and Fake!”

The first lecture, which begins at noon, will focus on the greatest theft of art in 20th-century history, carried out by the Nazis in Germany from 1933 through the end of World War II.

While the facts about Nazi art looting have remained largely unknown, this illustrated presentation and lecture will unravel some of the hidden mysteries of Nazi art theft. It also will offer a unique perspective on the study and understanding of Nazi policies, concepts and methods by presenting personal family stories related to the looted art and inextricably linked to the tragic period in history.

The second talk, scheduled for 2 p.m., will delve into the practices and motivations of the world’s most infamous forgers. Joselow will share insights into the forgers’ economic and psychological motivations, revealing their individual quirks and character traits.

Joselow, an independent art historian, appraiser and lecturer, teaches design history and architectural history at the New York School of Interior Design, Pratt Institute, and New York University. She has also served as the Chief of Research at the Commission for Art Recovery.

The two lectures, funded by New York Council for the Humanities, are free to members. The suggested donation for all others is $5 and includes admission to the current Regional Juried High School Art Exhibition in the Charles R. Wood Gallery.

The museum is at 161 Warren St. in Glens Falls.

For more information or to make a reservation for one or both talks, contact Sara Boivin, director of education at The Hyde Collection, at 792-1761, Ext. 27, or by e-mail at sboivin@hydecollec

April 21st, 2010

Posted In: forgery

Mexico: Fakes dominate seized artifact collection

April 15, 2010 – 9:25pm

MEXICO CITY (AP) – A collection of supposed pre-Hispanic artifacts seized from a controversial private antiquities dealer in Germany contains many pieces that are fake, Mexico’s government archaeology agency said Thursday.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said most of the larger, impressive pieces seized by German authorities from Costa Rican dealer Leonardo Patterson are modern copies of ancient artifacts.

The institute said experts who examined the collection of 1,029 sculptures, pots and figurines had determined 252 are fakes.

“Several of the forged pieces, in fact, evidence the use of modern machinery and tools while being assembled,” the statement said.

An additional 691 pieces “are authentic and originate from Mexico’s current territory,” apparently making them eligible for return to Mexico. The remaining 86 were not from the Meso-American region, according to a statement by the institute.

Academics say Patterson built a reputation over the course of decades _ and across several continents _ for trading and displaying artifacts of dubious provenance.

In 2008, Munich police seized more than 1,000 purported Aztec, Maya, Olmec and Inca antiquities from Patterson after an international investigation and a chase across Europe.

At the time, Mexico, Peru and Costa Rica said some of the pieces in the exhibit _ valued by investigators at more than 74 million euros (US$100 million) _ were stolen and were trying to get them back.

In a 2008 interview, Patterson maintained he had done nothing illegal and said he assembled the exhibit from several private collectors.

Among the false objects are several large piecest, such as an Olmec head statue, a carving of a reclining pre-Hispanic deity known as a “chac mool,” and bas-reliefs carvings, columns, masks, and mural fragments.

The genuine pieces include animal and human figurines, pots, incense burners, jewelry, and weapon and knife points.

Experts had long claimed Patterson’s exhibits and collection contained some fakes, mixed with some apparently real pieces.

The statement did not say whether the genuine artifacts would be returned to Mexico. It said only that Mexican government agencies “will continue working together to recover this heritage, resorting to all legal procedures and authorities concerned with this case.”
(Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
MEXICO CITY (AP) – A collection of supposed pre-Hispanic artifacts seized from a controversial private antiquities dealer in Germany contains many pieces that are fake, Mexico’s government archaeology agency said Thursday.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said most of the larger, impressive pieces seized by German authorities from Costa Rican dealer Leonardo Patterson are modern copies of ancient artifacts.

The institute said experts who examined the collection of 1,029 sculptures, pots and figurines had determined 252 are fakes.

“Several of the forged pieces, in fact, evidence the use of modern machinery and tools while being assembled,” the statement said.

An additional 691 pieces “are authentic and originate from Mexico’s current territory,” apparently making them eligible for return to Mexico. The remaining 86 were not from the Meso-American region, according to a statement by the institute.

Academics say Patterson built a reputation over the course of decades _ and across several continents _ for trading and displaying artifacts of dubious provenance.

In 2008, Munich police seized more than 1,000 purported Aztec, Maya, Olmec and Inca antiquities from Patterson after an international investigation and a chase across Europe.

At the time, Mexico, Peru and Costa Rica said some of the pieces in the exhibit _ valued by investigators at more than 74 million euros (US$100 million) _ were stolen and were trying to get them back.

In a 2008 interview, Patterson maintained he had done nothing illegal and said he assembled the exhibit from several private collectors.

Among the false objects are several large piecest, such as an Olmec head statue, a carving of a reclining pre-Hispanic deity known as a “chac mool,” and bas-reliefs carvings, columns, masks, and mural fragments.

The genuine pieces include animal and human figurines, pots, incense burners, jewelry, and weapon and knife points.

Experts had long claimed Patterson’s exhibits and collection contained some fakes, mixed with some apparently real pieces.

The statement did not say whether the genuine artifacts would be returned to Mexico. It said only that Mexican government agencies “will continue working together to recover this heritage, resorting to all legal procedures and authorities concerned with this case.”
(Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

April 21st, 2010

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April 17th, 2010

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January 22nd, 2010

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November 18th, 2009

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Fake certificates fuel art mart fraud

When the art mart was still hot and there were as many fakes as there were originals, the only way one could be sure that one was not shelling out a small fortune to be landed with a dud was to obtain an authenticity certificate for a fee from an “expert”. That meant anyone who has written on art or has rubbed shoulders with artists, but not necessarily with the right academic qualifications. Now, even authenticity certificates are being counterfeited.

About a week ago, gallerist Vikram Bachhawat was offered a “Ganesh Pyne” along with an authenticity certificate by a well-known Calcutta art critic. Bachhawat was told that the certificate was obtained a few days ago, although the “expert” was visiting the US at that time. The broker was not prepared for this eventuality.

According to Bachhawat, the local market in fakes would be about Rs 1.5 crore, against Rs 35 crore across India.

Photoshop and other image-editing software have made it easier for signatures to be forged. The original certificate is scanned and only the painting on it is changed and substituted with another work, arguably fake — for unless a work is authenticated by the artist himself, his family or a reputable gallery there is always a shadow of doubt about its genuineness.

“Experts” authenticate a work for anything between Rs 3,000 and Rs 50,000, depending on the importance of the artist, and if the verdict is positive, one is able to pocket the fee. With better reproductions of paintings in books, it is easier to replicate works in demand. Prakash Karmakar, Sunil Das, Swaminathan, Jamini Roy, M.F. Husain and Souza clones proliferate.

Pyne says the business of churning out fakes has gone beyond control. “I spoke to a police officer about the problem of counterfeit paintings and he said the police could do nothing about it as ‘highly connected people’ were involved,” says the artist, whose works are tough to imitate.

Paritosh Sen’s widow, Jayashree, says recently some artists wanted her to certify that their works were copies of original Paritosh Sen paintings. “But some artists known to me cautioned me against it,” she added. Ever since his death last year, fakes of his works have been in circulation.

Artist Aditya Basak says some time ago, a Delhi gallerist was offered a “Ramkinkar sculpture” by a broker along with an authentication certificate without a photograph, but when the “expert” concerned was cross-checked he said the document was meant for another work.

The Internet has facilitated the business of fake art via email. Gallerist Abhijit Lath says: “I often get an image of a painting and an image of an authenticity certificate, usually signed by a dead artist like Paritosh Sen. I received such emails a couple of times last month from various sources. Fakes made in Calcutta like the Paritosh Sen paintings are sold elsewhere. Here they will be caught out immediately.”

If Lath has doubts about a work’s authenticity, he calls it “a fake” straightaway. “That is one way of getting out of the loop. Even if proved a fake one cannot take a painting out of the market. I would rather depend on my own experience.”

Fakes comprise at least a tenth of the real market, he asserts. Lath prescribes thorough scrutiny of a work, including its provenance, as the only safeguards against buying a fake. One should first demand to see the original. Next it should be checked by an expert in that particular artist’s work. Most reputable galleries would know where to get a work authenticated.

To be sure of the work’s provenance, “it should be written on a stamp paper which one should get notarised stating that it is not a stolen good, and that it has been in one’s family for a certain number of years. One can never trust an unfamiliar source,” said Lath.


