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Art forgery is the creating and selling of works of
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use o ...

art
which are falsely credited to other, usually more famous artists. Art forgery can be extremely lucrative, but modern dating and analysis techniques have made the identification of forged artwork much simpler.


History

Art forgery dates back more than two thousand years.
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...
sculptors produced copies of
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
sculptures. The contemporary buyers likely knew that they were not genuine. During the classical period art was generally created for historical reference, religious inspiration, or simply
aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aesthetics). It examines subjective and ...

aesthetic
enjoyment. The identity of the artist was often of little importance to the buyer. During the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in m ...

Renaissance
, many painters took on
apprentice An apprenticeship is a system for training a new generation of practitioners of a trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a gr ...

apprentice
s who studied painting techniques by copying the works and style of the master. As a payment for the training, the master would then sell these works. This practice was generally considered a tribute, not forgery, although some of these copies have later erroneously been attributed to the master. Following the Renaissance, the increasing prosperity of the
bourgeoisie Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguisti ...

bourgeoisie
created a fierce demand for art. Near the end of the 14th century, Roman statues were unearthed in Italy, intensifying the populace's interest in
antiquities struggling with a Lapith The Lapiths (; grc, Λαπίθαι) are a group of legendary people in Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklor ...
, and leading to a sharp increase in the value of these objects. This upsurge soon extended to
contemporary Contemporary history, in English-language historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work surviv ...

contemporary
and recently deceased artists. Art had become a commercial
commodity In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods ...
, and the monetary value of the artwork came to depend on the identity of the artist. To identify their works, painters began to mark them. These marks later evolved into signatures. As the demand for certain artwork began to exceed the supply, fraudulent marks and signatures began to appear on the open market. During the 16th century, imitators of
Albrecht Dürer Albrecht Dürer (; ; 21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528),Müller, Peter O. (1993) ''Substantiv-Derivation in Den Schriften Albrecht Dürers'', Walter de Gruyter. . sometimes spelled in English as Durer or Duerer (without an Umlaut (linguistics), umlau ...

Albrecht Dürer
's style of printmaking added signatures to them to increase the value of their prints. In his engraving of the Virgin, Dürer added the inscription "Be cursed, plunderers and imitators of the work and talent of others".''Forgeries, a Long History''
, Adrian Darmon
Even extremely famous artists created forgeries. In 1496,
Michelangelo Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (; 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), known simply as Michelangelo (), was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance In art history, the High Renaissance was ...

Michelangelo
created a sleeping
Cupid In classical mythology Classical mythology, Classical Greco-Roman mythology, Greek and Roman mythology or Greco-Roman mythology is both the body of and the study of myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a funda ...
figure and treated it with acidic earth to cause it to appear ancient. He then sold it to a dealer, Baldassare del Milanese, who in turn sold it to
Cardinal Riario of San Giorgio
Cardinal Riario of San Giorgio
who later learned of the fraud and demanded his money back. However, Michelangelo was permitted to keep his share of the money. The 20th-century art market has favored artists such as
Salvador Dalí Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquess of Dalí of Púbol (; ; ; 11 May 190423 January 1989) was a Spanish Surrealism, surrealist artist renowned for his technical skill, precise draftsmanship, and the striking and biz ...
,
Pablo Picasso Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker 300px, Rembrandt, ''Self-portrait'', etching">Self-portrait.html" ;"title="Rembrandt, ''Self-portrait">Rembrandt, ''Self-portrait'', et ...

Pablo Picasso
,
Klee Paul Klee (; 18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was a Swiss-born German artist. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism Expressionism is a modernist , Solomon Guggenheim Museum 1946–195 ...

Klee
and
Matisse Henri Émile Benoît Matisse (; 31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a drawing, draughtsman, printmaking, printmaker, and sculpture, sculp ...

Matisse
and works by these artists have commonly been targets of forgery. These forgeries are typically sold to
art galleries An art gallery is a room or a building in which visual art is displayed. Among the reasons art may be displayed are aesthetic enjoyment, cultural enrichment, or for marketing purposes. While "gallery" continues to be used in the name of institution ...

art galleries
and
auction An auction is usually a process of buying and selling goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), d ...

auction
houses who cater to the tastes of art and antiquities
collectors Collector(s) may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Collector (character), a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe * Collector (2011 film), ''Collector'' (2011 film), a 2011 Indian Malayalam film * Collector (2016 film), ''Collector'' ...

collectors
; at time of the occupation of France by German forces during World War II, the painting which fetched the highest price at Drouot, the main French auction house, was a fake
Cézanne
Cézanne
.


Forgers

There are essentially three varieties of art forger. The person who actually creates the fraudulent piece, the person who discovers a piece and attempts to pass it off as something it is not, in order to increase the piece's value, and the third who discovers that a work is a fake, but sells it as an original anyway.False Impressions: The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes, Thomas Hoving, Simon & Schuster, 1996. Copies, replicas, reproductions and
pastiche A pastiche is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface (called the "matrix" or "support"). The medium is common ...

pastiche
s are often legitimate works, and the distinction between a legitimate reproduction and deliberate forgery is blurred. For example,
Guy Hain Guy Hain is a French art forger who produced number of fake bronze sculptures. Guy Hain began as a seller of veterinary products. In his job he met a number of veterinarians who had antique bronze sculptures of animals and developed an interes ...
used original molds to reproduce several of
Auguste Rodin François Auguste René Rodin (12 November 184017 November 1917) was a French sculptor Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts The visual arts are art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture Sculpture is the b ...

