It's a Fake! ; Exactly How Many Originals of One Masterpiece Can There Be? Art Collectors Are Fooled More Than You May Think

By Grant, Daniel | The Christian Science Monitor, March 9, 2001 | Go to article overview

It's a Fake! ; Exactly How Many Originals of One Masterpiece Can There Be? Art Collectors Are Fooled More Than You May Think


Grant, Daniel, The Christian Science Monitor


After almost four years, the case is closed (sort of).

Dewey Lane Moore pleaded guilty in early February to mail fraud in his attempt to sell, through a Florida auction house, almost 300 flea-market pictures that he had attributed to Degas, Frankenthaler, Johns, Manet, Matisse, Picasso, and other renowned artists.

The problem was that they were all fakes.

Now comes the hard part: What should the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which confiscated the counterfeit works, do with all those pictures?

The FBI would like to see them destroyed. It has seen too many instances where counterfeit art eventually gets back into circulation if it isn't eliminated.

But that doesn't always happen. Some of Mr. Moore's works could wind up at schools like Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum, where they are used in the classroom. A few become "famous fakes": Museums sometimes organize shows displaying them. And some deceived collectors even decide to keep their fakes - for sentimental reasons or because the works have become valuable in their own right as clever copies.

While Yale University didn't express interest in Moore's fakes, the school does use counterfeits to teach about authenticity.

"We use these paintings to help students develop connoisseurship, to build their skills in identifying what is authentic and what is not," says Helen Cooper, curator of American painting at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Conn.

Margaret Holben Ellis, chair of the conservation center at New York University's graduate-level Institute of Fine Arts in Manhattan, says that "fakes and reproductions are very educational. Students can examine something up close to see why a work is or isn't what it purports to be, based on its physical characteristics."

Unfortunately, while the cache of fakes is often large, the interest from schools is not. They rarely accept more than a handful every few years or so.

"We receive maybe one or two per year," Ms. Ellis says. "We're located in a very small townhouse, and there's not a lot of room for storage."

Christopher Tahk, director of the art conservation department at Buffalo State College in New York, says that "we regularly get offered things, but our students can use the same pieces again and again, so we don't always need more."

Finding that a work is an intentional counterfeit is only one way it can lose its status as authentic.

New techniques in determining authenticity have led many museums to reevaluate works in their own collections, sometimes leading to new (often downgraded) attributions for once prestigious pieces: For example, at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Conn., a painting "By Rembrandt" was retitled simply a "Baroque Portrait" after close scrutiny.

Increasingly, museums are raising the issue of authenticity themselves in the form of exhibitions that show how physical analysis (X-rays, ultraviolet light, chemical tests, etc.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

It's a Fake! ; Exactly How Many Originals of One Masterpiece Can There Be? Art Collectors Are Fooled More Than You May Think
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.