No specific rules. Depend on an experienced eye. Technique, lines, signature and age of work are other indicators
Bikash Bhattacharjee mostly used oil. One becomes suspicious if it is an acrylic

Ganesh Pyne uses tempera, watercolour and crayons. But an oil painting by Pyne is a no-no

Jogen Chowdhury’s strong point are his lines. In a fake the lines will lack the power of the original

To find out if a canvas has been aged artificially, put it to the soap and water test. If a canvas is really old, its patina cannot be cleaned with soap and water

The safest bet is buying art from a reputable gallerist

November 9th, 2009

Posted In: forgery, Mailing list reports


FBI investigates forgery claims against La. couple


BATON ROUGE, La. — The old man’s sales pitch sounded plausible enough to art collector Don Fuson. The warning signs didn’t appear until after Fuson paid him $30,000 for what he thought were paintings by renowned folk artist Clementine Hunter.

By the time the FBI got involved, Fuson didn’t need the agents to tell him what he already suspected: The paintings appeared to be forgeries.

The FBI is investigating allegations that William Toye, 78, and his wife Beryl Ann, 68, have been selling forged paintings to unsuspecting art collectors and dealers since the 1970s. William Toye was arrested in the ’70s on a charge of forging Hunter’s work, but was never prosecuted.

“We can all be fooled, and this man fooled me,” Fuson said. “I gave him the benefit of the doubt at every turn, and that’s not normally me.”

Some of the collectors and dealers who purchased paintings from the Toyes say the biggest victim would be Hunter, who died in 1988 at age 101.

The black folk artist taught herself to paint while living in Louisiana’s rural Natchitoches Parish. Her paintings — believed to number in the thousands — depict cotton picking, baptisms, funerals and other scenes of plantation life. Since her death, paintings that once fetched several hundred dollars now routinely sell for thousands.

No new charges have been filed against the Toyes since the FBI opened its investigation, but court records show that agents searched their Baton Rouge home on Sept. 30 and seized artwork and other items.

In court papers, an FBI agent said he interviewed Fuson and three other people who paid the Toyes nearly $100,000 for more than 40 paintings that appear to be Hunter forgeries. The FBI says the couple knew they were fakes.

The FBI’s probe has expanded beyond Louisiana. In January, an FBI agent took photographs of Hunter paintings at the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota. The paintings were a gift from a donor who had lived in the area. Lyndel King, the Weisman’s director, said FBI Special Agent Randolph Deaton IV informed the museum in March that five of its 38 Hunter paintings may be forgeries.

During an interview at their home this week, the Toyes denied creating or selling any forgeries.

“Once they leave our hands, we have no control over what happens to them,” Beryl Ann Toye said. “We had the real ones, and everyone else was faking them.”

The Toyes said FBI agents seized records that can prove their innocence.

“I didn’t confess anything because I didn’t do anything,” William Toye said.

The couple also is suspected of using an intermediary, Robert Edwin Lucky Jr., to sell forged paintings, Deaton wrote in court documents. Lucky told the FBI he met the Toyes about 10 years ago and has sold up to 100 paintings he obtained from them.

The FBI said Lucky learned from experts in Hunter’s works that the Toyes’ paintings were forgeries but continued to sell them, an allegation Lucky denies.

“I never sold a painting that I thought was a forgery,” he said.

Fuson wasn’t an avid Hunter collector when William Toye visited his Baton Rouge store in November 2005. But he agreed to buy a few paintings after hearing Toye’s story: His wife started buying paintings from Hunter in the 1960s. Their collection survived Hurricane Katrina, but the couple wanted to sell them after moving from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

“The story read right to me. Nothing seemed wrong,” he recalled.

Fuson found it strange that Toye kept changing his telephone number, but that didn’t stop him from buying more paintings. It wasn’t until February 2006 that Fuson heard from other buyers that Toye was suspected of selling forgeries.

Fuson confronted the Toyes and asked for documentation that the paintings were authentic. He said Beryl Ann Toye then accused Fuson of forging the paintings.

The FBI took photos of paintings Fuson bought and showed them to an expert on Hunter’s work, who said they appeared to be forgeries.

Shannon Foley, a New Orleans art dealer, bought 19 paintings from the Toyes for $44,500. The expert consulted by the FBI said her paintings also appeared to be fake.

Foley, who has sued the Toyes, was reluctant to publicly discuss her story.

“Dealers don’t want to have their name associated with forgeries, but there were a lot of other reputable dealers who bought these paintings, too,” she said.

Beryl Ann Toye said FBI agents accused her of painting the forgeries, a claim she denies.

“They have no proof,” she said.

October 30th, 2009

Posted In: forgery, Mailing list reports



Forgers have been duping the art world for generations, but advances in computer technology may sound the death knell of this illicit industry — and, at the same time, make it easier for collectors of major artworks to know if they are getting what they pay so handsomely for. Eric Postma, a professor of artificial intelligence at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and an expert on the digital analysis of works by Vincent Van Gogh, explains the new technology and why more museums and private buyers should open up their collections to computer scientists.

Q. According to industry estimates, forgeries may account for 10 percent to 50 percent of art for sale on the international market. Which figure is closer to reality?

A. My impression is biased because of the many individuals who have approached me over the years, convinced they own genuine Van Gogh paintings. I estimate that around 99 percent of these paintings are fake or misattributed.

I strongly suspect that the number of forgeries uncovered and publicized each year is just the tip of a very large iceberg. Within the museum world there are two classes of paintings: established works and doubted works. In the first class the majority will be authentic, with perhaps 1 percent forged. In the second class the number of fakes, or misattributions, is much greater — typically, between 50 percent and 80 percent. These figures have not changed much over the years.

Q. Auction houses and art dealers would seem to be the first line of defense in identifying and combating fraud. What steps do they take, and is it enough?

A. Independent art historians will do everything in their power to ensure a work is authentic. However, where price is a motivating factor, subjective judgments can become easily clouded. I firmly believe that auction houses could be doing more to protect client interests by having a more open attitude toward innovations that may help to establish authenticity.

Q. The new techniques are based on computer technology. How can they help distinguish between a fake and the genuine article?

A. An important clue in identifying the artist’s style is the configuration of the brush strokes. Our software is able to break down these brush strokes to find a complex pattern unique to every artist. That is just one of many algorithms we use. We also look at pigment and canvas weave.

Working in cooperation with the Van Gogh Museum and the Kröller-Müller Museum, both located in the Netherlands, we have been able to demonstrate the accuracy of digital analysis. A painting depicting the sea at Saintes-Maries, a Van Gogh fake sold by the German art dealer Otto Wacker, fooled experts for years, but our software easily identified the work as suspect. It had too many prominent brush strokes.

Our methodology was also tested on a U.S. television show, “Nova Science,” where we were easily able to distinguish one fake Van Gogh painting from five genuine works by the artist.

Q. Will digital analysis work on all paintings?

A. We are currently analyzing the works of Rubens, Monet and Gauguin. Provided we have a large enough database of paintings to work from, I see no reason why we could not apply our methods to Old Masters and modern works of art alike.

I was recently asked if we could tell whether a “drip” painting by Jackson Pollock was authentic. Clearly there are no brush strokes to work from here, but Richard Taylor at the University of Oregon performed a fractal analysis of Pollock’s paintings using computer algorithms and succeeded in demonstrating how these algorithms could distinguish a true Pollock from a forgery.

A few artists present challenges. When we started our analysis in 2000, we had trouble authenticating the works of Rembrandt because his paintings are dark and the brush strokes difficult to identify. Technology has improved since then and the digital images that we work from are of a much higher quality.

Ultimately, we would like to come up with an algorithm that goes beyond brush strokes and captures the visual structure of a painting. One art historian refers to the “visual rhythm” of Van Gogh. If we could capture the visual rhythm and other artist-specific features in a software package, it would make the work of art historians much easier.

Q. Despite its advantages in identifying some forgeries, digital analysis is still not widely accepted by the art world. What are the obstacles, and how do you think they can be overcome?

A. We enjoy support from museums in the Netherlands and the United States, but many art historians are still suspicious of our techniques. This is understandable because our algorithms are still being developed. We do not have all the answers, but working together historians and computer scientists would make a formidable team.

We also need to enlarge our database of paintings if we are to offer a full service. I would like to do more work on some of the modern artists, such as Picasso, but many collectors are reluctant to have their expensive works of art held up to scrutiny. Unless we can persuade collectors that it is in the interests of the art world to compile a digitized database of genuine and fake art work, the forgers will always be ahead of the curve.

