Art and Entertainment


Chicago Art Institute 'Gauguin' a Forgery

December 17, 2007 06:22 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Art Institute of Chicago removes a counterfeit sculpture previously thought to be the work of famed post-impressionist Paul Gauguin; the fake was discovered thanks to an investigation into a multimillion-dollar forgery operation run out of a garden shed by a family in Britain.

30-Second Summary

The ceramic sculpture “The Faun” was traced back to the London branch of the respected auction house Sotheby’s. The piece appeared to match one of Gauguin’s 1887 sketches.

Even Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark, the world’s leading specialist in Gauguin ceramics, accepted the piece as a genuine, describing it as “among Gauguin’s most satirical” works.

However, its bogus nature was revealed in the course of Scotland Yard’s investigation into the Greenhalgh family, an elderly couple and son who forged art works by famous masters.

The Greenhalghs were being prosecuted for charges relating to the forgery of the Egyptian “Armana Princess” sculpture when investigators found evidence shedding doubt on “The Faun’s” origins.

Prosecutors claimed that Olive and George Greenhalgh and their son Shaun reproduced an estimated £10 million of artwork.

“They are possibly the most diverse forgery team in the world, ever,” Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley told the Times of London.

Because the family was independently wealthy, Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley, from the Metropolitan’s Art and Antiques unit, suspects that the Greenhalgh’s nefarious activities were motivated more by rancor than greed: "They had a resentment of the art market and wanted to prove they could deceive it."

If Rapley's theory is correct, the Greenhalghs are reminiscent of the infamous art forger Elmyr de Hory, subject of Orson Welles' 1975 documentary "F for Fake."

Headine Links: Faking ‘The Faun’

Background Link: The ersatz ‘Armana Princess’

Opinion & Analysis: The Greenhalghs' artistic grudge

Related Topics: Jackson Pollock forgeries and Elmyr de Hory

Elmyr de Hory (1906–1976)

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