The art of imitation is still in its golden age | culture

Art history is the history of forgery. The more money the market moves, the more fraudulent actions will appear. Tours also help with political time. After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the former Soviet Union, there was a tidal wave of counterfeiting Russian Masonry paintings. The West wanted them and the lack of documentation of the works was justified in a fractured empire. “Some Eastern European art historians were willing to certify anything for money,” says Kilian Anheuser, scientific director of the Geneva Laboratory of Fine Arts, a laboratory that specializes in authentication. “To this day, Russian art of the early twentieth century remains a huge problem.”

The real framework in which cheating occurs is a combination of time and money. The memory of the counterfeiter and the desire of the collector. Amedeo Modigliani became fashionable after his death (1920) and fakes began to appear. The “good” counterfeiter is cunning. Balance effort and profit. Drawing on old paper takes minutes. Oil painting on the right canvas – using the right technique and dyes – takes a lot of time to prepare. In turn, it promises high profits. Another option is to get a vintage board and add your signature. And the last method is “pancakes”. He joined, for example, different parts of antique porcelain to create new work. “In Naples, it was very common to use marble from underground and catacombs for construction solid stone tables 17th century. The only way to discover reality is to analyze the adhesive that was used to connect the different parts”, reveals archaeologist Nicholas Curtis. Everything is faulty. In Spain, after the ban on the ivory trade, a torrent of fake currents appeared, trying to resemble a Latin-Filipino school, or something similar. There is, too Errors Facial flushing, like Goya’s workshop. Genius never had it.

Maderuelo’s false “original sin” in the hands of an antiques dealer from Madrid at the beginning of the 20th century.

Although the most common imitations – reveals by Kilian Anheuser – combine a seemingly simple technique with a high value in the artist’s market. “There are countless forgeries of early abstract paintings and creators such as Jackson Pollock, Picasso or Modigliani.” But one of the “most exciting” in history is the so-called Spanish Master (Spanish teacher). Nobody knows his name. But EL PAÍS managed to place it in Barcelona between the middle and end of the twentieth century in the realm of first-class antiques. Even the German channel DW dedicated a documentary to him in 2014 (Mysterious swindler, mysterious swindler). His forgeries of Roman antiquities have been traded at museums and auctions for decades. Great pictures of Caesar or Alexander the Great. The system was brilliant. He cast bronze citruses to create the carvings, which he then overlayed with a perennial patina.

But fakes happen in the past and present. In mid-June, the director of the National Gallery of Slovenia, Pavel Kar, was forced to resign, after an investigation revealed that 160 works – Picasso, Degas, Munch, Turner, Chagall, Van Gogh or Matisse, among others – had been loaned by a family. Polikovac (which was held by the disappeared Croatian Minister of the Interior Josip Polikovac between 1990 and 1991), at least to a large extent, is apparently wrong. If it were correct, it would have exceeded 1,000 million euros.

At the end of that month, the FBI seized from the Orlando Museum of Art (Florida) 25 works attributed to Jean-Michel Basquiat from the exhibition. Heroes and monsters. The quality and origin of the pieces have raised doubts. Farewell to a 100 million euro business. A week ago, a Palm Beach dealer was accused of selling BasquiatAnd the WarholsAnd the Matisse s lichtensteins bloomer. The fake new golden age? Christie’s auction house denies this. “We haven’t seen any increase (…), and scientific research has evolved a lot in recent years,” a spokesperson defends. “My intuition tells me that newer art is more likely to be falsified,” says Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of Art History at Oxford University. Old professors are more “vulnerable” to scientific evidence.

Forged work by Picasso.
Forged work by Picasso. Europe Press

Current cases (leaving behind the famous Elmer de Hoery) such as that of Wolfgang Beltracci and his wife Helen, who began producing hundreds of counterfeit products in 1993, which they became wealthy with before that in 2011, cost them six years and four years in prison, respectively, or Legendary New York Knoedler Gallery, Who Spent 17 Years Selling Pollux s Rothkos Fake for $80 million (closed the same 2011), showing fraud is part of the tech ecosystem. Even actor Alec Baldwin is producing an eight-episode podcast called Technical fraud. You hear in the trailer: “The best fakes are still hanging on people’s walls. They don’t know, they don’t suspect they are fakes.”

Not even the Prado Museum is fortified. In the 1990s he released two tablets (decapitation s fire) acquired as joyas. The genius of Aragon is one of the most forged artists in the world. In the 19th century, some “jobs” were set up in Carrera de San Jerónimo where they could be “found”. Young painters created violent and understated images. The adults were figuring out the trick. Another complicated moment was the legacy of Catalan politician Campo. In 1940 donate Musical Angel Small fresco, attributed to the Renaissance painter Melozzo da Forli (1438-1494). It was the only one outside the Vatican. An expert from the museum moved him there. He showed it to Gianluigi Colalucci (1929-2021), who directed the restoration of the Sistine Chapel (1980-1995). has been restored. But he did not support his ratio. A self-portrait of Rembrandt entered in 1941 has also been discarded. The fakes are gowns worn by ghosts from bygone eras.

Liar impunity

There are no specific criminal types in the Spanish legal system for counterfeiting artworks. There are two options: put it as intellectual property offenses or fraud. Perhaps the latter requires a closer look. There has to be deception and what lawyers call “genetic displacement” has to happen. In other words, the goal is to make a profit. In the art market, the usual methods of constructing this deception range from the apparent (signing a painting) to the most complex stages of deceiving the victim. Although jurisprudence takes into account the buyer’s diligence when making an acquisition. Legal sources noted that “despite the fact that the scale of forgery is not insignificant, what the technical operators say, there is also no evidence, based on published statistics, to prove the existence of a large number of criminal convictions.” The law draws little.

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