October 30th, 2009

Posted In: forgery

A former Stockholm art gallery owner has been charged with a 30 million kronor ($4.4 million) art forgery scam. The name of the dealer in question was not given, but he is accused of faking works by some heavyweight modernists, including Georges Braque, Alberto Giacometti, Edward Munch and Egon Schiele. Police claim that they found 15 forged works when they searched his house, and that he sold the fakes with forged certificates of authenticity from Sweden’s National Museum of Fine Arts. Authorities also say that the alleged forger secured a 200,000 kronor ($28,500) loan using a fake Braque painting as collateral, and attempted to sell “falsely signed” works by Viktor Vasarely through the website

October 8th, 2009

Posted In: forgery, Mailing list reports


The FBI has seized a well-traveled forgery of a 1939 Andrew Wyeth watercolor, the fourth such counterfeit painting to surface since the artist’s death in January.

U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss of Wilmington said that the same fake has been offered for sale several times since 1998, even after the artist himself declared it a rank forgery.

Weiss announced the seizure today with the national FBI Art Crime Team to spotlight the risks involved in buying art. Fraud and forgery are two of the leading tenets of art crime, which the FBI says is a $6 billion industry worldwide.

Weiss said the person trying to sell the painting would not be charged because he too had been fooled and did not know it was counterfeit.

“Unless you take these forgeries and drive a stake in them and then burn them, they keep circulating,” said Ronald D. Spencer, a New York lawyer who edited a 2004 collection of essays on fake art, The Expert Versus The Object. “Stolen art always makes newspaper headlines but it’s not as prevalent a problem as forgery because stolen art is harder to resell.”

The genuine rendering of the Wyeth painting, Wreck on Doughnut Point, is worth at least $100,000. It portrays three men studying a shipwreck, images captured in the artist’s familiar muted tones – in this case, brown, gray and purple.

The forgery, rejected by Wyeth in 1998, sold for $20,000 to a California collector in 2000 and was offered again for sale last year by a Texas auction house.

To try to authenticate the painting, the auctioneer approached the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, where it was viewed by Wyeth collection manager Mary Landa. She instantly recognized it as the same forgery that she and Wyeth had spotted a decade earlier.

“It was indeed a watercolor and it was signed Andrew Wyeth but it was not his signature,” Landa said yesterday. “It was an exact copy, with all the little squiggles, every figure in it was the same. But it was clear that it was very stiff and didn’t flow like Andrew Wyeth’s work.”

This was the fourth fake Wyeth work to surface since the artist’s death at age 91 in January, she said.

Worried that the counterfeit would continue to circulate, Landa contacted FBI agent Peter Gangel and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hall, the Wilmington-based federal prosecutor who handles Art Crime Team cases nationwide.

“We want to try to nip this kind of crime in the bud because it’s common for it to pick up after an artist dies and is now unable to authenticate his work,” Hall said. “A prolific artist like Andrew Wyeth produced so much art that it’s difficult for any one person to have a mental catalog of all his works. When collectors buy something that they think is real but is not, they undermine the legacy of the artist.”

Spencer, the art forgery expert, agreed. “Fakes are most insidious for the artists themselves,” he said. “After all, most of what we know about an artist comes from his work.”

October 1st, 2009

Posted In: forgery, Mailing list reports


Suspected Forgery of 1,200 Frida Kahlo Works Reported

MEXICO CITY – Representatives of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Trust filed a criminal suit on Tuesday for the forgery of 1,200 Kahlo works of art that appear in two books recently published in Mexico and the United States.

“Most of them appear not to be by the artist, because connoisseurs of the artist’s works have said so,” attorney Jose Luis Perez Arredondo told reporters.

The trust charged with protecting the legacy of Kahlo (1907-1954) and her husband functions under the auspices of Mexico’s central bank.

The complaint was filed at the Attorney General’s Office, where members of the press met with experts on the artist’s work and personnel of the Anahuacalli Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo museums.

Perez Arredondo said that the trust’s technical committee decided to file the complaint after hearing the opinion of several experts on the supposed work of Frida reproduced in the publications “Finding Frida Kahlo” and “El Laberinto de Frida: Muerte, Dolor y Ambivalencia” (Frida’s Labyrinth: Death, Pain and Ambivalence) containing illustrated letters, drawings and personal notes.

“We’re not making personal accusations nor are we judging conduct. That is the subject of the lawsuit,” the lawyer said.

At the end of last month, Mexican antique dealers Carlos Noloya and Leticia Fernandez presented the 1,200 works as authentic, while admitting that they were very different from other pictorial works left by the artist.

A 1984 decree in Mexico established that every Kahlo work of art is a national artistic monument, which gives it the protection of federal law and considers any reproduction or sale of such a piece to be for the benefit of the public.

Arredondo believed that now it will be the AG office that must determine whether the works are genuine or not, as well as finding out who the owners are and the possible responsibilities they might have in the possible selling of the objects.

The painter Pedro Diego Alvarado, grandson of Diego Rivera (1886-1957), said that “what is said in the letters (that appear in one of the books) has no relationship with Frida’s universe,” which aroused suspicions that they might be fake.

U.S. art critic and historian James Oles acknowledged that he has not seen the objects personally but said that as they appear in the publications, they appear to be “forgeries done recently with old materials.”

He also said it was incredible that no one at all knew that Frida gave away a “lost archive” containing the wprks in question, that she handed them over to a supposed picture framer, now dead, or that they finally ended up belonging to Noloya. EFE

September 24th, 2009

Posted In: forgery

Antiquities Authority chief: Top scholars were suspected of ties to forgery group

Sep. 8, 2009

MATTHEW KALMAN, Special to The Jerusalem Post , THE JERUSALEM POST

A world-famous French scholar who authenticated one of the Israel Museum’s prize exhibits and Israel’s leading analyst of ancient semitic inscriptions were once suspected of being part of an “international forgery industry,” it was revealed on Tuesday.

 Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that both Prof. Andre Lemaire of the Sorbonne and Ada Yardeni, Israel’s leading epigrapher, had been under suspicion as the Authority prepared its case against those accused of faking dozens of priceless archeological items, including a burial box possibly connected to Jesus.

 Dorfman divulged this information as part of the testimony he was giving at the Jerusalem District Court in the long-running trial of two men accused of dealing in fake antiquities.

 The trial, which began in 2005, followed an indictment that Dorfman described at the time as “the tip of the iceberg” of an international forgery network.

 Oded Golan, a Tel Aviv collector, is charged with forging the inscription on a 60 cm.-long limestone burial box, or ossuary, that reads “James son of Joseph brother of Jesus.”

 The ossuary was exhibited in Toronto in 2002 and hailed by scholars as the first physical link ever discovered to the family of Jesus. But when it was returned to Israel, an Antiquities Authority committee of experts determined it was fake.

 Golan is also accused of forging an inscribed stone tablet supposedly from the First Temple, and dozens of other ancient items.

 Robert Deutsch, a prominent antiquities dealer based in Jaffa, was also charged with forgery, but the prosecution has been forced to retract many of the original charges after they were challenged in court.

 Many of the world’s top archeological experts have testified as both prosecution and defense witnesses in proceedings that already run to more than 9,000 pages.

 Judge Aharon Farkash has wondered aloud in court how he could determine the authenticity of the items if the professors could not agree among themselves.

 Deutsch called Dorfman to give evidence as a defense witness after the prosecution refused to put him or his deputy, Uzi Dahari, on the stand.

 Dorfman said the anti-theft unit of the Antiquities Authority believed the items were forged by an international group of experts and dealers that included the two defendants.

 He said the suspects at one time included Prof. Lemaire, a paleographer at the Sorbonne in Paris.

 Lemaire was the first scholar to study an ivory pomegranate believed to have been used in the First Temple. The thumb-sized pomegranate is inscribed in ancient Hebrew: “Sacred donation for the priests in the House of God.”

 It was purchased nearly 20 years ago by a private philanthropist for $550,000 and donated to the Israel Museum after its authenticity was verified by experts.

 Lemaire said he discovered the item in 1979 when an antiquities dealer in the Old City of Jerusalem showed him the tiny ornament over a cup of tea.

 Lemaire photographed it and published his findings two years later in the respected Revue Biblique journal. In 1984, he published his findings in English, triggering worldwide interest.

 In 2002, Lemaire published the first study of the James ossuary in the Biblical Archeology Review after seeing the burial box at the home of Oded Golan.

