How to make a fake

Clive Thompson -- author of the collision detection weblog wrote an article on art forgery that was recently published in New York magazine about an art dealer who would buy a mid-level impressionist artwork, have it copied and see the copy with the documentation and credentials of the original. He was able to get away with this until two art auction houses (Christie�s and Sotheby�s) realized that they both had the same painting for sale in their spring catalogs... Oooops... From collision detection: bq. Vase de Fleurs (Lilas) is not one of Paul Gauguin�s greatest works. It�s a �middle market� painting, which means it changes hands usually for only a few hundred thousand dollars, and without much fanfare. But in May 2000, the painting proved it could still turn heads. When Christie�s and Sotheby�s released spring catalogues for their modern-art auctions, they were alarmed to discover that each was offering the painting -- and each house thought it had the original. bq. One of the paintings, clearly, was a fake. So the auction houses flew both paintings to Sylvie Crussard, a Gauguin expert at the Wildenstein Institute in Paris. She put them side by side and in a few minutes saw that Christie�s version was, in the delicate argot of the trade, �not right.� (The auction house just barely managed to yank its catalogue back from the printers in time.) Still, it was the best Gauguin counterfeit she�d ever seen. �This was a unique case of resemblance. You never see two works which are that similar,� Crussard marvels. Fascinating story -- some art fraud cases reach the point where the forgery becomes more valuable than the original work.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on May 25, 2004 1:41 PM.

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