Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ART BIZ | Some Forgers Are Good

"Portrait of a Man,"
misattributed to
Frans Hals. A fake.
Nov. 1, 2016–The NY Times yesterday has a story on a forgery, titled "Portrait of a Man" that originally fooled Sotheby's and other experts.

It was sold as a discovered portrait by Frans Hals. Sotheby's has now declared the painting to be a fake.

My mother, Hilda van Stockum, was impressed with successful forgers. She used to tell us with relish how some great forgeries were accepted for years as genuine by the art experts, the nomenklatura of the art world.

She asked out loud why their obvious talents weren't directed toward the traditional route of artists, which is to make their name by painting in their own style.

And then she answered her own question by noting that a good forgery can command immediate money in the art marketplace, whereas even one of the greatest painters who ever lived, Vincent van Gogh, took years to win consensus on his greatness, although as I have noted before, his younger brother Theo clearly knew all along that Vincent's work was valuable.

Hitler and Göring
I think that her concern about imperfectness of the art marketplace is what inspired HvS to include her story about the theft of a Rembrandt from the van Arkels' home in The Borrowed House (pp. 170-185).

She based it on news stories about the competition between Hitler and Göring over acquisition of art treasures.

When Janna "realized that you could like and dislike someone at the same time," referring to Erich Stolz getting rich stealing art from Hitler and selling it to Göring, that was my mother's voice I heard.

It's good to hear her voice today, All Saints' Day, on the tenth anniversary of her death.

Related Posts: Vincent van Gogh P&L . The Borrowed House