 The pomegranate was later inspected and the inscription on it found to be suspect by a separate Antiquities Authority inquiry. Dorfman told the court they decided not to bring criminal charges against eight suspects identified in that case.

 Lemaire was questioned by Antiquities Authority inspectors during a two-year investigation, but apparently was never told that he was under suspicion.

 Under questioning by Deutsch’s attorney, Hagai Sitton, Dorfman was challenged to justify the sweeping statements he made at a press conference in December 2005, the day the defendants were charged.

 “We know there are antiquity forgeries – it’s not a new thing. But the extent and the drama in attempting to fake history didn’t allow us as a government body not to become involved,” Dorfman told the press conference.

 “I believe we have revealed only the tip of the iceberg. This industry encircles the world, involves millions of dollars,” he said.

 “I said there was an industry involved in making all these fakes,” Dorfman told the court on Tuesday. “In my view, it looked like an entire industry, not a single forger.”

 Dorfman said he took responsibility for the prosecution, which has run into difficulties as the trial has wound on, but Dorfman himself cast doubt on the reliability of much of the testimony of the prosecution’s star witness, billionaire antiquities collector Shlomo Moussaieff. According to the indictment, Moussaieff was duped into paying huge sums for several of the allegedly fake items, but his version of events has been repeatedly questioned.

 Asked to comment on one story told by Moussaieff, Dorfman responded, “He is not telling the truth, plain and simple.”

 In another setback for the prosecution, Judge Farkash agreed to recall an expert on isotopes from the Geological Survey of Israel to explain apparent contradictions between testimony given to the court and research submitted to a scientific journal three weeks earlier.

 Matthew Kalman reports from Jerusalem for TIME, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Channel 4 News. His ongoing reports from the antiquities trial are available at

September 9th, 2009

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September 6th, 2009

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September 3rd, 2009

Posted In: forgery

By Allyson Bird

The (Charleston) Post and Courier

Five dark-suited FBI agents showed up at Patriots Point on Friday with two Civil War-era Medals of Honor.

 And while the agents had few details about the investigation it took to bring the medals to their new home, they didn’t mince words when it came to describing the kind of people involved in the theft of the nation’s highest military honor.

 “I can’t imagine anything more despicable than taking away the honor of those people who earned those medals,” said David Thomas, South Carolina special agent in charge.

 The FBI investigates stolen and counterfeit Medals of Honor nationwide. A judge, a police chief and a mayor are among the those who have been arrested in these types of cases.

 Retired Marine Maj. Gen. James Livingston accepted the star-shaped decorations Friday from Thomas at a reception in the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown.

 Neither of the two medals was recovered in South Carolina, Thomas said, but he would offer no additional information about where they were or how agents found them.

 Livingston recounted the stories behind the medals: Thomas Jenkins, a Navy seaman aboard the USS Cincinnati, continued fighting even after realizing both he and his ship were doomed. George Emmons served in two separate enlistments, each time with one of his sons.

 Livingston, a Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient who lives in the Charleston area, said each star represents the spirit of service of all Americans.

 Speaking to the FBI agents, he said, “I think what you’ve done is bring back a little bit of America to the Medal of Honor Museum.”

 The FBI began pursuing stolen and counterfeit Medals of Honor even before Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act in 2006. That legislation made it a federal crime to falsely represent oneself as an award recipient and stiffened penalties for those who make or sell unauthorized military decorations.

 In 2004, the FBI busted a Canadian man suspected of selling Medals of Honor on eBay. In 2007, a Pomona, Calif., water district official faced federal charges for making a false claim that he received the Medal of Honor.

 Some of the suspects “displayed them very prominently in their offices,” Thomas said. “How do you explain something like that?”

August 22nd, 2009

Posted In: forgery

Matthew Claxton

Langley Advance

Friday, August 21, 2009

It can be quite depressing reading police press releases. Most of what they let us know about, of course, is death, injury, theft, and fraud. Someone has been hurt or killed in a car accident, someone has been assaulted, someone has been robbed.

The details of the crimes themselves are petty and stupid. A man robs a bank without wearing a mask. A car is stolen and dumped. A purse is snatched from an elderly woman.

It’s enough to make you despair for the art of crime. The average criminal is idiotic, impulsive, and either intoxicated or desperate to become intoxicated.

Organized criminals are no better. The gangsters who’ve recently been shooting up Lower Mainland streets appear to be thick-necked yahoos concerned only with getting more tattoos and bigger SUVs.

Where are the true master criminals? Where are the guys who look at a map of the Vegas strip and say “We’ll need 11 guys to pull this off”? Where are the plans to tunnel into Fort Knox, to blackmail the world with an orbital death ray? Where are the supervillains stroking white cats and saying “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die”?

Great criminals do exist, maybe without the death rays and white cats. Today marks the anniversary of one of the greatest crimes in history: the theft of the Mona Lisa.

Largely forgotten today, in 1911 the theft shook the world. Someone had lifted the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci off its hook on the wall of the Louvre and walked out with it. Police searched everywhere, even questioning Pablo Picasso after a friend fingered him for the crime.

The real thief was Vincenzo Perugia, an Italian who had worked in the Louvre. He stole the painting when the museum was closed by simply hiding overnight and dressing as a staff member. He tucked the painting under his smock and walked past an unattended guard booth.

Perugia was caught three years later trying to sell the painting to an Italian art dealer; he claimed his goal was simply to return the painting to its rightful home in Italy. An Italian court gave him a lenient sentence of a little more than a year, and Perugia never had to buy his own drinks again.

So far, so mediocre. But later in the decade, an Argentinean con man named Eduardo de Valfierno told another story to a New York reporter. Valfierno claimed it was he who had put Perugia up to the job, but not because he actually wanted the painting.

Valfierno (who called himself a marquis) approached several wealthy but less-than-ethical art collectors. His question: If the Mona Lisa were for sale, what would it be worth?

He could have sold the painting to any one of them. But Valfierno had a better idea. He worked with a talented forger to create six identical copies of the Mona Lisa. Then he sold it six times as soon as the theft became public knowledge.

Valfierno had no need of the real painting, and the story goes that he and the other conspirators never even contacted Perugia after the theft. The real Mona Lisa lay under Perugia’s bed for most of the next three years.

The story might be entirely fictional. Valfierno’s story only became public in the 1930s, after his death. And none of the rich would-be buyers has ever come forward, of course.

If there has to be crime (and sadly there always will be) it would be nice if more criminals had some audacity. Future crooks take note: Petty thieves tend to get caught. Valfierno never went to prison.

August 22nd, 2009

Posted In: forgery, Museum thefts

Blinded by a fear of fakes

The art world is riddled with forgeries, terrorising experts with the threat of lost reputation and corroding our appreciation of beauty 

Jonathan Jones, Friday 21 August 2009 15.20 BST


Last month I visited an art museum in an Italian seaside town. The museum was modern and well-organised, and its treasures, from a private collection of Renaissance art, should have been just to my taste. I won’t name the museum or the town, though, because of what I’m about to say. The pride of the collection is a self-portrait by a famous Florentine artist done, unusually, on terracotta. Now I happen to know about an 18th-century forger who made “self-portraits” by Florentine masters, on terracotta, just like this. Suddenly I saw fakes everywhere. I just wanted to hit the beach. I’d fallen prey to a kind of madness – a paranoia that wrecks art. But what would I have lost, really, if I’d been taken in by a forgery or two?

The fear of fakes does far more harm than forgery itself. This terror that comes with the pride of thinking you know something about art corrodes pleasure, cripples the imagination, blinds you to what might be beautiful. Art is riddled with forgeries, misattributions and dodgy restorations. It is also bedevilled with “experts” who stake their reputations on never being fooled – when in reality everyone gets fooled. The kind of scholarship that does not add to the excitement of art, but instead makes people terrified that what they are seeing might be inauthentic, is arrogant and destructive.

Experts on the Mexican surrealist Frida Kahlo who have denounced a “lost archive” of her life and work seem to me to exemplify this poisonous attitude. They accuse a book soon to be published by Princeton Architectural Press of being stuffed with fakes and forgeries – but admit they haven’t examined the archive it is based on. “If I had to jump on a plane every time somebody made a fake painting”, said one of the sceptics, “I’d never get any work done.”

