More Fakes

I have posted several times over the past few weeks about the modern forgery of Old Master Frans Hals, now the NY Times published an article on a group recently arrested in Austria for attempting to sell Picasso and Chagall forgeries.  There were 5 works offered for about $11 million each.

The police organized the operations after a tip that fake art was going to be sold. It is beleived the group had over 60 fake works in total.

The NY Times reports
LONDON — Austria’s criminal intelligence service announced this week that it had uncovered a group selling forgeries of high-profile art, including fakes that had been attributed to Chagall and Picasso.

The service said in a statement on Monday that intelligence officers had posed as art buyers and arrested six suspects at a Vienna airport hotel in an undercover operation in July. Details on the operation were kept private until this week.

The suspects were said to have been attempting to sell the undercover authorities five artworks that they said were Picasso originals for about 10 million euros (about $11 million) each.

The authorities in the Vienna suburb of Schwechat, site of the city’s international airport, received a tip in the middle of the year that a small criminal group was planning to sell fake artworks there and alerted the intelligence service, which then organized the undercover purchase.

Further investigations into the suspects, who include five Austrians and one Slovenian citizen, revealed that its members had over a dozen apparent forgeries by artists including Picasso and Emil Nolde in their possession in Austria, and that there was a trove of more than 60 apparently forged artworks purported to be by artists like Klimt, Monet and Picasso, at one of the suspects’ properties in Slovenia. It is unclear who created the artworks and whether the suspects had previously sold any pieces.

All of the suspects, whose names have not been released, claimed that they believed the works were real. The suspects have been released ahead of a trial, and will remain free unless convicted, said Vincenz Kriegs-Au, a spokesman for the criminal intelligence service. All of the works are in police possession, and representatives for the artists’ estates are in the process of evaluating some of them over questions about their authenticity.
Source: The NY Times 

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