Tuesday 19 October 2010

Thirty(ish) Forgeries found

This weekend
the Observer reported on the art world shaking news that more than 30 paintings which were thought to be by artists including Max Ernst, Raoul Dufy and Fernand L├ęger are, in fact, artifice. The forgeries have collectively fetched up to £30 million across various auctions in the last few years.

The likely forger is a German man in his late fifties, who was assisted by his wife and sisters in both creating and selling the works. They employed two successful tactics, firstly creating compositions based on documented but lost works of art whose current location was unknown. Secondly, they created convincing back stories for each of the works including fake gallery labels and even a fake first attempt at a painting on the back.

This has left the art owners and auctioneers in a somewhat sticky situation as they attempt to unravel what is and isn’t genuine and who should be liable for the multi-million pound bill. One can only hope that suitable indemnities as to authenticity were included on the sale and that, given some of the works were sold up to 15 years ago, they are not out of time for bringing a claim.

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