Even the famous early 20th-century fake-hunter Bernard Berenson might have quailed at this pomposity. Berenson created the modern delusion of exact connoisseurship and transformed the canon of western art by establishing precise criteria of style, separating the “real” works of Renaissance artists from old fakes and misattributions. But Berenson and critics like him turned art history into a pseudoscience. One 19th-century Italian “expert” scrutinised earlobes and other physical clues in paintings – the similarity to Victorian criminological gobbledegook is no coincidence. It was pseudoscience. So is the entire edifice of modern art history when it lays claim to objective truth about who painted exactly what and when.

Today’s art experts marshal techniques such as infrared photography to make their knowledge seem all the more scientific. This makes it harder than ever to question the voice from above. But when writing and thinking about art gets reduced to a lofty denunciation of fakes and the tedious analysis of provenance that is art scholarship’s meat and drink it just fills ordinary visitors to museums with fear and insecurity. Do I actually know enough to look at this painting, you might ask yourself in front of a Rembrandt? Am I qualified to see it? The general answer implied by modern art history from Berenson to his spectroscopically equipped modern successors is a chilly “No”.

The consolation is that secretly the fake-busters are going mad. An academic once told me he’d been called to an antiques shop to examine a drawing by the artist he specialises in. He judged it a fake and suspected he’d been deliberately set up by one of his rivals who hoped to catch him out. What a world. It seems like a scene from a strange Nabokovian novel.

Has Princeton Architectural Press been caught in a trap? Or are the scholars who denounce a Kahlo archive they have never examined the true fakes? Personally I’d rather be fooled be a few fakes than reduce the glory and passion of art to such pedantry. I honestly believe that many people who spend their lives studying art in depth – and pride themselves on never being taken in by fakes fooled – find it all less rewarding than the visitor to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper whose only background reading is Dan Brown.

August 22nd, 2009

Posted In: forgery

Art Dealer Files Slander Action Against Claire Forlani


    LOS ANGELES (CN) – A private art dealer has filed a libel and slander suit against actress Claire Forlani for allegedly falsely claiming that he sold her a fake photographic print and had sold other fakes to other customers.

     Paul Rusconi, in a complaint filed in Superior Court, also said Forlani falsely asserted that he charged three or four times the true price for art pieces.

     According to the suit, Forlani bought a silver gelatin photographic print by William Claxton of the actor Steve McQueen eating a doughnut in Sept., 2006 as a present for actor Dougray Scott (now Forlani’s husband). The print is one of only 15 made by Claxton and is not a forgery, the complaint said.

     On July 27 of this year, Forlani allegedly — “for some malicious reason” — sent out a mass email claiming Rusconi was selling art work that he knew had been forged “and that he routinely defrauded his clients by vastly overcharging for the works he sold to them.”

     The suit, filed by Larry Feldman and Robert Barnes of Kaye Scholer, claims at leat $25 million in damages.

August 21st, 2009

Posted In: forgery

German police seize fake artworks

CBC News 

German police say they’ve arrested an art dealer and two other people in a worldwide art forgery ring, seizing 1,000 fake works.

Authorities in southwestern Germany say they uncovered more than 1,000 phoney Alberto Giacometti bronzes and sculptures. Giacometti is an Italian artist known for his skeletal figures often featured in a walking stance.

Police arrested a 61-year-old art dealer and his wife as well as a 59-year-old man from Frankfurt.

They face charges of collaborating to sell the fake works on the international market.

Officials say the trio has been at it since 2004.

According to prosecutors, the art dealer posed as a count and the man from Frankfurt would pretend to be a friend of Giacometti’s brother, claiming to have found a secret cache of art works after the artist’s death in 1966.

Giacometti’s pieces are worth millions. Earlier this year, Giacometti’s bronze of his brother,Bust of Diego, sold at a New York auction for $7.7 million US.

August 21st, 2009

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August 3rd, 2009

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

By By Asadullah 


The local art market has witnessed a boom exclusively for a few art galleries that have outfoxed older establishments with their rapid commercial success. Their prosperity is directly linked to the clandestine sale of forged artworks in the garb of authentic masterpieces, local artists claimed. 

However, forgery is not something in vogue; fake art work is often attributed to renowned but deceased artists by transferring their original signature on the canvas. Seasoned artists are annoyed with the situation but appear helpless to approach the authorities. 

Farhan Mehdi, son of Pakistan’s celebrated painter Eqbal Mehdi, cursed the menace of piracy that has ravaged his belief in the local art market, which has witnessed a thriving consumption of fake art works of renowned artists including his father. Mehdi, who is an interior designer and former gallery owner, conjured an idea to expose one of the unscrupulous names associated with this racket. 

Feigning to play a middleman brokering a deal with a dummy Dubai-based investor, played by a policeman, Mehdi invited art dealer Tariq Hussain to his house and recorded the entire meeting. This led to an arrest in December last year, but in a unique Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) case, the accused was granted bail. 

The video made available to media outlets shows the accused showing nothing short of a replica of the genius Sadequain, with his fake signature dating back to 1987. “There are very few people who deal in such kind of art works. I deal in both original and fake ones,” he proudly told the police officer in disguise. 

“A painting worth four million rupees is copied and brazenly sold for one hundred thousand rupees,” Mehdi said. “Such forged and fake art works are sold with authentication letters, confirming the age of the canvas and brush strokes.” 

The accused, Husain, brought with him rolled canvases having signature paintings of Sadequain, Souza, Gulgee, Bashir Mirza and even Jamil Naqsh, who is alive. He showed a letter of authenticity to his hosts, saying he will provide every painting with an authentication letter and email addresses of the holders and owners.

 “They were of course fabricated email addresses to impress the buyers,” commented Mehdi. “We have some great art galleries but none of them exhibit phenomenal growth the way two particular art galleries have done while dealing in fake and forged art works of renowned artists in Clifton and Defence. Their owners are related to each other as well.” 

Local artists claim that the art galleries operate on commission, rather than investing in artists’ work and then selling the work with profit. This is not the case with the forged art works. “Not only are investors available but there are some renowned artists, who have earned infamy for painting Sadequain, Gulgee and Eqbal Mehdi without any trace of remorse,” Mehdi added. 

Tariq Hussain’s audacious dealing with the disguised policeman of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) rank is an eye-opener for the champions of the Intellectual Property Rights. At one point of time, Mehdi showed Hussain a particular xerographic copy of Sadequain’s work asking if he has it. “Let’s try. We can get it,” was his immediate reply. “We deal in both originals and fakes.”

 Farhan Mehdi mentioned that disciples of his late father have been painting in the same vocabulary to give them an authentic look. He believed that the subjects of most fake sketches, bearing forged signature of his father, could not be attributed to his original work. “What the police recovered from Hussain were pathetic works as far as the figurative diction was concerned.” 

Interestingly, the Clifton police arrested the accused from Farhan’s place but the arrest was shown to be at Clifton Centre. Similarly, the confiscated fake art works were simply placed inside the police station only to be taken away by those interested in adoring walls of their drawing rooms. Certainly, this kind of IPR violation is a low priority for the police.

May 23rd, 2009

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March 11th, 2009

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Lord of the manor ‘tried to sell fake Lowry for £330,000 at meeting in Ritz hotel’
By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 12:49 AM on 25th February 2009
Lord Maurice Taylor claims he told ‘little white lies’ so it would sound better
A lord of the manor tricked an art dealer into buying a fake L.S. Lowry painting for £330,000 at a meeting in his room at London’s Ritz hotel.

Lord Maurice Taylor – who also calls himself Lord Windsor – convinced the dealer the painting known as Mill Street Scene was genuine by revealing it had been given an auction value of £450,000 by Bonhams Auctioneers, Chester Crown Court was told.

But when David Smith, Managing Director of Neptune Fine Arts, checked with another dealer after paying over most of the cash, he discovered the picture was a well-known forgery on the Manchester art scene, said Sion Ap Mihangel, prosecuting.

Lord Taylor, 60, who lives in a mansion near Congleton, Cheshire, told a number of dealers including Mr Smith that he had bought the painting from a Manchester industrialist named Eddie Rossenfield in the early 1970s.

But in fact he had purchased it in 2004 from a dealer called Martin Heaps for £7,500, knowing it was not an original, said Mr Ap Mihangel.

Members of the jury were shown the painting, a snowy mill scene with ‘matchstick figures’ in the foreground.

It may have looked like a Lowry – but in fact it as only ‘in the style of’ and Lord Taylor must have been aware of the fact, the jury was told.

Lord Taylor denies six counts of fraud and one of forging an invoice to cover his tracks.
David Smith, the alleged victim of the swindle, told the court he specialises in the fine arts, especially paintings by Lowry.

