Christie's caught up as £30m forgeries send shock waves through the art world
German police hold three suspects after works sold through leading auction houses are exposed as fakes.
Panic is spreading through the art world following the discovery of forgeries among major 20th-century paintings sold in recent years by leading auctioneers and dealers worldwide, including Christie's in London.
More than 30 paintings, thought to be by artists including Max Ernst, Raoul Dufy and Fernand Léger, have been unmasked as forgeries, the Observer has learned. The fakes have duped leading figures in the art world into parting with at least £30m.
Four of the paintings have gone through Christie's, including forgeries of Ernst's La Horde, estimated at £3.5m and eventually sold to the Würth Collection, and André Derain's Bateaux à Collioure, sold for £2m. Six paintings were sold by the leading German auctioneer, Lempertz, one for £2.8m. The forger's strategy appears to have been to create compositions that would relate to the titles of documented works whose whereabouts are not currently known.
Dealers and collectors who have recently acquired works by the artists involved "are shaking over this scandal", one insider said. "They are in a panic over whether their paintings are also forgeries. Everyone's taking a second look." The panic is so acute that collectors are even seeking refunds on unquestionably genuine works.
I'm going to hell for this but... I can not resist copious amounts of schadenfreude on this one. So some really rich people got taken by a very clever huckster. What a tragedy. How's that "investment' in high class art working for you now Mr./Ms. Moneybags? I really love it when karma kicks into overdrive.