Archivos por Etiqueta: falsificación artística

Obras de arte falsas co-comisariadas por el FBI

En Hyperallergic nos explicaron por allá en el 2013 de una exposición bastante curiosa que añadió más leña al fuego sobre los debates sobre las falsificaciones…
Y es que en este caso se exhibieron obras de arte falsas interceptadas por el FBI…


In what might be the first-ever exhibition of artworks co-curated by an intelligence agency, a show has been mounted at Fordham University’s Center Gallery to showcase some of the finer specimens of forged art seized by the FBI’s Art Crimes team. Caveat Emptor, as the show is titled, was timed to coincide with the intelligence community’s biannual ICCS conference on cybersecurity — and the confab will be using the gallery space resplendent with forgeries as its central registration room.

How might one go about putting together a show of forgeries owned by the FBI? The show’s co-curator, Daniel Small, recently told Hyperallergic about the extended process. “The [FBI] gave me a much longer list of stuff that could be cleared, then I whittled it down to a group of 25. And then once I got into town [New York City] I went to the facility, I pulled some other stuff out, saw what they [the FBI] accepted, then brought it to Fordham and whittled it down to the 13 artists in the show.”

The collected works are intentionally uneven, but they share a common characteristic: “All of them forensically tested out, some are convincing, some are amazing, and some are terrible,” Small said. The identical Chagall “La Nappe Mauve” paintings, for instance, were the work of the prolific forger Ely Sakhai, who went to great lengths to procure period frames and canvases for his forgeries. Small added that the full provenance of some of the forgeries remains unknown to him, though the FBI plans on making the case files available to him, and he will in turn present this information as the show continues.

Taken together, the works in the show have the effect of forming a cartoonish canon, like the national museum of a very small country whose bureaucrats are Sotheby’s catalogue completists. Juxtaposed with the theatrics of power — the agencies represented at the conference include the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA —  Caveat Emptor, with its mercantilistic title recalling the whole affair’s intersection with the art market — has all the makings of an intriguing spectacle.

The tension isn’t lost on Small, who by working closely with a veteran Special Agent in the Bureau’s Art Crimes team was able to gain an unusually nuanced view of the Bureau’s attitudes toward art and art forgery. “From their position it’s all a very logistical thing … But the show isn’t just some tongue-in-cheek joke making fun of the FBI, at least how I think of it, but there are a lot of idiosyncrasies in the system.”


Artículo de Mostafa Heddaya

The Con Artist en 60 Minutes

Aquí un abstracto del programa ’60 Minutes’ del canal CSB que el domingo 23 de febrero fue dedicado al falsificador Wolfgang Beltracchi, cuyas pinturas son consideradas notables obras de falsificación. Según él mismo explica en el documental, corresponden a sus visiones e intuiciones sobre lo que los grandes pintores pudieron haber hecho o que pudieron haberse perdido. Lo curioso, pues, de este caso no son las “copias” de obras de arte que él llevó a cabo, sino su afirmación de ‘haber canalizado’ al artista para crear nuevas obras que  son atribuidas a tal o cual artista. Cuando se le arrestó en 2010 debido al component químico de uno de los blancos que usó, las casas de subastas que autentificaron sus falsificaciones fueron denunciadas. Y sus expertos ya no se atreven a emitir opiniones de autentificación. Hoy en día Wolfgang Beltracchi pinta bajo su propio nombre para enfrentarse a millones en demandas.

Heinrich Campendonk forge by Wolfgang Beltracchi

Mientrastanto, también se anuncia para el 6 de marzo una película sobre su persona, cuyo trailer ya está en vimeo.

Wolfgang Beltracchi

Y más abajo el script de ‘The Con Artist’ con Bob Simon de conrresponsal y Katherine Davis de productora: Wolfgang Beltracchi is a name you may never have heard before.  Very few people have. But his paintings have brought him millions and millions of dollars in a career that spanned nearly 40 years. They have made their way into museums, galleries, and private collections all over the world.  What makes him a story for us is that all his paintings are fakes. And what makes him an unusual forger is that he didn’t copy the paintings of great artists, but created new works which he imagined the artist might have painted or which might have gotten lost. Connoisseurs and dealers acknowledge that Beltracchi is the most successful art forger of our time — perhaps of all time. Brilliant not only as a painter, but as a conman of epic proportions.

Bob Simon: Are you the best forger in the world?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Maybe, yeah.  In the moment.