Towards the end of 2007 he was tipped off by a dealer in fine arts in London that a
‘Lord Windsor’ was interested in selling the Mill Street Scene.

Fooled: This forged Lowry Mill Street Scene is well-known in art circles

‘I met him at the Ritz in London with his wife,’ said Mr Smith. ‘He said he had had it valued at Bonham’s auction house in London and it was to appear in a forthcoming sale.

‘He showed me a reference to the painting in a blue-bound document and produced it from a black briefcase. I decided to buy it there and then because the whole scenario was convincing.

‘It was made very easy to buy it. After going back to my home address I later provided my bank details and some of the money was transferred into Taylor’s bank account at Coutts in the Strand.

‘I then went to his home to pay a further £200,000 by bankers draft at his home in Cheshire.

‘It was a sprawling Cheshire mansion with nice furniture and paintings on the walls. I had no concerns about the status of the painting as a Lowry.’

It was only when he had paid over a total of £230,000 that Mr Smith emailed an image of the picture to an expert in Manchester, asking for his views.

He received a phone call back to say that ‘it has been painted by someone to look like a Lowry painting’.

Mr Smith was ‘devastated,’ he told the court. He asked for his money back – to no avail – and he never received the picture.

The prosecution claim that when Taylor bought the painting in 2004 from Martin Heaps he collected it from another dealer called Ivan Aird – an expert who had known the painter.

An invoice had been prepared setting out the status of the painting as an ‘after Lowry’, meaning a copy.

But it is claimed Lord Taylor altered the invoice to delete the ‘after Lowry’ and alter the sale price to £8,000, so that his swindle would not be discovered.

Lord Taylor is accused duping a representative of Bonhams and also of Halcyon Gallery before his fraud on Mr Smith.

He will claim he told ‘little white lies’ to Bonhams and David Smith about the painting being bought in the 1970s, but only because ‘it sounded better’.

Lord Taylor claims he bought the painting from Ivan Aird and because Aird owed him ‘big time’ he sold him an original.

He claims Aird changed the invoice and pocketed £500 during the transaction – which Aird denies.

The case continues.

February 25th, 2009

Posted In: forgery

Art dealer sentenced for selling counterfeits

By Todd Ruger

Published: Friday, February 20, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 at 6:25 a.m.

SARASOTA COUNTY – A former art dealer was sentenced to 18 months in prison for selling bogus paintings to two customers, including an elderly collector who has since died.

In one case, Dowling commissioned a $21,000 painting of the Battle of Trafalgar, a detailed rendering of warships on the high seas.

But Dowling instead paid a local painter $400 to do her own version, then tried to pass it off as the real thing by hanging it in the 81-year-old Nelson Dane Jr.’s home.

“He was the biggest phony,” said Dane’s wife, Nancy. “I looked at it — and I don’t know much about art — and said, ‘That’s not what you want, Nelson.'”

Nelson died in December, but not before getting the painting he was supposed to get. The artist commissioned to paint the scene created the work, but Dowling did not pay him, Nancy Dane said.

Another collector, Arden Moore, told police that Dowling sold him a $2,675 painting supposedly from artist Marilyn Simandle, and Dowling said he sent it to her to get signed.

But after word of Dowling’s arrest was publicized, they sent a photo of the work to Simandle, who told Moore it was not her work.

February 21st, 2009

Posted In: forgery

By Rene Bruemmer, The GazetteJanuary 27, 2009 1:01 PM

SQ chief inspector for economic crimes Michel Forget looks over one of several statues stolen from parks and building under construction. The accused, Richard McClintock, is also charged with being in the possession of 80 paintings he forged with a total value of $1.5 million.

Photograph by: Marcos Townsend, THE GAZETTEMONTREAL- In a sun-drenched room of the Musée des beaux arts sit three dozen paintings bearing the signatures of the masters of the Quebec and international art scene: abstract oil paintings by Quebecers Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paul-Émile Borduas, impressionist landscapes by Montrealer Fernand Toupin, multicoloured fabrications by Belgium’s Pierre Alechinsky.

Unfortunately, according to police they’re all the art work of local talent Richard McClintock, 50, of Quebec City, who last week was arrested and charged with 75 charges of fraud, forgery and the possession of goods obtained under a criminal nature.

He sold two of the pieces to Montreal art dealers for $25,000 each.

In an effort to combat what police officers call the third-largest international criminal enterprise after the drug trade and arms smuggling, the Sûreté du Québec and RCMP have announced a new squad of four officers dedicated to combatting art-related crime, specifically theft, forgery, smuggling and reselling.

Since 2004, the SQ has dealt with more than 450 cases involving art theft, leading to 20 arrests, and seized nearly 150 stolen artworks worth more than $2 million.

The unit, which will work closely with national and international agencies, is the only one of it’s kind in Canada. Quebec police decided to form one because its years of expertise in the field have given it a 15 per cent recovery rate for stolen items, far better than the international average of 8 or 9 per cent, officers said. Art theft is not more common in Quebec, they said.

They have already established an email used to alert or collect information from 50,000 art dealers, museums, auction houses, collectors and police services in 70 countries about lost or stolen pieces. The email address is

January 27th, 2009

Posted In: forgery

“The Washing Place,” left, by the late Park Su-geun sold for 4.5 billion won at the Seoul Auction in May 2007, but is now embroiled in a forgery scandal. Another painting by Park, titled “Mothers Preparing Rice Cakes,” also stirred up a forgery allegation when it was donated to a local hospital. / Yonhap

By Michael Ha
Staff Reporter

A painting by the late Park Su-geun (1914-1965), one of the most beloved Korean painters from the 20th century, is again at the center of an art forgery scandal.

Local media reported last month that the highly valued work that an art dealer donated to Yonsei University’s Medical Center may turn out to be a fake.

The donated painting, titled “Mothers Preparing Rice Cakes,” was thought to be worth 7 billion won. But reports soon followed that the work had failed a previous authentication process and that one appraisal group, the International Art and Science Institute in Korea, had evaluated the artwork a few years ago and even called it a low-quality, unlicensed duplicate.

The controversy has created a quandary for the hospital staff, which had been planning to display it in a main lobby. This month, the Yonsei University Health System told reporters that “the donor strongly believes the painting is genuine. We think this controversy started because of the potentially high value of the donated artwork. We will go ahead with an addition appraisal procedure.”

Park’s Artwork Embroiled In Scandal

All around the world, allegations of forgery are never far away from famous artworks with high commercial value. In Korea, Park’s work in particular has been the subject of intense scrutiny and scandals that have jolted the domestic art world in recent years.

Earlier last year, “The Washing Place,” a well-known painting by Park that sold for 4.5 billion won at the Seoul Auction in May 2007, became fodder for an art forgery scandal. The painting, which depicts a group of women by a stream washing clothes ― a typical scene from rural villages in the past ― remains the most expensive artwork ever sold in Korea.

But critics continue to question the painting’s authenticity. The Seoul Auction and the Korean Art Appraiser’s Association say they stand by the painting, noting that the artwork passed a series of rigorous appraisal processes. But several senior art historians and professors reportedly remain convinced that it is a classic case of forgery, according to reports.

The controversy is now in the process of going through legal proceedings, and a court-appointed group of appraisers is expected to re-evaluate “The Washing Place” sometime early this year.

Target for Forgers

When media reports look at why Park’s paintings are popular targets for forgers, one obvious answer is that he enjoys broad recognition and affection among the Korean public. As a matter of fact, no serious history of modern and contemporary Korean art can be written without mentioning his work. Many of his paintings routinely fetch upwards of hundreds of millions of won at art auctions.

Park’s appeal is partly derived from the popular taste depicted in his works. Park, who had no formal training in art, used an unsophisticated and candid style and lyrically captured scenes from the daily life of average Korean people, who lived through exceptional hardships during the mid-20th century.

Adding to the allure is the fact that there are only a limited number of Park’s oil paintings that are still available in the market.

Another reason forgers may be drawn to Park’s paintings is his primary stylistic tendencies. Some art experts note that authenticating Park’s work can be especially painstaking because of his style, which favors unsophisticated gray-and-white line depiction, earthy colors and crude textures.

`Korean Art Laundering’

Art forgeries involving Park’s paintings are also reportedly taking place in the overseas art world. A local television documentary by SBS reported last month that Christie’s, a leading U.S. auctioneering firm, was duped by forged artworks that were supposedly painted by the late Park.

