Inside the Underground World of Legal Art Forgery

Janelle Zara

Despite having the means to own the original, one American multimillionaire has opted to hang a forged Renoir in his home while the real thing hangs prominently at a major museum. The man in question is not President Donald Trump, who recently made headlines with his claim of owning Renoir’s 1881 Two Sisters (On the Terrace), despite the painting being part of the Art Institute of Chicago’s permanent collection, but Henry Bloch, the Kansas City–based cofounder of tax preparation firm H&R Block.

We’ll likely never know the provenance of the president’s purported Renoir, but Bloch’s is an example of the seldom-spoken yet widespread practice among institutions to forge famous pieces for collectors who’ve either donated or loaned the original works. In 2010, Henry and late wife Marion Bloch promised the Nelson-Atkins Museum their two-decade-old collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art. In 2015, two years before the Bloch Collection was slated to debut, the museum began duplicating the works, some in-house, some with external help.

 “For the Degas sculpture, they had a few on hand at the Metropolitan Museum of Art bookstore,” says museum director of design and experience, Steve Waterman. “It wasn’t exactly the same sculpture, but we were not really worried about that so much.” 

“I have asked, are you sure you gave me the copies?” he says. “That’s how much they resemble the originals.” 

Full report including photographs : Inside the Underground World of Legal Art Forgery | Architectural Digest