Skip to Main Content

Art Forgery: About

Art Forgery

Link to Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World's Greatest Art Forger by Tony Tetro in the catalog
Link to The Art of the Con : the most notorious fakes, frauds, and forgeries in the art world by Anthony M Amore in the catalog
Link to The Many Faces of Art Forgery by William Casement in the catalog
Link to Provenance:  how a con man and a forger rewrote the history of modern art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo in the catalog
Link to Caveat Emptor: the secret life of an American art forger by Ken Perenyi in the catalog
Link to Real Fake: The Art, Life and Crimes of Elmyr de Hory documentary by Gravitas Ventures in Hoopla
Link to Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery documentary by KimStim Germany in Hoopla
Link to The Forger's Spell: a true story of Vermeer, nazis, and the greatest art hoax of the twentieth century by Edward Dolnick in the catalog
Link to The Art Forger: A Novel by BA Shapiro in the catalog
Link to Possession : the curious history of private collectors from antiquity to the present by Erin L Thompson in the catalog
Link to Genuine Fakes: How Phony Things Teach Us About Real Stuff by Lydia Pyne in the catalog
Link to The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith in the catalog

Watch Videos

What is Art Forgery?

 For the most part art forgery is the creating and or selling of works of art that are falsely attributed to an artist that did not create the piece of art.  This can involve replicating an existing or know piece of art and passing it off as the original or creating a new work of art in the style of another artist and claiming it as a new  discovery of a piece discovered from that artist.  Art forgery dates back thousands of years,  in fact the Romans were know to copy Greek sculptures and sell them as authentic Greek art work over 2,000 years ago.

The driving force of art forgery is the fact that art work created by certain artists is worth more than art work created by others.  If a work of art can be replicated perfectly by an art forger it is only worth less monetarily than the original because of who painted it not because the painting looks any differently than the original.  The same theory applies to forgers who create new art pieces in the style of a master, if the forgery is believed to be genuine it will be deemed priceless but if it is found to be a fake it is deemed worthless, regardless of what the piece of art looks like.

Forensic investigators, along with art historians and appraisers, are often responsible for determining if a piece of art is a forgery or not. Historians often use stylistic analysis to determine if a work of art is genuine or not, possessing large amount of knowledge about the styles, tool, brushstrokes,  techniques used by certain artists. There are a variety of methods used for forensic authentication of art work.   Some of the technical methods for revealing fakes include X-rays, UV lights, and IR light, which can be used to see under layers of paint to see covered up works, determine time period or the actual artist of the painting if an original signature has been covered up. Continue reading from The Crime Museum

Link to Art Heists that Made History resource guide series