Auguste Rodin
's sculptures. However, when Hain then signed the reproductions with the name of Rodin's original
foundry A foundry is a factory A factory, manufacturing plant or a production plant is an industrial site, often a complex consisting of several buildings filled with machinery A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply forces an ...

foundry
, the works became deliberate forgeries.


Artists

File:Johan Barthold Jongkind 005.jpg, ''Strand von Ste. Adresse'', 1863, by
Johan Barthold Jongkind Johan Barthold Jongkind (3 June 1819 – 9 February 1891) was a Dutch painter and printmaker. He painted marine landscapes in a free manner and is regarded as a forerunner of Impressionism Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement charac ...

Johan Barthold Jongkind
. File:Skating in Holland-J.B. Jongkind forgery.jpg, ''Skating in Holland'', 1890-1900, signed "Jongkind" in the lower left hand corner, but is actually a forgery by an unknown author. File:Forgery Signature Close up.jpg, Signatures from the two works shown to the left. Top: authentic Jongkind, bottom: signature on forgery.
An art forger must be at least somewhat proficient in the type of art he is trying to imitate. Many forgers were once fledgling artists who tried, unsuccessfully, to break into the market, eventually resorting to forgery. Sometimes, an original item is borrowed or stolen from the owner in order to create a copy. Forgers will then return the copy to the owner, keeping the original for himself. In 1799, a
self-portrait A self-portrait is a representation of an artist that is drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by that artist. Although self-portraits have been made since the earliest times, it is not until the Early Renaissance in the mid-15th century ...
by
Albrecht Dürer Albrecht Dürer (; ; 21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528),Müller, Peter O. (1993) ''Substantiv-Derivation in Den Schriften Albrecht Dürers'', Walter de Gruyter. . sometimes spelled in English as Durer or Duerer (without an Umlaut (linguistics), umlau ...

Albrecht Dürer
which had hung in the
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...

Nuremberg
Town Hall since the 16th century, was loaned to . The painter made a copy of the original and returned the copy in place of the original. The forgery was discovered in 1805, when the original came up for auction and was purchased for the royal collection. Although many art forgers reproduce works solely for money, some have claimed that they have created forgeries to expose the credulity and snobbishness of the art world. Essentially the artists claim, usually after they have been caught, that they have performed only "
hoax A hoax is a falsehood deliberately fabricated to masquerade as the truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, rumor A rumour (British English), or rumor (American English; American and British English spelling diffe ...

hoax
es of exposure". Some exposed forgers have later sold their reproductions honestly, by attributing them as copies, and some have actually gained enough notoriety to become famous in their own right. Forgeries painted by the late
Elmyr de Hory Elmyr de Hory (born Elemér Albert Hoffmann; April 14, 1906 – December 11, 1976) was a Hungarian-born painter and art forger, who is said to have sold over a thousand art forgeries to reputable art galleries all over the world. His forgeries g ...
, featured in the film ''
F for Fake ''F for Fake'' (french: link=no, Vérités et mensonges, "Truths and lies") is a 1973 docudrama film co-written, directed by, and starring Orson Welles George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American actor, directo ...
'' directed by
Orson Welles George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American director, actor, screenwriter, and producer who is remembered for his innovative work in radio, theatre and film. He is considered to be among the greatest and most in ...

Orson Welles
, have become so valuable that forged de Horys have appeared on the market. A peculiar case was that of the artist
Han van Meegeren #REDIRECT Han van Meegeren#REDIRECT Han van Meegeren Henricus Antonius "Han" van Meegeren (; 10 October 1889 – 30 December 1947) was a Dutch painter and portraitist, considered one of the most ingenious Art forgery, art forgers of the 20th centu ...
who became famous by creating "the finest Vermeer ever" and exposing that feat eight years later in 1945. His own work became valuable as well, which in turn attracted other forgers. One of these forgers was his son
Jacques van Meegeren Jacques Henri Emil van Meegeren (26 August 1912 – 26 October 1977) was a Dutch illustrator and painter. He is also considered to be a forger of the work of his father, Han van Meegeren, convicted of forging old masters and fraud. He was, ...
who was in the unique position to write certificates stating that a particular piece of art that he was offering "was created by his father, Han van Meegeren". Forgers usually copy works by deceased artists, but a small number imitate living artists. In May 2004, Norwegian painter Kjell Nupen noticed that the
Kristianstad Kristianstad (, ; older spelling from Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people w ...

