During lean times, the great Michelangelo is believed to have manipulated one of his sculpted figures to appear ancient in order to sell it to a local Cardinal. The practice of misrepresenting the authenticity of a work of art is a centuries-old practice. A former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is quoted as declaring that about “40 percent of all art in museums is either fake or forgery.” Con artists and forgers pass off millions of dollars every year in fake Basquiat’s, Dali’s, Rothko’s, and ‘newly discovered’ works by a myriad of Old Masters to museums and individuals.
Provenance is all in the art world and faking it is lifetime employment for some cons. Con artists in the world of art are a varied and sometimes a very talented group composed, in part, of gallery owners passing fake paintings, forgers reproducing masterpieces in their studios, and even drug lords happily laundering money. Their marks (victims) also are varied and often as crooked as the con artist they are courting. From infatuated millionaires hungry for an original piece to hang in the mansion library to a museum director eager for that last item critical to a collection, they all play a role in the world of the art con.
Join us as we explore the fascinating world of these crooks: their schemes, their methods, and their marks.