The documentary quoted a manager in charge of appraisal and sales of Korean art as saying that “the situation has been getting more difficult for the past two years, when forged Park Su-geun paintings started to come in. We even had to return two forged paintings.”

According to the report, there are now cases of “Korean art laundering,” where a fake artwork makes its way from Korea onto overseas markets and is bought by major auctioneering firms. It then makes its way back to the Korean art market with a seal of approval from leading art auctioneers and is resold to unsuspecting domestic art collectors at high prices.

Artwork as Investments

Reports say that until recently, speculations about art forgery have generally been confined to private conversations among collectors during art auctions ― it was not a topic of discussion for the public.

But this shady practice of art forgery has been attracting a great deal of media attention in Korea recently. This may be because Korean investors are putting more of their money in artwork as a way to divest from risky stocks and volatile real estate holdings. Observers say prices of artwork by Korea’s “blue-chip artists,” including Park, have been going through the roof at recent auctions. Investors are increasingly purchasing these paintings with no actual expertise in art, according to reports.

Forgers Aided by Digital Cameras

But while Park’s paintings have been the subject of forgery scandals, they are far from being alone.

Recent reports say forging techniques have been steadily advancing with the aid of computers and digital cameras, turning out fake paintings that are so close to the genuine article that even the artist who painted the original picture can’t tell them apart. And a study by the Korean Galleries Association says that a substantial share of artwork at commercial galleries may in fact be duplicates.

The group says there are dozens of expert forgers working to imitate high-value paintings. It says many of these fakes are high quality since of some of the forgers themselves had served apprenticeships under the painters whose artwork they are duplicating.

Debate Over‘The Washing Place

As for Park’s 4.5 billion won painting, the court proceeding will consider several aspects of the work to determine whether it is genuine or a worthless piece of paper, according to Korean media reports.

The court will employ a team of analysts and a scientific appraisal process to examine whether the pigments used in the painting matches those from mid- 20th century Korea. The court will also review past authentication processes to trace back the painting’s provenance.

January 13th, 2009

Posted In: forgery

Archéologie: le mystère de la statue sans tête
Par Fabrice Arfi

Le monde de l’art parisien est confronté depuis plusieurs semaines à une possible affaire de faux archéologique de première importance, qui vient jeter une lumière crue sur la fiabilité des expertises menées au sein de grandes maisons de vente aux enchères. Au centre de l’histoire se trouve une petite statue d’à peine 80 centimètres représentant un buste, sans bras ni tête, estimée à plusieurs centaines de milliers d’euros.

See complete text at the Museum Security Network Google group

January 5th, 2009

Posted In: forgery

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December 4th, 2008

Posted In: forgery

November 15, 2008 —

An art collector has been given the green light to sue Christie’s auction house for allowing a purported Basquiat painting it allegedly knew was a fake to be sold anyway.

Christie’s auctioned off the untitled work in 1990 for $242,000, crediting it to Jean-Michel Basquiat and claiming to have gotten it “directly from the artist.”

But the painter’s estate had warned the auction house that it was “not right” and shouldn’t be sold, court papers say.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Herman Cahn allowed the painting’s current owner, Guido Orsi, to continue with his fraud claim against Christie’s, but threw out claims brought by the painting’s previous owner.

Orsi is seeking $2 million from Christie’s, the amount a genuine Basquiat would now be worth. He says he discovered the painting was a phony in 2006.

November 16th, 2008

Posted In: Auction Houses and stolen objects, forgery

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October 24th, 2008

Posted In: forgery

PRINCETON, N.J. — An artist’s brush stroke, it seems, is as individual as a signature. In the world of art deals, where authenticity defines the value of a painting, those brush strokes determine whether a work has been painted by a master or is worth little more than the canvas it’s painted on. Helping the art world is the emerging scientific field of digital image processing, which aids in discerning masterpieces from works of cunning mischief.
At the cutting edge is a team of two Princeton University graduate students and their adviser, who are being featured in the PBS NOVA series Science Now.

July 12th, 2008

Posted In: forgery

Greek authorities will not allow the disc to be examined outside its case
Jerome Eisenberg, a specialist in faked ancient art, is claiming that the disc and its indecipherable text is not a relic dating from 1,700BC, but a forgery that has duped scholars since Luigi Pernier, an Italian archaeologist, “discovered” it in 1908 in the Minoan palace of Phaistos on Crete.
Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent


July 12th, 2008

Posted In: forgery

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May 11th, 2008

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PARIS (AFP) — As Indiana Jones gets set to hit cinema screens with a new death-defying adventure in the “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, a Paris museum acknowledged Friday that its own star exhibit crystal skull was not what it was cracked up to be.
One of only a dozen such skulls known to exist worldwide, the Quai Branly museum’s piece was acquired in 1878 from an Indiana Jones-type explorer, Alphonse Pinart, as an Aztec masterpiece believed to be hundreds of years old, the remnant of an ancient and mysterious civilisation.
But in a statement Friday the museum admitted the skull, rather than dating from the Aztec period, was probably made in the 19th century.
From May 20 the Paris skull goes on view to coincide with the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” — the fourth installment in Harrison Ford’s archaeologist’s adventures since the 1981 blockbuster “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
While the plot of the latest archeological epic by Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas remains a tightly-guarded secret, bets are the Indiana Jones movie will mirror Aztec beliefs surrounding the skulls.
Legend has it that the Paris skull represents the Aztecs’ Mictlantecuhtli, who reigned over the land of the deceased, Mictlan. Reuniting all 12 existing skulls plus a supposed-to-exist 13th could prevent the earth from tipping over, according to fable.
In a statement Friday, the Quai Branly said results of an analysis of its skull in 2007-2008 by the country’s C2RMF research and restoration centre “seem to indicate that it was made late in the 19th century.”
Over the past decade experts had voiced growing doubts over the Aztec origin of the crystal skulls, one of which is in the British Museum, another at Washington’s Smithsonian Institute.
The London skull was examined twice, in 1996 and 2004, and both studies tended to prove it was a fake, though the final conclusions have not been made public.
Fashioned in clear quartz crystal and 11 centimetres (4.4 inches) high, the Paris skull is marked by grooves and perforations that “reveal the use of jewellery burrs and other modern tools,” the museum said.
“Never has such technical precision been found in pre-Colombian art.”
C2RMF engineers Thomas Calligaro and Yvan Coquinot told AFP that three months of analysis of the skull highlighted that the piece “is certainly not pre-Columbian, it shows traces of polishing and abrasion by modern tools.”
Analysis by a particle accelerator had also shown traces of water dating from the 19th century, they said.
Like the London skull, the Paris piece was once in the hands of Eugene Boban, a controversial Paris dealer in archaeological objects believed to be well aware of the production of fake antiquities.
But though no crystal skull yet found at archaeological digs has proved to be authentic, the 12 located around the world continue to arouse interest and speculation.
Apart from the Paris, London and Smithsonian skulls, nine belong to private individuals — the skull of destiny, the Sha-Na-Ra skull, the synergy skull, the Max skull, the Maya skull, a so-called E.T. skull, the amethyst skull, the reliquary cross skull and the pink crystal skull.
Each skull was supposed to correspond to 12 worlds in which human life was present. They were brought by the Itza, the ancient people of Atlantis, to their civilisation in order to pass on their knowledge to man.
The 13th world, the land, also had its own crystal skull, and all 13 skulls were kept in a great pyramid by the Olmecs, the Mayas and ultimately the Aztecs.
The Aztecs are said to have been responsible for the dispersal and loss of the skulls, which when brought together possessed great powers, including being lined up on the last day of the Maya calendar — December 21, 2012 — to prevent the earth from tipping over.

April 19th, 2008

Posted In: forgery

MOSCOW—Russian art-world headlines often boil down to corruption and conflicts between state and individual interests, and the stories occupying insiders right now are no exception. ARTINFO’s Moscow correspondent reports on the opening of the first foreigner-owned gallery in the country, a national museum owning up to its past transgressions, private citizens taking matters into their own hands, and a group of patriots sinking their claws into an artist.
First foreigner-owned gallery opens in Moscow
On April 17, Berlin gallerist Volker Diehl opened Russia’s first foreigner-owned exhibition space, Diehl + Gallery One, located in the first floor of a lavish Stalin-era mansion facing the Moscow river and near the Russian White House. Diehl has long-standing connections with Russia’s art community: He’s a member of the selection committee of Russia’s biggest art fair, Art Moscow, and frequently exhibits there, and his Berlin gallery represents two Russian artists — Blue Noses and Alexey Kallima.