Kristianstad
gallery was selling unauthorized, signed copies of his work. American art forger Ken Perenyi published a memoir in 2012 in which he detailed decades of his activities creating thousands of authentic-looking replicas of masters such as James Buttersworth,
Martin Johnson Heade Martin Johnson Heade (August 11, 1819 – September 4, 1904) was an American painter Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a sub ...
, and
Charles Bird King Charles Bird King (September 26, 1785 – March 18, 1862) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of Amer ...
, and selling the forgeries to famous auction houses such as
Christie's Christie's is a British auction house An auction is usually a process of buying and selling goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economi ...

Christie's
and
Sotheby's Sotheby's () is a British-founded American multinational corporation with headquarters in New York City. It is one of the world's largest brokers of fine art, fine and decorative art, jewellery, and collectibles. It has 80 locations in 40 countr ...

Sotheby's
and wealthy private collectors.


Dealers

Claims have surfaced recently, alleging that
art dealer An art dealer is a person or company that buys and sells Work of art, works of art, or acts as the intermediary between the buyers and sellers of art. An art dealer in contemporary art typically seeks out various artists to represent, and builds ...
s and auction houses have been overly eager, by accepting forgeries as genuine, and selling them quickly, to turn a profit. If a dealer finds the work is a forgery, he may quietly withdraw the piece and return it to its previous owner—giving the forger an opportunity to sell it elsewhere. Some forgers have created false paper trails relating to a piece, in order to make the work appear genuine. British art dealer
John Drewe John Drewe (born 1948) is a British purveyor of art forgery, art forgeries who commissioned artist John Myatt to paint them. Drewe earned about £1.8 million executing these art crimes. Early life Drewe was born John Cockett in 1948 in Sussex, En ...
created false documents of
provenance Provenance (from the French ''provenir'', 'to come from/forth') is the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object. The term was originally mostly used in relation to works of art but is now used in similar senses i ...

provenance
for works forged by his partner John Myatt, and even inserted pictures of forgeries into the archives of prominent art institutions. In 2016, Eric Spoutz plead guilty to one count of wire fraud related to the sale of hundreds of falsely attributed artworks to American masters accompanied by forged provenance documents. Spoutz was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit the $1.45 million he made from the scheme and pay $154,100 in restitution."Forging Papers to Sell Fake Art," Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release), 6 April 2017 Experts and institutions may also be reluctant to admit their own fallibility. Art historian Thomas Hoving estimates that various types of forged art comprise up to 40% of the art market, though others find this estimate to be absurdly high.


Methods of detection

The most obvious forgeries are revealed as clumsy copies of previous art. A forger may try to create a "new" work by combining the elements of more than one work. The forger may omit details typical to the artist they are trying to imitate, or add
anachronism An anachronism (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...
s, in an attempt to claim that the forged work is a slightly different copy, or a previous version of a more famous work. To detect the work of a skilled forger, investigators must rely on other methods.


Technique of examination

Often a thorough examination (sometimes referred to as Morellian Analysis) of the piece is enough to determine authenticity. For example, a sculpture may have been created with obviously modern methods and tools. Some forgers have used artistic methods inconsistent with those of the original artists, such as incorrect characteristic brushwork, perspective, preferred themes or techniques, or have used colors that were not available during the artist's lifetime to create the painting. Some forgers have dipped pieces in chemicals to "age" them and some have even tried to imitate worm marks by drilling holes into objects (see image, right). While attempting to authenticate artwork, experts will also determine the piece's
provenance Provenance (from the French ''provenir'', 'to come from/forth') is the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object. The term was originally mostly used in relation to works of art but is now used in similar senses i ...

provenance
. If the item has no paper trail, it is more likely to be a forgery. Other techniques forgers use which might indicate that a painting is not authentic include: * Frames, either new or old, that have been altered in order to make forged paintings look more genuine. * To hide inconsistencies or manipulations, forgers will sometimes glue paper, either new or old, to a painting's back, or cut a forged painting from its original size. * Recently added labels or artist listings on unsigned works of art, unless these labels are as old as the art itself, should cause suspicion. * While art restorers legitimately use new stretcher bars when the old bars have worn, new stretcher bars on old canvases might be an indication that a forger is attempting to alter the painting's identity. * Old nail holes or mounting marks on the back of a piece might indicate that a painting has been removed from its frame, doctored and then replaced into either its original frame or different frame. * Signatures on paintings or graphics that look inconsistent with the art itself (either fresher, bolder, etc.). * Unsigned work that a dealer has "heard" is by a particular artist. More recently, magnetic signatures, such as those used in the
ink Ink is a gel, Sol (colloid), sol, or Solution (chemistry), solution that contains at least one colourant, such as a dye or pigment, and is used to color a surface to produce an image, writing, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing or writing ...

ink
of
bank notes A banknote (often known as a bill (in the US and Canada), paper money, or simply a note) is a type of negotiable promissory note A promissory note, sometimes referred to as a note payable, is a legal instrument ''Legal instrument'' is a l ...
, are becoming popular for authentication of artworks.


