Seoul

Artist Lee Ufan’s forgery scandal continues

Three people have been arrested for allegedly forging and selling copies of artist Lee Ufan’s paintings. A National Forensic Service investigation confirmed that the six works in question do not align with genuine pieces by Ufan. The artist, however, maintains that the 13 paintings in questions are his authentic works.

Following a tip-off last December, the police raided Seoul galleries suspected of selling fake artworks by Ufan. The following month the police said that the Certificate of Authenticity for his 1978 painting From Point No. 780217, which was sold for US$415,600 to a private collector at an auction last year, had been forged. Although the artwork itself was proven to be authentic, the incident raised further suspicions surrounding the authenticity of his paintings.

In May and July, the police arrested three art forgers for 55 fake pieces claimed to have been done by Ufan, and selling them through the same gallery implicated in the latest police discovery. With four of the 13 paintings seized by the police credited to this group and six paintings claimed to have been forged by the latest forgery ring, the source or sources of the remaining three seized paintings are still unknown.

Ufan has been steadfast in his claims that the paintings alleged to have been forged are in fact his works. “A person’s flow and rhythm are like one’s fingerprints, which cannot be imitated,” he said at a press conference in June, after examining 13 works the National Forensic Service seized and identified as fake. “They are undoubtedly mine.”

Another Chun Kyung-ja painting suspected of forgery

A series of travel sketches of the late artist Chun Kyung-ja, submitted for Seoul Auction’s summer auction on June 29, was suspected of being counterfeit and pulled from the auction soon after. An art critic claimed that the sketches pieced together artworks in Chun’s catalogue published in 1995 titled “CHUN, KYUNG JA.”

Chun’s “Travel sketches” was composed of 16 drawings with an autograph letter. The auction explained that Chun gifted the sketches to an acquaintance named Mr. Park in 1983, in celebration of his 50th birthday.

An anonymous art critic told Yonhap News Sunday that the sketches are similar to multiple paintings and sketches in the catalogue, mainly created during Chun’s travels.

Lee Ufan declares all 13 works authentic

In a surprising turn of events, renowned modern artist Lee Ufan declared all 13 suspected forgeries of his works to be authentic, contrary to the conclusion of a yearlong investigation by police experts.

Lee’s verdict that the 13 pieces confiscated by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency are real comes after two examinations over Monday and Wednesday and contradicts the conclusion drawn by police that the paintings are forgeries after appraisals were made by the National Forensic Service and civilian art experts.

On Wednesday, Lee appeared before Seoul police for the second time this week, carrying two catalogues of his art and a magnifying glass. About four hours later, he emerged from the station declaring that the works were without a doubt authentic.

“I concluded that there is not anything strange with a single piece,” said Lee. “The use of breath, rhythm and colour were all my techniques.”

Lee Ufan to take time to examine counterfeits of his paintings

Artist Lee Ufan, whose abstract paintings have become the subjects of art forgeries, took a look at the paintings the National Forensic Service identified as counterfeits for the first time Monday, but said he has yet to conclude if they are fakes. “I will come back (to the police) the day after tomorrow. There are things I have to check again,” said Lee as he left the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency after having examined the paintings.

Gallery operator indicted for counterfeiting Lee Ufan's works

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Prosecutors have indicted a 66-year-old gallery operator on charges of forging artworks made by renowned South Korean artist Lee Ufan. The suspect, identified only by his surname, Hyeon, is accused of receiving some US$1.1 million in 2012 for producing and selling three fake art works.

Hyeon allegedly received an offer from an unidentified antique dealer to fabricate Lee’s works in 2011, in return for 50% of the profits.

The investigation is still under way as the suspect testified that he created some 50 forgeries together with another accomplice, whose identity was withheld.

Family of Chun Kyung Ja continues deceased artist's fight To have 'fake' painting removed from Seoul Museum

The South Korean painter Chun Kyung Ja was quite clear on how she felt about the version of her painting Beautiful Woman still in the collection in Seoul’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA).

“Parents can recognise one’s child,” Chun said, according to a recent Korea Times report. “That is not my painting.”

Before the artist’s death in October at the age of 91, the scandal over Beautiful Woman had mostly faded from the spotlight. But it was her frustration over the alleged forgery of her work that prompted the artist to leave South Korea in favor of the US in 1991 and completely disappear from the public eye, donating 93 paintings to the Seoul Museul of Art and moving to New York, where she lived until her death.