Fake scandal grows
January 11 2012
Picture: The Art Newspaper
The Art Newspaper has further news of the fake scandals currently causing alarm in the modern and contemporary art world. Headlining the piece is an alleged $17m fake Jackson Pollock, and a 'Spanish Elegy' (above) attributed to Robert Motherwell. Both were bought from the now closed New York gallery Knoedler (above right). These US fakes come hot on the heels of the German fakes produced by the recently jailed Wolfgang Beltracchi.
So far so shocking. But I'm always amused by the excuses given by those whom the fakers have fooled. Says The Art Newspaper:
Both cases and the Beltracchi investigation lay bare the inherent problems of authenticating works of art in an industry reliant on reputation and trust—and the apparent ease with which determined forgers can pass works through the system.
[art dealer Marc] Blondeau, who was also a victim of Beltracchi, says that: “We are facing a very serious problem, especially because markets are so overheated—historically, when markets are strong, forgeries appear.” He adds of his own involvement: “I was fooled—the works were an incredible quality.”
Isn't this all phooey? Even a casual glance at the Beltracchi fakes (here and here) tells you that they are rubbish paintings. The real problem, surely, is the inability of those who work in the modern and contemporary world to tell if a painting is actually any good or not. Today, too much modern and contemporary art is judged primarily by hype and value: the name on the label is more important than the paint on the canvas. It's no wonder that such a system is susceptible to fakes.