Forensic authentication

If examination of a piece fails to reveal whether it is authentic or forged, investigators may attempt to authenticate the object using some, or all, of the forensic methods below: *
Carbon dating Radiocarbon dating (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for Chronological dating, determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of carbon-14, radiocarbon, a radioactive Isotopes ...
is used to measure the age of an object up to 10,000 years old. *"
White Lead White lead is the basic lead carbonate 2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2. It is a complex salt, containing both carbonate and hydroxide ions. White lead occurs naturally as a mineral, in which context it is known as hydrocerussite, a hydrate In chemistry ...

White Lead
" dating is used to pinpoint the age of an object up to 1,600 years old. *Conventional
x-ray An X-ray, or, much less commonly, X-radiation, is a penetrating form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Moti ...

x-ray
can be used to detect earlier work present under the surface of a painting (see image, right). Sometimes artists will legitimately re-use their own canvasses, but if the painting on top is supposed to be from the 17th century and the one underneath shows people in 19th-century dress, the scientist will assume the top painting is not authentic. Also x-rays can be used to view inside an object to determine if the object has been altered or repaired. **
X-ray diffraction X-ray crystallography (XRC) is the experimental science determining the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ions) are arranged in a ...
(the object bends x-rays) is used to analyze the components that make up the paint an artist used, and to detect
pentimenti A pentimento (plural pentimenti), in painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface (called the "matrix" or "support"). The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but o ...

pentimenti
(see image, right). **
X-ray fluorescence X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is the emission of characteristic "secondary" (or fluorescent) X-rays from a material that has been excited by being bombarded with high-energy X-rays or gamma rays. The phenomenon is widely used for elemental analysis and ...
(bathing the object with radiation causes it to emit X-rays) which can reveal if the metals in a metal sculpture or the composition of pigments are too pure, or newer than their supposed age. This technique can also reveal the artist's (or forger's) fingerprints. *Ultraviolet
fluorescence Fluorescence is the emission of light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as ha ...

fluorescence
and
infrared Infrared (IR), sometimes called infrared light, is electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior ...

infrared
analysis are used to detect repairs or earlier painting present on canvasses. *Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (AAS) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (
ICP-MS Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a type of mass spectrometry Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the of s. The results are presented as a ', a plot of intensity as a function of the m ...

ICP-MS
) are used to detect anomalies in paintings and materials. If an element is present that the investigators know was not used historically in objects of this type, then the object is not authentic. * Pyrolysis–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) can be used to analyze the paint-binding medium. Similar to AAS and ICP-MS, if there are elements detected that were not used in the period, or not available in the region where the art is from, then the object is not authentic. *
Stable isotope The term stable isotope has a meaning similar to stable nuclide Stable nuclides are nuclide A nuclide (or nucleide, from atomic nucleus, nucleus, also known as nuclear species) is a class of atoms characterized by their number of protons, '' ...
analysis can be used to determine where the marble used in a sculpture was quarried. *
Thermoluminescence ''Figure 4'': Illustrated method of passively monitoring sand input (Keizars, 2003). Thermoluminescence is a form of luminescence that is exhibited by certain crystalline materials, such as some minerals, when previously absorbed energy from ...
(TL) is used to date pottery. TL is the light produced by heat; older pottery produces more TL when heated than a newer piece. *A feature of genuine paintings sometimes used to detect forgery is
craquelure Craquelure (french: craquelé, it, crettatura) is a fine pattern of dense cracking formed on the surface of materials. It can be a result of drying, aging, intentional patterning, or a combination of all three. The term is most often used to ref ...
.


Digital authentication

Statistical analysis Statistical inference is the process of using data analysis to infer properties of an underlying probability distribution, distribution of probability.Upton, G., Cook, I. (2008) ''Oxford Dictionary of Statistics'', OUP. . Inferential statistical ...

Statistical analysis
of
digital image A digital image is an image An image (from la, imago) is an artifact that depicts visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment through photopic vision (day ...
s of paintings is a new method that has recently been used to detect forgeries. Using a technique called
wavelet A wavelet is a wave In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion a ...

wavelet
decomposition, a picture is broken down into a collection of more basic images called sub-bands. These sub-bands are analyzed to determine textures, assigning a
frequency Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time A unit of time is any particular time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur in an apparen ...

frequency
to each sub-band. The broad strokes of a surface such as a blue sky would show up as mostly low frequency sub-bands whereas the fine strokes in blades of grass would produce high-frequency sub-bands. A group of 13 drawings attributed to
Pieter Brueghel the Elder Pieter Bruegel (also Brueghel or Breughel) the Elder (, ; ; – 9 September 1569) was the most significant artist of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting '', now considered a copy of Pieter Bruegel the Elder Dutch and Flemish Renaissance pain ...
was tested using the wavelet decomposition method. Five of the drawings were known to be imitations. The analysis was able to correctly identify the five forged paintings. The method was also used on the painting ''Virgin and Child with Saints'', created in the studios of
Pietro Perugino Pietro Perugino (, ; – 1523), born Pietro Vannucci, was an Italian Renaissance The Italian Renaissance ( it, Rinascimento ) was a period in Italian history The history of Italy covers the Ancient Period, the Middle Ages and the modern ...

