Showing posts with label Elmyr de Hory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elmyr de Hory. Show all posts

October 7, 2014

ARCA’s network assists in getting two fake de Hory forgeries withdrawn from sale

By Arthur Tompkins, ARCA Trustee and Lecturer

On Saturday 4 October 2015 an article appeared in the online edition of The New Zealand Herald, a national newspaper in New Zealand, about two forgeries by the well-known forger Elmyr de Hory, coming up for public auction. 

The article ran under images of one of the forgeries alongside a genuine Monet:


The article said:

Two "Monet" paintings by a legendary art forger have surfaced at an Auckland auction. ... While Monet originals fetch millions, the two fakes will have reserves of only $1000 each when they go under the hammer at Cordy's auction house on Tuesday.
"They are colourful and nice paintings, but you don't look at them and think, 'Boy, that's an amazing masterpiece'," said auctioneer Andrew Grigg.
"They don't look like a real Monet - the detail, the quality of the originals would be just absolutely amazing."

The article described how the two paintings were said to have been purchased from de Hory by one Ken Talbot:

Retired London bookmaker Ken Talbot, ... owned more than 400 de Hory works that adorned every wall of his plush Regents Park townhouse.
Now, an Auckland descendent who inherited two items from him is selling two "Claude Monet" paintings.

A member of the ARCA family, Penny Jackson, Director of the Tauranga Art Gallery here in New Zealand, first spotted the article.  The link to the article then went to curator and art fraud specialist Colette Loll who attended courses at the inaugural ARCA Postgraduate program in 2009, and is the founder and director of Art Fraud Insights (http://www.artfraudinsights.com.

Mark Forgy is de Hory’s heir and author of 'TheForger’s Apprentice: Life with the World’s Most Notorious Artist’ (2012), a memoir of his life with de Hory up until de Hory’s untimely death in 1976. Colette Loll and Mark Forgy have collaborated significantly on several projects including a book, documentary film and Colette’s exhibition, ‘Intent to Deceive’ (www.intenttodeceive.org), for which Mark was a major lender.

Ms. Loll immediately sent the article on to Mr. Forgy.

Closing the circle, Mark Forgy then emailed the auctioneers, Cordy’s in Auckland, New Zealand.  He said to them:

“Please be aware that Talbot himself was a con man who established a robust cottage industry of fabricating phony works by de Hory. I write about Talbot in my book ‘The Forger's Apprentice : Life with the World's Most Notorious Artist’. I was de Hory's friend, personal assistant and am his sole legal heir. I authenticate his works. I assure you that the painting you intend to auction in the manner of Claude Monet is NOT by de Hory.  I have added this bogus de Hory to scores of others I've harvested from online auction sites.

Mark later commented:

When I said that Talbot started a cottage industry of fabricating phony works by Elmyr, he wasn't the painter of them. Talbot had others do the fake Elmyrs. I suspect they came from some Asian source, but I can't be certain.

The next day, on the morning of the auction, Tuesday 7 October, news came through that Cordy’s had commendably and immediately withdrawn the two paintings from sale.  Under the headline ‘Auction House Pulls Paintings When Told Forgeries Faked’, Mark Forgy is quoted in the follow-up article in the New Zealand Herald:

"Talbot fabricated an oft-told story that he acquired hundreds of works by Elmyr in exchange for unpaid loans. All this is just nonsense," Forgy said yesterday. Forgy now monitors online auction sites for fake de Hory works and has added the latest pair to the collection.
He said the irony of the famous faker himself being copied "is never lost on me".
"The subject of others forging his works came up only one time. We both contemplated that for a moment and then laughed at the far-fetched notion," he said.
Auctioneer Andrew Grigg confirmed their withdrawal from today's antique and art sale.
"Of course it is never our intention to deceive and we were not aware that the faker's works were faked," he said.

So, within a few short days of the initial article being published online, ARCA's network was instrumental in helping to ensure that these forgeries of de Hory’s forgeries of two "Monets" were not wrongly sold to an unsuspecting buyer who might have purchased them because they were, as it initially seemed, ‘genuine’ forgeries. 

