Forgery

Art Forgery Trial Asks: Were Dealers Duped, Or Did They Turn A Blind Eye?

“Art Forgery Trial Asks: Were Dealers Duped, Or Did They Turn A Blind Eye?”

by Joel Rose via “NPR

The Knoedler & Company art gallery, shown here in 2010, had been in business  since before the Civil War. The gallery permanently closed its doors in 2011.

The New York art world was shocked when the city’s oldest gallery abruptly closed its doors more than four years ago. A few days later, news broke that Knoedler & Company was accused of selling paintings it now admits were forgeries for millions of dollars each. The gallery and its former president face several lawsuits by angry collectors and the first trial began this week.

The forgeries at the center of the scandal look like masterpieces by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and other prominent abstract expressionists. They were good enough to fool experts, and even Ann Freedman, then-president of Knoedler & Company, says she was duped.

Her lawyer, Luke Nikas, says, “Ann Freedman believed in these paintings. She showed them to the whole art world. She showed them to experts. And she has piles and piles of letters from all of these experts informing her that the works are real.”

Nikas says Freedman even bought some of the paintings for her own personal collection. But the plaintiffs in this case and other pending lawsuits say Freedman overlooked glaring problems with the paintings’ backstories. The art dealer who sold the paintings to the gallery, a woman named Glafira Rosales, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges in 2013. According to Freedman, Rosales told an elaborate story involving a European collector (known only as “Mr. X”) who bought the paintings with cash in the 1950s, when he was having an affair with an assistant at two top New York galleries.

“It’s quite a tale, and people bought it,” says Amy Adler, who teaches art law at New York University. “I suppose the temptation would be there — not just for buyers, but, yes, even for sellers — to think they’d happened upon these magnificent, undisclosed masterpieces.”

In the end, Rosales admitted to selling Knoedler 40 counterfeit paintings over more than a decade. The plaintiffs argue that Freedman knew — or at least should have known — that something was amiss. It’s hardly the first time an art dealer has been accused of deliberately looking the other way.

Ken Perenyi is a professional art forger who wrote about his career in the book Caveat Emptor. “From over 30 years’ experience with art dealers,” he says, “I would say there most certainly are individuals out there in the trade that will turn a blind eye.” . . .

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Chinese Artist: Chang Dai-Chien

“Splashed Color Landscape” by Daiqien (1965)

Artists

Chang Dai-Chien (Zhang Daqian) was an outrageously popular and eclectic 20th Century Chinese artist and forger.  Born in the Sichuan province, he initially studied art under his mother.  In those early days, he began with outline drawings of animals and flowers ~ subjects he would perfect through the years.  As a young man, he studied painting, weaving, and textile dying and design in Japan.  Upon returning to China, he began studying and replication several 17th century Chinese calligraphers and painters.  He earned his money selling these and his own works for some time.  Although he would eventually travel around quite a bit, watching and learning from artists around the world, his style was eminently Chinese.   That said, he earned a reputation for incorporating Brazilian and American techniques into his work, thus introducing new concepts of “Chinese” art. (more…)

“The Confidence, and the Art, Looked Real”

“The Confidence, and the Art, Looked Real”

by Patricia Cohen via “New York Times”

“To many people, the art dealer Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz seemed like an enviable man.  He came to the United States from Spain with his Mexican inamorata, Glafira Rosales, some 30 years ago, barely a dollar in his pocket, and only a few words of English at his command. Soon, he was living life on a grand stage. He bought a fine house in a wealthy New York suburb, opened an art gallery with Ms. Rosales and maintained auction accounts at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.He boasted of a friendship with Andy Warhol, an audience with the pope and his daughter’s violin performance at the Clinton White House. He created a charity that helped the poor and the sick in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and won awards for his humanitarianism.

Behind the curtain, though, federal prosecutors say, Mr. Bergantiños was engaged in a very different sort of enterprise, a daring forgery swindle that fooled the art world and led collectors to spend more than $80 million on dozens of phony masterworks. The marketing of these forgeries, many of them sold through the offices of what was once New York’s oldest gallery, Knoedler & Company, has been among the most stunning art market scandals of the last decade. . . .”

I’ll just bet he’s out of the country; I can’t imagine having the cahoney’s to pull something like this off. And it begs the question of how well Knoedler & Co. were investigating the works they processed. Where are the provenance records, the testing process results, etc.? Were those forged as well, or were they not included in the sale? In this day and age, how were so many forged items passed of?