Pietro Perugino
. Historians have long suspected that Perugino painted only a portion of the work. The wavelet decomposition method indicated that at least four different artists had worked on the painting.


Problems with authentication

Art specialists with expertise in art authentication began to surface in the art world during the late 1850s. At that time they were usually historians or museum
curator A curator (from la, cura, meaning "to take care") is a manager or overseer. When working with cultural organizations, a curator is typically a "collections curator" or an "exhibitions curator", and has multifaceted tasks dependent on the parti ...
s, writing books about paintings, sculpture, and other art forms. Communication among the different specialties was poor, and they often made mistakes when authenticating pieces. While many books and art catalogues were published prior to 1900, many were not widely circulated, and often did not contain information about contemporary artwork. In addition, specialists prior to the 1900s lacked many of the important technological means that experts use to authenticate art today. Traditionally, a work in an artist's "
catalogue raisonné A ''catalogue raisonné'' (or ''critical catalogue'') is a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known artworks A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of aesthetic Aesthetics, or estheti ...
" has been key to confirming the authenticity, and thus value. Omission from an artist's catalogue raisonné indeed can prove fatal to any potential resale of a work, notwithstanding any proof the owner may offer to support authenticity. The fact that experts do not always agree on the authenticity of a particular item makes the matter of
provenance Provenance (from the French ''provenir'', 'to come from/forth') is the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object. The term was originally mostly used in relation to works of art but is now used in similar senses i ...

provenance
more complex. Some artists have even accepted copies as their own work -
Picasso Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and Scenic design, theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of ...

Picasso
once said that he "would sign a very good forgery".
Camille Corot Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot ( , , ; July 16, 1796 – February 22, 1875) was a French landscape and portrait painter as well as a printmaker 300px, Rembrandt, ''Self-portrait'', etching">Self-portrait.html" ;"title="Rembrandt, ''S ...

Camille Corot
painted more than 700 works, but also signed copies made by others in his name, because he felt honored to be copied. Occasionally work that has previously been declared a forgery is later accepted as genuine; Vermeer's ''Young Woman Seated at the Virginals'' had been regarded as a forgery from 1947 until March 2004, when it was finally declared genuine, although some experts still disagree. At times
restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
of a piece is so extensive that the original is essentially replaced when new materials are used to supplement older ones. An art restorer may also add or remove details on a painting, in an attempt to make the painting more saleable on the contemporary art market. This, however, is not a modern phenomenon - historical painters often "retouched" other artist's works by repainting some of the background or details. Many forgeries still escape detection;
Han van Meegeren #REDIRECT Han van Meegeren#REDIRECT Han van Meegeren Henricus Antonius "Han" van Meegeren (; 10 October 1889 – 30 December 1947) was a Dutch painter and portraitist, considered one of the most ingenious Art forgery, art forgers of the 20th centu ...
, possibly the most famous forger of the 20th century, used historical
canvas Canvas is an extremely durable plain-woven fabric A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibre Fiber or fibre (from la, fibra, links=no ...

canvas
ses for his Vermeer forgeries and created his own
pigments A pigment is a colored material that is completely or nearly insoluble in water. In contrast, dyes are typically soluble, at least at some stage in their use. Generally dyes are often organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compou ...

pigments
to ensure that they were authentic. He confessed to creating the forgeries only after he was charged with
treason Treason is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Cr ...
, an offense which carried the
death penalty Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ' ...

death penalty
. So masterful were his forgeries that van Meegeren was forced to create another "Vermeer" while under police guard, to prove himself innocent of the treason charges. A recent, thought-provoking instance of potential art forgery involves the
Getty kouros The Getty kouros is an over-life-sized statue A statue is a free-standing in which the realistic, full-length figures of persons or animals are carved or in a durable material such as wood, metal or stone. Typical statues are life-sized ...

Getty kouros
, the authenticity of which has not been resolved. The Getty Kouros was offered, along with seven other pieces, to The J. Paul Getty Museum in
Malibu, California Malibu ( ; es, Malibú; ChumashChumash may refer to: *Chumash (Judaism), a Hebrew word for the Pentateuch, used in Judaism *Chumash people, a Native American people of southern California *Chumashan languages, indigenous languages of Cali ...
, in the spring of 1983. For the next 12 years art historians, conservators, and
archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biological, geological, ...

