Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
A 20th-Century Master Scam (1999) (nytimes.com)
22 points by cubecul 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 3 comments

My dad served time for painting and selling forgeries, FBI claims he was passing works off for over 30 years and he ended up getting popped for wire fraud (soliciting buyers via email). All his works had provenance, turns out the dealer who was certifying his work was in a bad spot and was willing to vouch for what was obviously not authentic stuff.

The problem with art is that people have been forging works forever. It's impossible to get a feel for how many fakes are out there because so much art is passed down within families and never makes it onto the market and therefore never seen by experts who can spot a forgery.

My old man claims the whole art world is in on the take. Picasso claimed he painted fakes all the time and Matisse famously said "I have painted 2000 pictures. 5000 of them are in the USA."

The predatory nature of the art world allows for fakes to more easily enter the market. For instance, my dad was selling his pieces for a couple grand each and the dealer he sold to was reselling them for upwards of 20x what was paid (per court documents). If it seems too good to be true, it didn't seem to matter. The dealer wasn't charged and is probably still quite happy to sell fakes for a huge profit, caveat emptor and all that.

Anyways, that's my observation from the sidelines of the art world. I prefer stable investments like Beanie Babies and Nascar collectable plates, not paintings.

He is now in jail again for defrauding a 71 year old woman out of £700,000.


Important to note that this is the guy who was actually running the fraud - the artist creating the forgeries served 4 months in prison and now makes an apparently successful living painting reproductions and original works.


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact