How a bunch of forgers fooled the art world

December 1 2011

Image of How a bunch of forgers fooled the art world

Picture: The City Review

German police have released the full list of those pictures sold by the recently-jailed gang of master forgers. It seems they had been fooling people for decades. The Art Newspaper has the (unillustrated) list here. I've had a dig around and can reveal some of the images that were offered by some of the top names in the art trade. 

La Ciotat by 'Emile Othon Friesz' (above) had an estimate of $1-1.5m at Christie's sale of 3rd November 2009 in New York, but didn't sell. Of this truly execrable painting, Christie's catalogue said that it was "among Friesz's most radical Fauve paintings - the artist has rendered nature in a supercharged, color-driven, ecstatically expressionist manner that goes beyond anything else that even his fauve colleagues were doing at this time." How's about that for a bit of total and utter art-world horse-shit? Excuse my language, but such drivel typifies what is wrong with the modern and contemporary art market. It's a phoney comment on a phoney picture, and typical of the hyperbolic nonsense used to justify rubbish paintings. 

[More examples below]

Bateaux a Collioure by 'Andre Derain' (above), sold at Christie's Impressionist and Modern Evening sale in London, 18th June 2007, lot 5 for £2m (estimated at £800,000-£1,200,000). It has been deleted from the Christie's online catalogue.  

At Sotheby's we find Tremblement de Terre by 'Max Ernst' (above), sold in New York 4th November 2009 for $1.14m. The catalogue said 'the present work belongs to one of the most creative periods in Max Ernst's oeuvre, marked by a constant stream of technical experimentation and invention.' This, I suppose, is a creative way of describing a dodgy-looking Ernst you're not sure about...

Course Cycliste a Bordeaux by 'Andre Lhote' (above) was sold at Christie's London 29th November 1995 for £18,400, and then subsequently by Sotheby's in 1998 for $107,000.

Finally, Madchen mit Schwan by 'Heinrich Campendok', sold at Christie's London, 11th October 1995, for £67,500 in 1995. This is still online, tho' no image, with a certificate of authenticity from Campendonk expert Dr Andrea Firmenich. The catalogue stated that 'This large colourful work is typical of Campendonk's style between 1917 and 1919'.

The list of shame goes on... I will try and put some more images up if I have time. Here's an earlier post I had on others who were fooled. And remember, it is all but impossible to fake an Old Master...

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