archaeologist
s studied the Kouros, scientific tests were performed and showed that the surface could not have been created artificially. However, when several of the other pieces offered with the Kouros were shown to be forgeries, its authenticity was again questioned. In May 1992, the Kouros was displayed in
Athens, Greece , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens The Acropo ...
, at an international conference, called to determine its authenticity. The conference failed to solve the problem; while most art historians and archeologists denounced it, the scientists present believed the statue to be authentic. To this day, the Getty Kouros' authenticity remains a mystery and the statue is displayed with the date: "Greek, 530 B.C. or modern forgery". To combat these problems some initiatives are being developed. The Authentication in Art Foundation. Established in 2012 by experts from different fields involved with the authenticity of art. The aim of the foundation is to bring together experts from different specialities to combat art forgery. Among its members are noted experts such as David Bomford,
Martin Kemp Martin John Kemp (born 10 October 1961) is an English actor, musician and director, known as the bass player, bassist in the New wave music, new wave band Spandau Ballet and for his role as Steve Owen (EastEnders), Steve Owen in ''EastEnders' ...
, and Mauricio Seracini. The Cultural Heritage Science Open Source – CHSOS, founded by Antonino Cosentino. They “provide practical methods for the scientific examination of fine arts, historical and archaeological objects”. The International Foundation for Art research – IFAR. Established 1969, it is a “not-for-profit educational and research organization dedicated to integrity in the visual arts. IFAR offers impartial and authoritative information on authenticity, ownership, theft, and other artistic, legal, and ethical issues concerning art objects. IFAR serves as a bridge between the public, and the scholarly and commercial art communities”. Institute of Appraisal and Authentication of works of Art – i3A. A not-for-profit organization that gathers professionals of different fields, providing equipment and preparing procedure manuals aligned with international techniques, in the search of further knowledge on the production of Brazilian artists.


Photographic forgery

Recently, photographs have become the target of forgers, and as the market value of these works increase, so will forgery continue. Following their deaths, works by
Man Ray Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky; August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976) was an American visual artist who spent most of his career in . He was a significant contributor to the and movements, although his ties to each were informal. He p ...
and
Ansel Adams Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was an American landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white images of the American West The Western United States (also called the American West, the Fa ...

Ansel Adams
became frequent targets of forgery. The detection of forged photography is particularly difficult, as experts must be able to tell the difference between originals and reprints. In the case of photographer Man Ray print production was often poorly managed during his lifetime, and many of his negatives were stolen by people who had access to his studio. The possession of the photo-negatives would allow a forger to print an unlimited number of fake prints, which he could then pass off as original. Fake prints would be nearly indistinguishable from originals, if the same photographic paper was used. Since unused photographic paper has a short (2–5 years) useful life, and the composition of photographic paper was frequently changed, the fakes would have had to be produced not long after the originals. Further complicating matters, following Man Ray's death, control of printing copyrights fell to his widow, Juliet Man Ray, and her brother, who approved production of a large number of prints that Man Ray himself had earlier rejected. While these reprints are of limited value, the originals, printed during Man Ray's lifetime, have skyrocketed in value, leading many forgers to alter the reprints, so that they appear to be original.


US legal issues

In the United States, criminal prosecutions of art forgers are possible under federal, state and/or local laws. For example, federal prosecutions have been successful using generalized criminal statutes, including the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act is a United States federal law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law Law is a system A system is a group of In ...
("RICO"). A successful RICO charge was brought against a family which had sold counterfeit prints purportedly by
Chagall Marc Chagall; russian: Марк Заха́рович Шага́л ; be, Марк Захаравіч Шагал . (born Moishe Shagal; 28 March 1985) was a Russian-French artist of Belarusian Jewish origin. An early modernist , Solomon Gugg ...
, Miró, and Dalí. The defendants were also found guilty of other federal crimes including conspiracy to defraud,
money laundering Money laundering is the process of changing large amounts of money obtained from crimes, such as drug trafficking Uncoated tablets, consisting of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders. Aspi ...
, and postal fraud. Federal prosecutors are also able to prosecute forgers using the federal
wire fraud Mail fraud and wire fraud are federal crimes in the United States that involve mail The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcard A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin Card stock, cardboard, typic ...
or
mail fraud Mail fraud and wire fraud are federal crimes in the United States that involve mail The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcard A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin Card stock, cardboard, typic ...
statutes where the defendants used such communications. However, federal criminal prosecutions against art forgers are seldom brought due in part to high evidentiary burdens and competing law enforcement priorities. For example, internet art frauds now appear in the federal courts' rulings that one may study in the PACER court records. Some frauds are done on the internet on a popular auction websites. Traces are readily available to see the full extent of the frauds from a forensic standpoint or even basic due diligence of professionals who may research matters including sources of PACER / enforcing authority records and on the internet. Prosecution is also possible under state criminal laws, such as prohibitions against criminal fraud, or against the simulation of personal signatures. However, in order to trigger criminal liability under states' laws, the government must prove that the defendant had intent to defraud. The evidentiary burden, as in all criminal prosecutions, is high; proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" is required. Art forgery may also be subject to civil sanctions. The
Federal Trade Commission The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government Independent agencies of the United States federal government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. gover ...

Federal Trade Commission
, for example, has used the
FTC Act The Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 was a United States federal law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or ...
to combat an array of unfair trade practices in the art market. An FTC Act case was successfully brought against a purveyor of fake Dalí prints in FTC v. Magui Publishers, Inc., who was permanently enjoined from fraudulent activity and ordered to restore their illegal profits. In that case, the defendant had collected millions of dollars from his sale of forged prints. At the state level, art forgery may constitute a species of fraud, material misrepresentation, or breach of contract. The Uniform Commercial Code provides contractually-based relief to duped buyers based on warranties of authenticity. The predominant civil theory to address art forgery remains civil fraud. When substantiating a civil fraud claim, the plaintiff is generally required to prove that the defendant falsely represented a material fact, that this representation was made with intent to deceive, that the plaintiff reasonably relied on the representation, and the representation resulted in damages to the plaintiff. Some legal experts have recommended strengthening existing intellectual property laws to address the growing problem of art forgeries proliferating in the mass market. They argue that the existing legal regime is ineffective in combating this growing trend.