Diehl + Gallery One inaugurated the space with a solo show by Jenny Holzer, put on in cooperation with Monica Spruth Philomene Magers gallery of Cologne, Munich, and London. The exhibition features two large installations, Monument (2008) and Curves (2007), and a half-dozen semi-abstract prints based on declassified documents from the American government. At the opening, the artist shocked some members of Moscow’s glamorous art crowd by wearing sneakers.

While Diehl is the first foreign dealer to open a gallery in Russia, he is not the first to consider such an option. During separate visits to the country last year, gallerists Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch both expressed interest in entering the Russian art market.

Tretyakov Gallery pleads guilty
Despite this international boost, the Russian art world is still dealing with a bit of scandal. In the last week of March, Lydia Iovleva, deputy director of the State Tretyakov Gallery, finally addressed an issue that has been tarnishing the museum’s reputation for several years.

Three years ago, two art and antiquities dealers from Moscow, Igor and Tatiana Preobrazhensky, were caught selling ten artworks that they claimed were by Russian Realist painters from the 19th century. Prosecutors argued that the dealers were connected to a group of forgers of Russian descent who bought 19th-century works made in Sweden, Norway, and England, which can be very close to their Russian counterparts in style and subject matter, then added decidedly Russian details — a village here, a church there. The forger’s technique was good enough to fool experts who conducted scientific analyses on the paints and canvases in question. Court hearings for the Preobrazhenskys started this January, with both dealers declaring their innocence and claiming they are also victims of the situation.

It is believed that there are about 300 such forged artworks in circulation, a number of them bearing certificates of authenticity issued by experts at the Tretyakov, the largest institution in the country to exhibit and research Russian art. The Tretyakov isn’t the only state organization to authenticate works: the paintings in the Preobrazhensky case came with certificates from Grabar Institute for Restoration and Expertise. When the scope of the scam was discovered, attention turned to the Tretyakov experts, as everyone hoped that they would assure the market that they hadn’t authenticated any artworks involved in the massive forgery. Instead, the gallery remained silent.

As a result of the scandal, in 2006 Russia’s Culture and Cinema Agency forced all state museums and organizations to shut their authentication services, including the Tretyakov’s, a big moneymaker that brought in up to $10,000 per piece. It was only after this decision, and persistent prodding from both dealers and the government, that the gallery started an internal investigation.

The long awaited results were finally released at the end of March, with the gallery admitting to 96 wrongly assigned certificates. Unfortunately, this announcement is unlikely to put the question to rest. Many observers believe that there are more fakes circulating with the Tretyakov’s certificate, with rumors floating that blank documents with experts’ signatures were sold in large quantities illegally before 2006.

Antique dealers vs. government structures
With forgeries high on dealers’ list of worries, the Antiques Salon, Moscow’s oldest antiques fair, has chosen to address the matter at this year’s edition, which runs April 12 to 20 in the Central House of Artists.

At a special press conference on Saturday, April 19, the International Confederation of Antique and Art Dealers (ICAAD) — a network of dealers spanning the territory of the former USSR — will present a new initiative, announcing 12 experts anonymously selected by the confederation’s members to serve as an alternative to the state-approved body of 400 specialists currently licensed to issue certificates of authenticity. The experts will be able to issue certificates backed by ICAAD. It is not known whether the number of experts will differ in the years to come.

Rosokhrankultura (the Commission for Preserving Russian Culture) responded to the initiative last week at a press conference by announcing a fourth volume of the already extensive catalog of forged Russian artworks. Rosokhrancultura’s deputy director Anatoly Vilkov said of ICAAD’s initiative: “Our approved experts and ICAAD’s experts are like pupils in state and private schools.” Vilkov’s viewpoint is clear, but given the state of public education in Russia — schools are widely burdened with quality and personnel problems — the analogy can be read to favor ICAAD.

Russian nationalists take on an artist
Meanwhile, another conflict between public and private spheres erupted last Friday, when a group of Russian nationalists took an artist to court for two paintings they believe to be inciting “racial or national animosity.”

Notably, the dispute unfolded not within a gallery or museum but in the growing forum of the Internet. The plaintiffs had seen the “offending” works, two paintings by Lena Hades, who is relatively well known in Moscow but does not have gallery representation, only in the form of jpgs on her blog on One, Welcome to Russia (1999), hangs in Igor Markin’s private museum; the other, Chimera of the Mysterious Russian Soul (1996) was exhibited only once, at a group exhibition in Solyanka gallery in 2005.

The nationalists were offended by the artist’s depiction of the Russian soul as a cartoonish creature with clichéd attributes of Russian everyday life — a bottle of vodka, a model of Sputnik — and by the crudely painted text in Welcome that indicts the Russian character as simultaneously overaggressive and alarmingly God-fearing.

The works have also found few fans among the arts community — many view them as kitschy and formulaic — but the nationalists’ criticism goes well beyond aesthetics. After trying to get Hades to remove the works from her personal blog and using increasingly obscene language, her critics — including members of the DPNI (Movement Against Illegal Immigration) — started legal action based on article 282 of the Russian criminal code, which prohibits “excitation of racial or national animosity.”

The larger issue in this conflict is Russians’ struggle to have their voices heard within an increasingly authoritarian state, which tends to cut various political groups off the political radar screen. Because the nationalists, like the members of Garry Kasparov’s ultra-liberal “Other Russia” party, are banned from the decision-making process, their only chance to be heard is on blogs. They are keen to show up in the news but afraid to tackle large subjects. Lena Hades is an easy target. If indicted, she could face up to five years in prison.

April 19th, 2008

Posted In: forgery

Commentary by Martin Gayford Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) — Not since the days of the ingenious Dutchman Han van Meegeren has a forgery got so far. On Dec. 12, the Art Institute of Chicago said that “The Faun,” a ceramic sculpture attributed to Paul Gauguin in the museum’s collection, was really the work of the recently sentenced Shaun Greenhalgh of Bolton, northern England. In the course of an investigation by Scotland Yard, Greenhalgh confirmed that “The Faun” was one of the works he forged, the museum said. (more…)

December 20th, 2007

Posted In: forgery, Mailing list reports


Tonkrieger-Schau macht dicht!Direktor Köpke zieht Konsequenz aus Skandal um die gefälschten Figuren


Scheibchenweise kam der Skandal ans Licht, jetzt steht zweifelsfrei fest: Bei den angeblich 2000 Jahre alten chinesischen Terrakotta-Kriegern im Museum für Völkerkunde handelt es sich lediglich um billige Kopien, die es in China an jeder Ecke für ein paar Euro gibt. Als Konsequenz will Museumsdirektor Wulf Köpke die Ausstellung sofort schließen. Bereits am Montag sagte ein Sprecher des Kulturamtes in Peking: “Wir haben gegenwärtig keine Ausstellung mit Terrakotta-Soldaten in Deutschland.” Einen Tag später musste die Leipziger Firma Center of Chinese Arts and Culture (CCAC), die die Ausstellung organisiert hat, zugeben, dass es sich um Kopien handelt. “Wir haben niemals den Begriff Originale benutzt”, sagte der CCAC-Sprecher Yolna Grimm und bekräftigte damit seine Angaben in den ARD-“Tagesthemen” vom Dienstag. In dem Vertrag, den seine Firma mit dem Völkerkundemuseum abgeschlossen habe, stehe, dass es sich um “authentische Scherbenfiguren aus Originalmaterial” handelt. Mit Originalmaterial sei Ton gemeint. “Das sind keine Originale. Authentisch heißt für uns Scherbenfiguren, lebensgroß, vergleichbar mit den Originalen.” (more…)

December 20th, 2007

Posted In: forgery, Mailing list reports


Fakes and counterfeitsJames Fenton on the art of forgery – and getting away with it  Saturday November 24, 2007The Guardian  The jailing of Shaun Greenhalgh, the Bolton forger, for conspiracy to defraud art institutions is instructive. “Forgeries,” as Otto Kurz wrote in his 1948 handbook Fakes, “hunt in packs.” That is, they are rarely made as unique specimens. The amazing Greenhalghs, the Bolton family of Shaun and his octogenarian parents, were able to pass as owners of an incredibly rare Egyptian statuette from the Amarna period (a traditional area for forgery), but began to come unstuck when they also turned out to own a couple of Assyrian bas-reliefs. (more…)

November 24th, 2007

Posted In: forgery