There has been a real issue of fakes in the art world lately. Two major cases have brought attention to the problem of forgery. A New York dealer is facing charges over fake pieces while a museum in China had to close its doors after some discrepancies in its collection were revealed.
Yesterday, a New York art dealer was indicted over an alleged plot to screw two Manhattan galleries out of more than $30 million with fake works. Glafira Rosales, 56, faces charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and false tax returns. If she is convicted, her maximum prison sentence is 59 years.
Prosecutors claim in court filings that galleries bought more than 60 works that Roseles claimed were never-before-seen. She claimed the pieces were works by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. However the paintings were as real as Monopoly money and Rosales knew it, according to prosecutors. They also claim that Rosales said she was a representative of a Swiss client or a Spanish collector, both of which are not real.
In a separate case, the Jibaozhai Museum in China had to shut down due to accusations that its artifacts were fakes. The institution opened in 2010 and has been showcasing 12 exhibition halls filled with supposedly unique cultural gems. However there are now claims that the gems are just knock-offs bought for less than $20.
Earlier this month, Ma Boyong, a Chinese writer, realized a key flaw in the artifacts: they were engraved with writing that was said to date back more than 4,000 years. But Boyong discovered the writing had simplified Chinese characters, which came into use in the 20th century. Oh, snap!
As you can imagine, closing the doors to a major art institution for a period of time can have financial ramifications. Also, insitutions lose lots of money to fake art. For instance, the Bolton museum in the U.K. lost almost $700,000 over the acquisition of a phoney Egyptian statue. If you are a curator who discovers a work is a forgery, it can also be embarrassing. "You think this work is a masterpiece, you use technology, you write about it and then you discover that it is a fake, so everything you have written is exposed and you seem like a fool, basically," Salvador Salort-Pons of the DIA museum said to CNN.