If you're unsure of the legitimacy of a work of art, the first thing you should look at is the signature. A slight deviation in handwriting, like an unusual curve of a letter, is enough to throw the authenticity of a piece into question. But if an artist's name is spelled wrong, that should be your flashing, screaming sign: THIS IS A FAKE.
Knoedler & Company, a former gallery that is currently being sued for selling numerous multi-million dollar forgeries over the last 15 years, didn't notice that one of their supposed Jackson Pollock paintings had the action painter's last name spelled "Jackson Pollok."
The alleged drip painting was dated 1949, and somehow convinced Anne Freedman, Knoedler & Company's former president, that it was legit. She bought the "Pollok" in 2010 and sold it to a collector for $2 million in 2001, who returned it after it could not be authenticated.
Freeman's lawyer has argued that she had no knowledge that the paintings she was selling—for a total of $63 million!—were fakes.
“Freedman, Knoedler and their so-called ‘experts’ claim not to have seen forgeries even when it was literally (mis)spelled out for them,” countered one of the collectors' layers. He makes a good point.
All of the fakes were being sold by Glafira Rosales, a dealer who pleaded guilty last fall and used the same painter for all his fakes. We can't decide if the painter, who has since fled to China, is the best or the worst forger in the world.
[via New York Times]