Art forgery

Bartc

Well-known member
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350
Very interesting! I"m sure from what I've read of art forgers that the ability to fool the system is at least half the game. They are often very talented/skilled artists, whose work under their own names wouldn't get a second look in the hot art market. But under a famous name they can command as much or more kudos and dollars than the real thing. Says a lot about both the high end art market and the difficulty artists face for recognition unnecessarily. And they get to laugh all the way to the bank. Some famous forgers are able to make money AFTER their exposure under their own names. Odd justice.
 

E.J.H.

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634
I think it's an interesting detail that they were caught in the end because of trace amounts of the modern titanium pigment in the zinc white he used.
 

Bartc

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350
I think it's an interesting detail that they were caught in the end because of trace amounts of the modern titanium pigment in the zinc white he used.
If you ever watch the shows about authenticating art it becomes crystal clear that this has been a classic mistake of forgers. One famous one even did it apparently deliberately in selling fakes for Hitler and his people, just so he'd have an out if called a collaborator later. And it actually got him acquitted at a post-war trial! So was it carelessness or cheek on the part of these two forgers?
 

Bartc

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350
The article says it was carelessness.
Yes, but one has to wonder. Folks who rise by fooling others often try to see how far they can push it before getting caught. A psychological phenomenon indistinguishable for some from their own genuine mistakes. But either way, what a career those two had! There is an old TV show from the UK on YouTube called "The Forger's Masterclass" led by a famous forger who did get caught and jailed. The Masterclass show isn't as much fun as watching the documentaries and the interviews with him about his forgery capers, however.
 

Donna T

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1,368
What a story! I am most amazed that they were able to create "trails" of fake provenance which fooled so many experts.
 

Bartc

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350
Donna, in the forgery trade the provenance (stickers, notes, letters, photos, documents, inscriptions, vague catalogs) are all as important as the artwork itself. There is always the phony story of the gift or purchase or trade into a family that either kept the art quiet and private or simply had no idea what it was worth. The servant who was gifted or paid in art. The mistress who swiped it in anger. And the other common one is that it was "found" at a flea market, garbage dump, garage sale, ruined building, etc.

The willingness to believe that you can get something for nothing, found treasure, etc. is at the heart of the confidence game, and it works all too well in every con game. There is a marvelous series available largely on YouTube called "Fake or Fortune" a British production that goes through this from both angles, authenticating the real and debunking the fake. In fact, the more you learn about the forgery trade, the less remarkable it is that bona fide museums and traders have become seriously skittish. In fact, they've been fooled so often and so spectacularly that you wonder what is actually authentic!

How about if I sell you a forged Bart painting? Can we make a deal? I found it in my garage....
 

Marc

Member
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73
The Dutch zinc white that caught them out was Old Holland's. There were some paint tests done twenty or so years ago that revealed the addition of titanium dioxide in their zinc white. God knows why they did/do this, but it seems someone at Old Holland decided it was a good idea many years ago and they just stuck with it.

Edit; had a search through my notes it was revealed during some tests for water sensitivity in oil paint films. Paper released in 2008 by L Mills, Aviva Burnstock, and Henk Van Keulen.
 
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