He agreed to meet with us in Cologne recently and took us to a small wooden bridge outside his home.  He volunteered to show us how he works. He was forging a Max Ernst, the German surrealist of the early 20th century.  Beltracchi was painting on this wooden bridge because Ernst had done much of his work on a wooden floor.

Bob Simon: I have seen Beltracchi forgeries on the cover of Christie’s catalogues.

Jeff Taylor: Yes, yes.

Bob Simon: That’s pretty good isn’t it?

Jeff Taylor: It is really good, it is really good

Jeff Taylor teaches arts management at Purchase College. He says though there is no shortage of gifted forgers, Beltracchi holds the title. He has made more money than any other art forger ever.

Jeff Taylor: He combined all the nefarious techniques of everybody who came before him and made very important innovations in exactly what is essential.

Bob Simon: You have called him an evil genius?

Jeff Taylor: Yes.

Bob Simon: So aside from being a very talented painter, he was also a very accomplished conman?

Jeff Taylor: Absolutely one of the best.

He started making a few bucks in the game when he was quite young, but his career really took off when he married Helene, a perfect co-conspirator, in 1993.

Bob Simon: You were really the Bonnie and Clyde of the art world, weren’t you?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yes, Bonnie and Clyde, yeah. Without weapons. Only with pencils.

Bob Simon: But you were a pair, you did everything together.

Helene Beltracchi: Yeah.

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Everything together, yes, yes.

They invented a story that fooled them all. Helene said her grandfather hid his art collection at his country estate in Germany before the war to protect it from the Nazis.  When he died, she said, she inherited it.  But there was nothing to inherit, because there had never been a collection. Every one of the works had been painted by Wolfgang Beltracchi.

Helene Beltracchi: When I said it’s a collection of my grandfather it was OK.

Bob Simon: It was OK, but it wasn’t true

Helene Beltracchi: No, it wasn’t true.  But the others – never asked me more.

Bob Simon: ‘Cause it was a good story?

Helene Beltracchi: Yeah.

Bob Simon: And you were a good actress in telling the story?

Helene Beltracchi: Maybe.

She and Wolfgang even created fake labels from a real German dealer which they put on the backs of paintings, staining them with coffee and tea to make them look old.

They toured flea markets like this one to find canvases from the right periods.

Bob Simon: Tell me what we’re doing here. Tell me what we’re looking for.

Wolfgang Beltracchi: We’re looking for a painting like that because we need something that is 1919, 1910, see that’s a French one.

Bob Simon: You can get that completely clean?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah, yeah, completely clean, yeah.

They sent paint pigments to labs to make sure they had been available at the time the artist had painted.

Bob Simon: You were really perfectionists weren’t you?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah, yeah sure.

Bob Simon: And hearing you talk, you were really good criminals.

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah, yeah.

Helene Beltracchi: Yeah.

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah, it’s true.

To back up their story, they found an old box camera like this one, dressed Helene up to look like her grandmother, hung up some forgeries behind her and took some bogus photos on pre-war paper.

Jeff Taylor: To make it look like an old photograph which is, in the art world, in the documentation aspect, is golden.  Archival photographs are sort of the El Dorado.

Bob Simon: Now when you see something like that, do you say, “You gotta hand it to him”?

Jeff Taylor: Yes, yes you do.

Bob Simon: He was off and running.

Jeff Taylor: He was off and running.

Running to luxurious estates they bought in Germany and in France, vineyard included. They gave parties Gatsby would have loved and they traveled the world in style, by land or  by sea.  Bonnie and Clyde had taste.

Wolfgang Beltracchi: This is – was – my boat, yah.

Bob Simon: I don’t think you’re translating correctly. This isn’t a boat, it’s a yacht.

Beltracchi was riding high and thought he would stay up there forever.  He was turning out forgeries – like this Max Ernst which went for $7 million. But then in 2010, he got busted by this tube of white paint.

The Dutch manufacturer didn’t include on the tube that it contained traces of a pigment called titanium white. That form of titanium white wasn’t available when Ernst would have painted these works and Beltracchi’s high ride was over.

Jamie Martin, one of the world’s top forensic art analysts, uses science to help determine whether or not a painting is genuine. We asked him to examine this Beltracchi forgery for us.

Jamie Martin: His fakes are among the best fakes I’ve seen in my career. Very convincing.  Very well done.

Bob Simon: And what you’re saying is that basically he got away with it for 40 years because nobody was examining them properly?

Jamie Martin: Nobody was examining them closely enough.

He showed what he does, how he uses a stereomicroscope to study every millimeter of a painting’s surface, and to select and remove samples.

Bob Simon: You actually take little pieces off of the painting?

