Art forgery is the best crime tbh. It requires absolutely incredible artistic talent, technical skill, and attention to detail to make convincing fakes. Does anyone get hurt from it? No! The only people who suffer for it are the extremely wealthy who want the prestige of having original paintings in their own homes. It’s full of international intrigue and mystery. Perfect.
Also… art forgers like van Meegeren sometimes become a kind of folk hero. A swindler, sure, but a gentleman’s swindler.
I liked this guy’s story, Mark Landis, who conned several dozen museums into displaying his forgeries, but when the FBI came after him they couldn’t do anything because he had always given them away as donations. They said if they could have found that he’d ever taken anything in exchange they would have prosecuted him, but all he wanted was get to out of the house and meet people.
“The first painting Landis “donated” was a copy of a work by Maynard Dixon, an artist well-known for his paintings of cowboys and Indians. It started as impulse, Landis says, but then “everybody was just so nice and treated me with respect and deference and friendship, things I was very unused to — I mean, actually not used to at all. And I got addicted to it.””
And it looks like all his forgeries are done with cheap materials, like markers and Hobby Lobby frames.
Ok, but Wolfgang Beltracchi is probably one of the best Fraud Artists in the world.
His career brought him millions upon millions of dollars and lasted almost 40 years. He finally admitted to painting fraudulent art after the white paint he used came under scrutiny.
“ Bob Simon: What do you think this Max Ernst would be worth?Wolfgang Beltracchi: This one?Simon: Yeah.Beltracchi: $5 million, I think.Simon: $5 million. And you can do it in three days?Beltracchi: Yeah, oh yes, yes, sure, or quicker” -From a 60 minutes interview with Bob Simon
In The interview with Beltracchi, he said that none of his forgeries are copies, they’re all original works that the famous artists could have painted.
“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.” -
The Con Artist: A multi-million dollar art scam
His wife was also in on the scam, she would dress up in old clothing and take pictures holding the paintings with old cameras to fake proof of the paintings’ ages.
At the end of the interview with Wolfgang Beltracchi he was asked if he felt he had done anything wrong, his answer was “ Yeah, I used the wrong kind of paint”
Just … the levels of con there, the fake photos and … wow. That’s incredible.
Also fun fact we learned in class today: Michelangelo carved a sculpture of a Roman god, broke off the arm, and then buried it. The sculpture was dug up and was considered to be an authentic Roman artefact, until Michelangelo came along with the missing arm and called shenanigans on himself, just to prove he was as skilled a sculptor as the ancient Romans.
honestly mike? chill.
Art Forgery is non-genre fanart of the highest caliber.