As long as there’s been artwork, there’s been forged artwork. The Romans copied from the Greeks, and Renaissance artists copied from them both. It has been happening for centuries. A very shockingly and lucrative black market exists to create and sell these fake artworks, and in the last few decades has technology appeared that might someday put an end to it.
Some forgers are very extraordinarily talented artists in their own right, while other are just scoundrels. Some switch from forgery to the real thing, while some just get tossed in jail. If there’s one constant, however, in the world of art forgery, it’s that it always makes an entertaining story.
A Johannes Vermeer like painting called “Jesus Among the Doctors” by Henricus Antonius “Han” van Meegeren. Van Meegeren painted this in front of reporters and court-appointed witnesses at a trial in 1945 in order to prove that he was a forger. Why? Because he was being accused of being a Nazi collaborator and “plunderer of Dutch cultural property” for being associated with a previously-unknown “Vermeer painting” that was sold to Nazi mastermind Hermann Göring for the equivalent of $7 million.
He was fake-painting for his life, basically. After the trial painting was finished, he was transferred to the fortress prison Blauwkapel. Van Meegeren was released from prison in January or February 1946. Jesus among the Doctors (which van Meegeren had painted while in detention) sold for 3,000 guilders (about $800 or about $7,000 today.) Today the painting hangs in a Johannesburg church. Source [WikiPedia]
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