June 4, 2014

@artrecovery highlights FBI's Bonnie Magness-Gardiner's talk & the mention Fake Matisse in Venezuela that hid a theft for ten years

NYTimes: Matisse's Odalisque
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Here's one of the Tweets sent by @artrecovery (the work of Jerome Hasler) from the Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Symposium (June 4-6) at New York University today in regards to speaker Bonnie Magness-Gardiner of the FBI's Art Theft Program:
BMG - discussing faking of Matisse's 'Odalisque in Red Pants', all manner of issues with authentication once fake discovered #artcrime
A search on the Internet found a July 19, 2012 article in The New York Times by William Neuman, "Stolen Matisse, 'Odalisque in Red Pants Surfaces' (or "Topless Woman Found. Details Sketchy") about the recovery of a painting by Henri Matisse -- apparently the canvas hanging on the wall of the Contemporary Art Museum of Caracas in Venezuela, had obscured the theft of the original:
The theft of the painting was first discovered in late 2002, when the Contemporary Art Museum of Caracas was contacted by a Miami gallery owner saying that someone had offered to sell it to him. Experts at the museum inspected the likeness and were shocked to find that it was a fake, and not a very good one, at that. Someone had removed the original painting from its frame and put the fake in its place, leaving it to be exhibited as if it were the real thing. And no one noticed. The fake painting appears to have been hanging in the museum for at least two years and perhaps longer. Marianela Balbi, a journalist who wrote a book about the theft, said that a photograph taken in September 2000 shows President Hugo Chávez standing in the museum in front of the fake Matisse. That is the earliest indication of the switch, she said. The next month the museum heard from a Matisse expert that someone was shopping the painting around, Ms. Balbi said. But it appears no one followed up, and the theft went undiscovered for an additional two years.
The original painting by Matisse was recovered in Florida in Miami in a FBI undercover operation.

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