Art crime education

In summer 2009, ARCA - the Association for Research into Crimes against Art - began offering the first postgraduate program dedicated to the study of art crime. The
Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Association for Research into Crimes against Art, ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection is an unaccredited multidisciplinary “postgraduate” certificate program that specializes in the study of ar ...
includes coursework that discusses art fakes and forgery. Education on art crime also requires research efforts from the scholarly community through analysis on fake and forged artworks.


Fictional art forgery


Film

*Orson Welles directed a film about art forgery called ''
F for Fake ''F for Fake'' (french: link=no, Vérités et mensonges, "Truths and lies") is a 1973 docudrama film co-written, directed by, and starring Orson Welles George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American actor, directo ...
''. *''
How to Steal a Million ''How to Steal a Million'' is a 1966 American heist comedy film A comedy film is a category of film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ...
'' stars
Audrey Hepburn Audrey Hepburn (born Audrey Kathleen Ruston; 4 May 1929 – 20 January 1993) was a British actress and humanitarian. Recognised as both a film and fashion icon, she was ranked by the American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) ...

Audrey Hepburn
joining a burglar (
Peter O'Toole Peter Seamus O'Toole (; 2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013) was a British stage and film actor. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA ) is a drama school in London, England, that provides voc ...
) to prevent technical examinations on a
Cellini Benvenuto Cellini (, ; 3 November 150013 February 1571) was an Italian goldsmith A goldsmith is a Metalworking, metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Nowadays they mainly specialize in jewellery-making b ...

Cellini
sculpture that would expose both her grandfather and father as art forgers (the latter working on and
van Gogh Vincent Willem van Gogh (; 30 March 185329 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art ''; by Johannes Vermeer Johannes Vermeer ( , , #Pronun ...
). *In ''
Incognito Incognito is an English adjective meaning "in disguise", "having taken steps to conceal one's identity". Incognito may also refer to: Film and television * ''Incognito'' (1937 film), a Danish film * ''Incognito'' (1997 film), an American crime ...
'' (1998, directed by John Badham and starring Jason Patric), an expert in forging famous "third tier" artists' paintings is hired to paint a Rembrandt, but is framed for murder after meeting a beautiful Rembrandt expert. *In the 1999 remake of ''The Thomas Crown Affair (1999 film), The Thomas Crown Affair'', Pierce Brosnan's millionaire character plays cat-and-mouse about a stolen (and then, on his initiative, forged) Claude Monet, Monet painting with an insurance investigator (Rene Russo). *In the film ''The Moderns'' the lead character, artist Nick Hart, forges several paintings, including a Cézanne, for his art dealer. These are sold to a wealthy collector who, upon being informed that they are fakes, destroys them in the presence of company. *The 2001 documentary film about international art forgery, ''The Forgery'', consists of interviews with the well-known artist Corneille (Guillaume Cornelis van Beverloo) and Dutch art forger Geert Jan Jansen. *In the Polish comedy ''Vinci (film), Vinci'' two thieves are commissioned to steal Leonardo da Vinci's ''Lady with an Ermine''. One of them does not want the precious painting to disappear from Czartoryski Museum and orders a forgery of it. *In the 2014 film ''The Forger (2014 film), The Forger'', the title character, played by John Travolta, attempts to forge a well known piece of art. *In the 2007 film ''St Trinian's (film), St Trinians'' the main characters steal and frame Vermeer's ''Girl with a Pearl Earring''.


TV series

*''White Collar (TV series), White Collar'' is a series about Neal Caffrey, a convicted art forger who starts working with the FBI. *''Lovejoy'', about a roguish art dealer with a reputation for being able to spot forgeries


Literature

*Tom Ripley is involved in an artwork forgery scheme in several of Patricia Highsmith's crime novels, most notably ''Ripley Under Ground'' (1970), in which he is confronted by a collector who correctly suspects that the paintings sold by Tom are forgeries. The novel was Ripley Under Ground (film), adapted to film in 2005, and the 1977 film ''The American Friend'' is also partially based on the novel. *In Robertson Davies' 1985 novel ''What's Bred in the Bone'', protagonist Francis Cornish studies with an accomplished art forger and is inspired to produce two paintings which are subsequently accepted by experts as original 16th-century artworks. *In Russell H. Greenan's novel ''It Happened in Boston?'', the protagonist is a madman, a serial killer, and an astonishingly good artist in the Old Master style, fooled into creating a painting that becomes accepted as a da Vinci. *''The Art Thief'', an international best-selling novel by professor of art history Noah Charney, features a series of forgeries and art heists. *In Clive Barker's 1991 novel ''Imajica'', the protagonist, John Furie Zacharias, known as "Gentle," makes his living as a master art forger. *William Gaddis' acclaimed 1955 novel ''The Recognitions'' centers on the life of an art forger and prodigal Calvinist named Wyatt Gwyon and his struggle to find meaning within art. The novel itself discusses the process and history of forgery in depth as well as the possible artistic merit of forged paintings. *David Mitchell (author), David Mitchell's novel ''Ghostwritten'' features a section set in the State Hermitage Museum in Russia, and follows a crime syndicate that steals artwork from the museum to sell on the black market, replacing the originals with high quality forgeries. *The plot of Dominic Smith (author), Dominic Smith's novel ''The Last Painting of Sara de Vos'' revolves around a forged work by the fictional 17th century Dutch painter.


