Earlier this week conman Richard Pearson was arrested for distributing the forged artworks claiming to belong to Norman Cornish, who died in 2014. Northumbria Police released photographs of some of the paintings and drawings which fooled gallery owners.
They are not exact replicas of Cornish originals but are painted in the artist’s distinctive style, showing scenes of everyday life.
Newcastle Crown Court heard fraudster Richard Pearson convinced gallery owners he had access to a collection of Cornish’s artworks through inheritance and a friend who wanted to sell his personal collection. He passed off a series of 14 drawings and pictures. Four of the fakes were sold on to private collectors.
New Zealand has a history of art crime which will be exposed in an intriguing new exhibition to open at Waikato Museum by the end of the month. The exhibition, An Empty Frame: Crimes of Art in New Zealand features 30 artworks and explores the different aspects of art crime; theft, vandalism and fraud in the form of forgery.
Guest curator and art historian Penelope Jackson says art crime is far more widespread than we know and New Zealand is no exception where art crime is criminally punishable and often motivated by money.
All artworks in the exhibition have at some stage been “victims” of art crime and each is accompanied by its own particular story.
An Empty Frame is named after the elegant gold frame, left behind after the 1902 painting, Psyche by Solomon J Solomon was stolen from a Christchurch gallery in 1942. The famous frame now belongs to the Christchurch Art Gallery collection and is featured in the exhibition. “Psyche is one of my favourite cases as it is full of intrigue. There is a sense of hope the exquisite gold frame will one day be reunited with the stolen painting, although it is highly improbable now”, says Ms Jackson.
One aspect of An Empty Frame intended to challenge visitors is the placement of a genuine artwork from the Museum’s collection alongside a fake.
Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham says it was surprisingly easy to arrange high quality reproductions of the originals for the purpose of the show. “It’s not illegal to produce a copy of a painting, but it is a crime to try to sell it as the original – it’s essentially fraud.”
When one of the oldest and most respected art galleries in America, the Knoedler Gallery in New York, closed its doors abruptly in 2011, the art world was stunned. Not because the gallery closed, but by the discovery that over the course of 15 years, the gallery and its president, Ann Freedman, had sold millions of dollars in forgeries to wealthy collectors.
These masterpieces should be worth in the region of a half a billion pounds. Except they are fakes produced by David Henty, a convicted forger who produced them in the living room of his house by the seaside Brighton. Mr. Henty was exposed by The Telegraph a little over a year ago for selling his copies on eBay, duping hundreds, if not thousands, of the internet auction site’s customers in the process. But proving there’s no such thing as bad publicity, Mr. Henty has turned the notoriety to his advantage.
Every week, Akbar and Bhanu Padamsee receive images from collectors and auction houses for them to look at and confirm authenticity. On most occasions, they turn out to be forgeries. “Most of the works which have been brought to us in the recent past, have not been painted by Akbar,” says Bhanu.
The wife of the master painter made the alarming disclosure to ETPanache while attending a celebration at Priyasri Art Gallery in south Mumbai, to mark the artist’s 88th birthday. However, adds Bhanu, the proliferating racket of fakes is not confined to the octogenarian’s works alone, but confronts all other leading artists too.
The paintings in Buenos Aires’ newest gallery may look like the work of great artists, but they are actually rip-offs – and the exhibition’s organisers want you to know it.
One of the works doesn’t even look the part – it is supposed to be a masterpiece by the late Argentine painter Antonio Berni, but the main figure’s head is cut off by the frame. The 40 canvases on display at the exhibition in the Argentine capital were seized in a raid organised by cross-border police agency Interpol on a band of forgers.
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The widow of renowned Australian artist Brett Whiteley didn’t tell Sydney Swans chairman and investment banker Andrew Pridham he had a huge $2.5 million fake hanging on his wall because she wanted to be sure before she broke the bad news.
But when she was shown a second painting attributed to Whiteley, Orange Lavender Bay, in the back of a truck by an art dealer at her Lavender Bay home in 2009, she was adamant.
“It’s a fake, it’s definitely a fake,” was Wendy Whiteley’s response, she told the Supreme Court of Victoria on Friday, in Australia’s biggest alleged art fraud case.
A bird painted on a fake Brett Whiteley painting which sold for $2.5 million looked like a “wet rag”, a court has heard.
Professor Robyn Sloggett, the director of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, is a key Crown witness in the fraud case against art dealer Peter Gant and art conservator Mohamed Aman Siddique.
Mr. Gant and Mr. Siddique are accused of taking part in a joint criminal enterprise to create and sell fake Whiteley paintings.
Pablo Picasso famously once said, “We all know that art is not the truth.”
With the recent conclusion of the first lawsuit filed against the now defunct, Knoedler Gallery of New York, for selling forgeries, the art world has been abuzz with stories of high-end fakes and the grave issue of false attributions. However, it is a universally established fact that forgeries are not a recent phenomenon but in fact have only grown in prevelance over the last four centuries.
Currently, the FBI estimates that art theft, fraud, looting, and trafficking across state and international lines are a “looming criminal enterprise with estimated losses running as high as $6 billion annually.”
FBI agents carried paintings, documents and a computer last week from the homes of two Santa Fe art dealers under investigation for possible fraud, court documents show, as artists claim they have not been paid for work the duo has sold and buyers allege they have not received pieces they purchased.
Search warrants unsealed in federal court Friday indicate investigators are trying to track down paintings claimed by several artists and buyers who say they have struggled for years to recover works that rotated through galleries jointly owned by Saher Saman and Marji Hoyle.