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File Sharing 2: The Return of the Forger

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posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 12:50 AM
So we've been hearing a big debate about the filesharing going on. Lot's of times people will use the gem "Art should be free!". Well let's just take a closer look at that and enter the fascinating world of art forgery. Maybe once you get a bigger scope of things you'll think twice the next time you download music, movies, or software.

You will never know how deep the art forgers have gone, you will never know!

Let's start with Tony Tetro - Link to Homepage

What seriously? He faked a what? A two million dollar Ferrari? And sold it? The answer to all of these questions is, yes.

Here are a few quotes from his website - Link 1 Link 2

While I was working on the entire project I would smoke [Lucky Strikes] and put the butts in a 8 ounce glass of water less than half full and put the ashes in another empty 8 ounce glass. I would then cover the entire front of the painting with a less diluted mixer of raw umber to give a slight "patina" depending on what era the painting was completed.

An art dealer in Beverly Hills asked me to do them and had a client that had more money than god and loved Chagall. This art dealer had enough clout were he could guarantee their authenticity. His client only asked for one but he was sure he could sell two. So I did two paintings on old canvas and striped off the old paint

Tony was eventually caught and did a little time in jail. He's still an artist and still doing fine. You can even commission a painting from him directly from his website.

Now let's move on to a man named John Drewe. - Wiki Page

Mr. Drewe was a con man from an early age from what I can gather. He was always interested in tall stories and getting away with as much as possible by being as bold as possible. He got a degree in Physics but actually got a job that required a Phd in Physics even though he never got a Phd in anything. This give you a good idea of who we're talking about.

After some time, Drewe got involved in art forgery and this is where it gets really interesting. He teamed up with artist John Myatt and together they made some serious cash and broke a lot of hearts. John would forge a painting that Drewe was sure he could sell. Once the forge was complete Drewe would put any authenticating paperwork with the forge and sell it in the west. Usually either Sotheby's or Christie's. The original, which they knew would pass any inspection, was sold without any authentication in the Far East. For the longest time they never got caught because the clients in the Far East either never found out or were too embarrassed to say anything.

Pay close attention to this next part. I'll quote from Wiki here -

Drewe used the opportunity to introduce false records to the archives. He replaced old pages and inserted numerous new ones into old art catalogues to include Myatt's forgeries. The institutions have said that it will take years to purge the archives of all the false information. Through a middleman, Drewe also created a company called Art Research Associates and again used himself as a reference.

The archives mentioned are held in strict confidence by the art galleries as a means to gather and maintain a record of authenticating information for paintings. Entries could be anything from a historical record of ownership, the artist's personal written gaurantee, or a surviving relative that can attest first hand knowledge. Drewe worked his way to get access to this book and FAKED THE BOOK!

*continuing in the next post*

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 12:50 AM
The book that he faked is pretty much the Holy Grail for art authentication. We'll likely never know all that he changed. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison, served approximately 2. He made a fortune along the way.

Han Van Meegeren - Link

This man is probably famous enough to not need to be included here but I want to emphasize the scale of the subject.

The most famous art forgery, Han van Meegeren’s The Supper at Emmaus, 1937,
117 by 129 cm. Sold for 520.000 guilders as a genuine painting from the great Dutch
painter Vermeer, an incredible amount by 1937 standard and the 2005 equivalent
of 2,5 million dollars. When van Meegeren confessed, no one believed him, and he had to
prove his guilt by painting in prison. Look further down!

There's more story to this man than I could post about here. You'll need to read up on him to get the full picture. Suffice it to say that he turned himself in, he was never caught. He fooled everyone. Even today it's a well accepted fact that 10% of "verified" Vermeers are fakes, thanks to Meegeren. Of course if you ask the forgers they estimate it at closer to 30%! Depends on who you ask I suppose.

I'm going to show one last example, straight from the smithsonian - Link

This is a warehouse in Italy that was raided. Just one warehouse provided dozens of fakes that sell upwards of $500,000. This warehouse represents only a FRACTION of what was found in the past. This is big business. And in lots of countries art forgery isn't even a major crime. Hell, even in American and England you only get a few years in prison.

Aside from the fascinating stories there are several points I want to make. First, I believe the art forgers are making a point. They're saying, "look we're every bit as good as the classical masters and we want money for our talent". Who can disagree? I support them wholeheartedly.

Also I want people to realize just what the hell they're really saying when they say ridiculous things like "Art and music should be free!" and "I don't care if artists don't get paid!". Well I'm not going to pretend that this thread will change your mind. But I hope that the next time you spend money on a new car, or buy a new home, or buy a piece of artwork that somewhere in the back of your mind you remember the Tony Tetros of the world.

And remember that they're looking right back at you!

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 01:08 AM
Nice thread.

It is kind of surprising to find out just how well done some of these forgeries are.

That Ferrari looks very nice.

But it does have a real "kit car" feel to it. If that makes any sense.

The way he used cig ashes to add age to a painting sounded very sophisticated because obviously people fell for it.

I guess it is hard to know if anything is original these days.

Looks like a awesome way to make big $$$ though.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 01:15 AM
reply to post by muzzleflash

yeah i think people would be shocked if they found out how many extremely talented artists the world has that don't get anywhere near the money or credit they deserve.

oh i just remembered, there was a story about sothebys actually posting two of the same unique painting in one auction. i wish i could find a link for that. apparently they caught it before the magazine was issued for potential buyers to see but still. the art world is just permeated with forgery.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 03:33 PM
dude nice ferrari, ima see if i can make me one just the same.

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