Jamie Martin: We take very little pieces. We take only the minimum amount that’s required. Smaller than the width of a human hair.

He uses what is called Raman spectroscopy, which can help detect historically inaccurate pigments. That’s what cut Beltracchi’s career short.  He was sentenced to six years in a German prison. His wife, Helene, to four. But the chaos they wrought has not been undone.  Now, galleries and auction houses who vouched for his forgeries have been sued by the collectors who bought them.

Bob Simon: You have, in fact, you’ve really upset the art world, haven’t you?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah sure, they all hate me, these experts now–

Bob Simon: Do you think the experts are just incompetent or that they are also frauds, that they pretend to know more than they know?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: No, no nearly all the experts we have met, we met, they were serious, really serious. Their only problem was that I was too good for them. Yes, that was their problem, that’s all.

And with all the legal problems they now have, many experts are very hesitant to use their expertise.

Jeff Taylor: I think they’re terrified. I think that Beltracchi particularly put them in a very nervous position.

Bob Simon: So being an art expert today is a risky business?

Jeff Taylor: It’s so risky that a lot of authentication boards have shut down. There’s just simply too much legal peril out there. It’s one of the reasons why a lot of experts will not give their opinions.

Many foundations representing major artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Willem de Kooning are refusing to authenticate works brought to them at all.  Francis O’Connor is the world’s top Jackson Pollock expert.  He says he can spot a fake Pollock in a second, but these days is keeping his opinions to himself.

Bob Simon: What if I were to come to you and say “this has been presented to me as a Pollock”

Francis O’Connor: Someone comes to me about once a week. I just let it go by

Bob Simon: Let it go by?

Francis O’Connor: In other words, ignore it.

Bob Simon: I’m not quite sure I understand.  If I come to you and I say, “Hey, this has been presented to me as a Pollock” and you can see right away that it isn’t, you’re not going to tell me “this is not a Pollock”?

Francis O’Connor: I would be very hesitant to give any opinion at that point, because of the legal situation.

Bob Simon: Where do I go to see whether my painting is a real Pollock or not?

Francis O’Connor: There is nowhere to go.

When collectors do have suspicions about their paintings, one of the few places they can go is Jamie Martin’s lab.

Bob Simon: Ballpark figure, if you’ve examined say a hundred paintings, how many of them are fakes?

Jamie Martin: I would say probably 98 percent are fake.

Bob Simon: No kidding.

Jamie Martin: That’s just the numbers.

At his trial in 2011, prosecutors said Beltracchi had created 36 fakes which were sold for $46 million.  But art historians believe, and Beltracchi told us, that there may be more than 300 of his fakes all over the world. German police have uncovered 60 so far and the numbers keep climbing.

Bob Simon: Do you think we’ll be uncovering fake Beltracchis for years to come?

Jeff Taylor: Absolutely. There’s gonna be many more out there. But one thing we know about fake art works is short of having them burned or destroyed, they have a strange way of finding their way back onto the market, generation after generation.

And no one disputes that they are awfully good.  Beautiful. This $7 million dollar fake Max Ernst is being shipped back to New York.  Its owner decided to keep it even after it had been exposed as a fake. He said it’s one of the best Max Ernsts he’s ever seen.

Beltracchi spent a year and a half in this grim penitentiary, but is now allowed to spend many days at home, where he is launching a new career. Beltracchi is painting again and is signing his works Beltracchi.  He needs to get his name out there, which is probably why he agreed to talk to us. He’s lost everything is now facing multiple lawsuits totaling $27 million.

Bob Simon: Did you ever think you would wind up in prison?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: No.

Bob Simon: At what point did you realize, uh-oh, I’m in trouble, this is over?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: When I was in prison.

Bob Simon: Not before then.

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Not really, no.

Bob Simon: Do you think you did anything wrong?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yes, I use the wrong titanium white, yeah.

Bob Simon: What do you think this Max Ernst would be worth?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: This one?

Bob Simon: Yeah.

Wolfgang Beltracchi: $5 million, I think.

Bob Simon: $5 million.  And you can do it in three days?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah, oh yes, yes, sure, or quicker.

Beltracchi estimates he has done 25 Max Ernsts. He is not copying an existing work. He’s painting something he thinks Ernst might have done if he’d had the time or felt like it.

Bob Simon: So you would be doing a Cezanne that Cezanne never painted but that you thought he might have wanted to paint?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yes, exactly.

So, in a sense, every Beltracchi painting is an original. He just lied about who painted it. He says forged a hundred artists and can do just about anyone.

