London Museum Makes Room For The New Masters Of Forgery

Pseudo Picassos, counterfeit Chagalls and other fakes are on display in London this week — part of an effort by Scotland Yard to warn dealers about forged art that it says fuels crime gangs around the world.

While the exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum looks like any other art gallery, the chatter among dealers centered on crime rather than composition, and the program was not open to the public.

“It made you fascinated by the terrifying skills of some of these people,” said Fiona Ford of LAPADA, The Association of Arts & Antiques Dealers. “If every dealer saw this exhibition, it would further impress on them how careful they have to be.”

For the art world, the danger is that forgeries can devalue the real thing. Documentation — allegedly authenticating a piece of art — can also be forged, according to Detective Sgt. Vernon Rapley, so even art accompanied by a detailed provenance can be suspect.

Art historian Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, has estimated that up to 40 percent of the market is comprised of some type of forgery.

Courtesy: Maria Hegstad, AP