I know what you are thinking. I know! You are thinking, “It can’t be true. It’s simply impossible.” But, oh, it doesn’t look good.
There may, in fact, be evidence of shady dealings in the art world. There may be a fake Motherwell,a fake Rothko, a fake Diebenkorn. And, are you ready for this, there may be a fake painting or two by Jackson Pollock.
The New York Times has the story.
Stunning news, I’m sure, about an art market that we all thought was the very epitome of free market dealings, open flow of information, and honest brokers, the very model of capitalism.
Now, to be clear, when I say “fake paintings” I’m not making any sort of critical judgement on the work of Motherwell or Pollock or any of the others. That’s a post for another day. When I say “fake paintings” I’m talking about real fake paintings. Or fake real paintings. That is to say, they are actually paintings but not painted by Pollock or Motherwell. Nor are they paintings not painted by Pollock or Motherwell but which were claimed by the artists themselves to be made by them, if you see what I mean. I’m talking about real forgeries. Real fakes.
It must be tempting. Dribble a little house paint on a large canvas and, bingo, the big money rolls in. The big party invitations roll in. Your name is on the lips of the Who’s Who of the art world. At first you may feel that it is all just a game, that people are so easily fooled. But after a while maybe you start to see things a little differently. Maybe the work really is special, no matter the true facts of its creation. The magic is in the result, not the method. And maybe, if you really think about it, you are an artist, a real artist, even a great artist, though not everyone would agree. If the experts say it is great art then isn’t it?
Do all those doubts and details really matter when the work is selling for millions?