Crime

Slovenian busted in Austrian investigation into art forgery

Austrian police have busted a multi-million forgery ring comprised of five Austrian and one Slovenian nationals. In the Slovenian part of the operation, Ljubljana police uncovered 66 works of art by acclaimed authors, including by Picasso, Klimt and Monet, at the home of a 65-year-old from the vicinity of Ljubljana.

New law to root out counterfeit artwork in Korea

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced Thursday that it will legislate a new law regarding artwork distribution in an effort to root out the distribution of counterfeit works, recover public trust in Korea’s art market, and establish a healthy trading platform for creative crafts. The law will be implemented in August 2017.

The new law will divide art distribution into three major categories: art galleries, which will be subject to a registration system; art auctions, to a permit system; and other sales of artworks, to a reporting system.

Currently, art galleries or art auction houses can operate with only a business license, and without official registration or approval, which led to criticism that they lacked transparency and engaged in unfair practices in their art distribution process.

With the new law, however, art galleries will have to submit plans to prevent counterfeit artworks as well as a list of all of their affiliate artists. Auction firms will also have to provide counterfeit prevention measures, while possessing certain qualifications including at least 200 million won in capital, an official auctioneer, and an auction house.

Furthermore, artwork distributors will be obliged to maintain records for each of their artworks, and issue an official warranty when they’re sold. Failure to do so will also be result in fines and cancelled business licenses.

The law will implement stronger punishment for counterfeit crimes as well, by stipulating that these types of crimes be punishable by up to five years in prison or 50 million won in fines. The ministry will also consider the potential implementation of special judicial police specific to artwork fraud.

Meanwhile, the ministry is to establish a national body for artwork authentication, which will function as the official agency responsible for developing new authentication technology and professionals in related fields.

“The institute will be operated not as a government agency but as a public one, and will help improve Korea’s art authentication technology, as well as aiding with crimes, investigations, and trials related to counterfeit artwork,” said Jung. “It will be staffed by professional researchers and appraisers.”

The full details of the law are to be revealed in the first half of 2017.

Fake Brett Whiteley paintings sold for more than $3.6 million

Two men created and sold fake paintings by famous Australian artist Brett Whiteley for more than AUS$3.6 million, a court has heard.

Supreme Court Justice Michael Croucher, when outlining the Crown case to the jury on Monday against art dealer Peter Gant and fine art restorer Mohamed Aman Siddique, said the pair had allegedly been involved in a joint criminal enterprise.

Justice Croucher said Mr Siddique was accused of creating three paintings – Big Blue Lavender Bay, Orange Lavender Bay and Through the Window – in the style of Brett Whiteley, who died in 1992.