See also

* Archaeological forgery * Authenticity in art * Forgery * Museum of Art Fakes, Vienna * Works of Art with Contested Provenance Notable forgeries *Etruscan terracotta warriors *Flower portrait *Michelangelo's Cupid, Michelangelo's 'Cupid' *Rospigliosi Cup sometimes referred to as the Cellini Cup *Samson Ceramics forgeries/reproductions Known art forgers and dealers of forged art * Giovanni Bastianini (1838–1868), Italian forger of renaissance sculptures * Wolfgang Beltracchi (born 1951), German forger * William Blundell (born 1947), forged Australian painters * Yves Chaudron, France - forged ''Mona Lisa'' (1911) * Zhang Daqian (1899–1993), forged Chinese art * Alceo Dossena (1878–1937), Italian sculptor *
John Drewe John Drewe (born 1948) is a British purveyor of art forgery, art forgeries who commissioned artist John Myatt to paint them. Drewe earned about £1.8 million executing these art crimes. Early life Drewe was born John Cockett in 1948 in Sussex, En ...
(born 1948), sold the work of John Myatt * Shaun Greenhalgh (born 1960), British forger *
Guy Hain Guy Hain is a French art forger who produced number of fake bronze sculptures. Guy Hain began as a seller of veterinary products. In his job he met a number of veterinarians who had antique bronze sculptures of animals and developed an interes ...
(living), forged Auguste Rodin, Rodin bronzes * Eric Hebborn (1934–1996), British-born forger of old masters *
Elmyr de Hory Elmyr de Hory (born Elemér Albert Hoffmann; April 14, 1906 – December 11, 1976) was a Hungarian-born painter and art forger, who is said to have sold over a thousand art forgeries to reputable art galleries all over the world. His forgeries g ...
(1906–1976), Hungarian-born painter of
Picasso Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and Scenic design, theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of ...

Picasso
s * Geert Jan Jansen (born 1943), Dutch painter Karel Appel recognized one of Jansen's forgeries as his own work. * Tom Keating (1917–1984), British art restorer and forger who claimed to have faked more than 2,000 paintings by over 100 different artists * Mark A. Landis (born 1955), American forger who donated his works to many American museums * Fernand Legros (1919–1983), purveyor of forged art *
Han van Meegeren #REDIRECT Han van Meegeren#REDIRECT Han van Meegeren Henricus Antonius "Han" van Meegeren (; 10 October 1889 – 30 December 1947) was a Dutch painter and portraitist, considered one of the most ingenious Art forgery, art forgers of the 20th centu ...
(1889–1947), Dutchman who painted Johannes Vermeer, Vermeers * John Myatt (born 1945), British painter, created forgeries for John Drewe * Ken Perenyi (born 1947), American, forged works of American masters * Ely Sakhai (born 1952), who twice sold Paul Gauguin, Gauguin's ''Vase de Fleurs'' * Jean-Pierre Schecroun (active 1950s), forged Picasso * Émile Schuffenecker (1851–1934), French forger with Otto Wacker * David Stein (art forger), David Stein (1935–1999), U.S. art dealer and painter * Tony Tetro (born 1950), prolific U.S. forger * Spanish Forger, The Spanish Forger (early 20th Century), French forger of medieval miniatures * William J. Toye (1931-2018), forged and sold the work of Clementine Hunter * Eduardo de Valfierno (ca. 1850–ca. 1931), art dealer who worked with forger Yves Chaudron * Otto Wacker (1898–1970), German purveyor of fake Vincent van Gogh, Van Goghs * Kenneth Walton (living), prosecuted for selling forged paintings on eBay * E. M. Washington, Earl Washington (born 1962), forger of prints that he attributed to a grandfather, allegedly named "E[arl] M[ack] Washington".


References


Further reading


''A History of Art Forgery.''

''Judging the Authenticity of Prints by The Masters.''
by art historian David Rudd Cycleback


''Careful Collecting: Fakes and Forgeries''





Art Signature Dictionary, One of the largest collections of counterfeit art
See more than 4000 pictures of forged paintings and signatures from over 300 renowned artists. *


External links


The Association for Research into Crimes Against Art

Postgraduate Certificate Program
{{DEFAULTSORT:Art Forgery Art forgery, All articles with unsourced statements