Bob Simon: Could you do a Rembrandt?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah, sure.

Bob Simon: Could you do a Leonardo?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah, yeah, sure.

Bob Simon: Who couldn’t you do?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Maybe Bellini. Bellini’s really difficult.

He has sold his forgeries. Of course, but says he can still see some of them because they’re on public display.

Bob Simon: Have you seen your paintings, your forgeries hanging in museums?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah. Yeah, all the museums, you know. I think I am one of the most exhibited painters in museums of the world.

Bob Simon: You are one of the most exhibited painters in the world?

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah, yeah.

Bob Simon: That’s quite an accomplishment

Wolfgang Beltracchi: Yeah.

You might have seen his stuff in New York’s Metropolitan Museum or in the Hermitage in Lausanne…to name just a couple.  You can also see them in the homes of the one percent. Actor Steve Martin bought this one. Beltracchi’s forgeries have also made it into art books listing the best paintings of the 20th century and have been sold in many of the world’s top auction houses.

Y los ladrones se llevaron un Van Gogh falso…

A veces no siempre los ladrones de arte están bien informados… o al menos esa  podría ser la primera impresión al leer esta noticia. Pero es cierto que los caprichos de un fetichista pueden llegar a ser muy variopintos y no sé yo si es que a algún coleccionista privado se le antojó un Van Gogh falso…

La cosa es que a mediados de julio, diez pinturas y dos dibujos fueron robados en el Museo Van Buuren a las afueras de Bruselas. “Los ladrones fueron particularmente rápidos, todo lo hicieron en menos de dos minutos” dijo la curadora Isabelle Anspach. Muchos de los trabajos robados eran de gran valor, incluyendo ‘The Thinker’ del pintor holandés Kees van Dongen cuya suma asegurada asciende a 1.2 millones de Euros.

Lo que seguramente no sabían los ladrones al escoger el dibujo atribuído a Van Gogh, ‘Peasant Woman Pealing Potatoes’, era que se piensa que es una falsificación ya que “el lápiz común, utilizado en este dibujo, indica el trabajo propio de un copista. Además la mujer tiene los labios pintados de rojo, lo cual es muy inusual en un dibujo de Van Gogh. Por último, el papel marrón sobre el cual está el dibujo, no fue utilizado por Van Gogh en ningún otro dibujo que se le conozca.” Escribió el erudito holandés Liesbeth Heenk.

‘Peasant Woman Pealing Potatoes’ tiene una ‘falsa’ firma de Van Gogh. Foto: Museo van Buuren

Debido a la naturaleza de la colección del Museo Van Buren, las pérdidas son irremplazables.

Otros trabajos robados incluyen una pintura de Pieter Brueghel el Joven y ‘Shrimps and Shells’ una obra de James Ensor de 1894.


Gracias a Elena Vozmediano por el pase! Por cierto, mirad su nueva web…



Ten paintings and two drawings were nimbly stolen in the course of two minutes, according to representatives at the Van Buuren Museum, on the outskirts of Brussels.

“All alarms went off, but they [the thieves] were particularly fast, everything was done in two minutes,” said curator Isabelle Anspach.

Several of the works were said to have been of great value, including ‘The Thinker’ by Dutch painter Kees van Dongen, said to have a replacement value of 1.2 million Euros.

The thieves are unlikely to have known, however, when they chose the drawing near the stairs, Peasant Woman Pealing Potatoes, that although labelled Van Gogh it is believed to be a fake.

It was one of the Van Gogh drawings singled out by Dutch scholar Liesbeth Heenk, who wrote of it, “The regular pencil marks betray the typical care of a copyist… The lips of the woman have been coloured red, which would have been very unusual for Van Gogh. The brownish woven paper has not been used for other Van Gogh drawings and the signature seems spurious.”

Kees van Dongen’s The Thinker, 1907, valued at more than €1m, was one of the more expensive works stolen. Photo: Musée et Jardins van Buuren

Due to the personal nature of the collection the losses are irreplaceable to the Van Buuren Museum. An Art Deco-style villa, it was filled with art in the Twenties and Thirties by Dutch banker-patron David van Buuren and his wife, Alice.

Other works stolen include a painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, and James Ensor’s Shrimps and Shells, 1894.

F for Fake, de Orson Welles (1973)

Y para empezar el año, un tributo, al cumplirse los 40 años de su realización: “F for Fake”, de Orson Welles (1973). Toda una exploración del mundo de la falsificación artística.

Ver aquí la historia de Elmyr de Hory