Art fraud

By | February 2, 2014
Art fraud, carbon dating, forgery, forge, forgeries, copy, replica, fakes and copies.

Art fraud, carbon dating, forgery, forge, forgeries, copy, replica, fakes and copies.

Art forgery refers to creating and selling works of art that are falsely attributed to be work of another, usually more famous, artist. With modern analysis techniques the identification of forged artwork is much simpler.

When art become a commercial articles the value of the artwork came to depend on the identity of the artist. As the demand for certain artwork began to exceed the access of artworks fraudulent manufactured artworks began to appear on the open market.

The 20th century art market has favored artists such as Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Klee and Matisse. These forgeries are typically sold to art galleries and auction houses who cater to the tastes of art and antiquities collectors.

Copies, replicas, reproductions and pastiches are often legitimate works and the distinction between a legitimate reproduction and deliberate forgery is not always clear.

Forensic authentication

Investigators may attempt to authenticate the object using some of the forensic methods below:

Carbon dating is used to measure the age of an object up to 10,000 years old.

X-ray can be used to detect earlier work present under the surface of a painting. X-rays can also be used to view inside an object to determine if it is altered or repaired.

Ultraviolet fluorescence and infrared analysis are used to detect repairs or earlier painting present on canvasses.

Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry are used to detect anomalies in paintings and materials.

Dendrochronology can be used to date a wooden object by counting the number of tree rings present in the object.

Stable isotope analysis can be used to determine where the stone or marble used in a sculpture was quarried.

The Craquelure in a paintings surface is analyzed to detect forgery.


Action Fraud

Action Fraud is the place for you to find out about fraud. UK’s national fraud reporting centre.

The National Fraud Authority (NFA)

The National Fraud Authority (NFA) works with the counter-fraud community to make fraud more difficult to commit in and against the UK. is a resource created to help artists avoid falling victim to the many scams that proliferate the art market and the Internet.

OnGuardOnline provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.

Other Links:

Han van Meegeren

Han van Meegeren, 1889-1947, a Dutch painter considered to be one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century. He decided to prove his talent to the critics by forging paintings of some of the world’s most famous artists, Frans Hals and Vermeer. He replicated the styles and colours of the artists he copied so well, that the best art critics and experts of the time regarded his paintings as genuine and exquisite. His most successful forgery was The Disciples at Emmaus. This painting was considered by some of world’s foremost art experts as the finest Vermeer they had ever seen.

The Getty Kouros

Neither art historians nor scientists have been able to completely resolve the issue of the Getty Museum kouros’s authenticity. When several of the other pieces offered with the Kouros was proved to be forgeries, The Getty Kouros authenticity was questioned.

The Brillo-Box Scandal

The Swedish tabloid Expressen (Mikael Ölander, Leo Lagercrantz, Christian Holmén) reported that Hulten, the head of the Modern Museum in Stockholm in the 1960s and of the Centre Pompidou in Paris in the 1970s and 1980s, had Swedish carpenters build 105 copies of the Warhol Brillo box for an exhibition in Russia in 1990. Expressen claimed that Hulten, who died 2006, then sold a number of the copies with certificates falsely stating they were made for a Warhol exhibition in Stockholm in 1968.