Mark Forgy, reflecting on how this all unfolded, comments:

I think the issue of "fake fakes" merits attention in that it speaks to the deeply flawed art market. It brings art fraud to another level of criminal inventiveness. More alarmingly, we see a marketplace that incentivizes such activity for the lack of regulation of the art trade. The loopholes in the safety net (if one exists) are welcoming portals for anyone intent on committing larceny. One inescapable irony is that art never seems to gather as much attention as when its authenticity is questioned, and through this examination process these fraudsters hold up a mirror, showing us who we are as a society, our values, and how we view art. So, in an unintended way, they become our social conscience. No, there's no lack of irony here.


Ironies all round indeed ...

August 11, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014 - , No comments

Elmyr de Hory: Mark Forgy, the forger's "personal assistant", speaks to Snap Judgment in "The Grand Illusion"

Snap Judgment's Joe Rosenberg interviews Mark Forgy and his wife Alice outside of Minneapolis in "The Grand Illusion", the story of the man who owns a home with art in the style of Modigliani, Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne -- all works by the forger Elmyr de Hory. Forgy tells Rosenberg how he came about this art collection: he was 20 years old when he visited the Spanish island of Ibiza and met 'a kind hearted and generous person', a Hungarian artist, who invited Mark and a friend to stay with him at his "sumptuous villa" -- then hired Mark as his "personal live-in assistant". You can hear the interview here.

January 7, 2014

indiegogo campaign to raise funds for Elmyr de Hory documentary includes appearances by 2009 ARCA students

Elmyr de Hory (indiegogo campaign)
Yesterday's email newsletter for the Art Fix Daily ("curated art world news and exclusives") highlighted  the "Documentary Planned on the Life, Art & Lies of Elmyr de Hory" in production with filmmaker Jeff Oppenheim ("Funny Valentine" and "A Passion for Giving") who created an indiegogo campaign last month.

Artfix.Daily reports that the film is expected to be released this summer:
Following the lead of a professional art crime investigator, the producers examine Elmyr’s past, cut through a myriad of aliases, searching for never-before-revealed archival records, police files, and the circumstances contributing to his illicit career.  The team works to unravel the mystery of Elmyr’s true identity, extent of his criminal activity, personal motivations, and unusual and extraordinary talent.  The film also relies in part on the recollections of people who knew Elmyr, including the man who lived with Elmyr for the last ten years of his life and up until the artist’s suicide in 1976.  Footage also includes an interview with Elmyr’s lawyer and long-time friend who stands firm in his conviction that Elmyr would never have gone to jail for his crimes.  Ultimately the film raises the bar with new research that suggests that the number of Elmyr’s fakes might substantially exceed the number previously estimated. 
The documentary also weaves a grander contemporary moralistic narrative. “In part, Real Fake examines the issues of art forgery and the current run-away art market,” says Oppenheim. “However, it also offers us the opportunity to explore the grander themes of what is art, what is the value of art and for that matter how these perceptions enter our own lives outside of the art world on a daily basis.”
The 3-minute Vimeo video part of the fundraising campaign to raise $25,000 by February 3 at "Real Fake -- The Life, Art & Crimes of Elmyr de Hory" includes appearances by Allen Olsen Urtecho, art crime investigator, and Colette (Loll) Marvin, curator -- both of whom attended ARCA's program in art crime studies and cultural heritage preservation in Amelia in 2009.

Colette Loll Marvin spoke in Budapest in 2010 on "Curating Art Crime".

Jonathan Keats wrote about de Hory in his book Forged: Why Fakes Are the Great Art of Our Age (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Elmyr de Hory's executor, Mark Forgy, successfully funded a play on the forger on Kickstarter last year (see an earlier ARCA blog post here).

UPDATE: Both Colette Loll and Mark Forgy contacted the ARCA blog after publication of this post and the Artfix.daily. Both Colette Loll and Mark Forgy informed ARCA that they are no longer associated with this documentary film project.

July 3, 2013

Elmyr de Hory's friend Mark Forgy Begins Campaign on kickstarter.com to launch play "The Forger's Apprentice" at the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA blog Editor

Mark Forgy, a friend of the forger Elmyr de Hory, sent out an email today:
Dear Friends,
I’m excited to share a new adventure with you. We’ve launched The Forger’s Apprentice – the new play—on kickstarter.com. This is a website dedicated to helping develop new projects. Please visit  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1072981678/the-forgers-apprentice-a-new-play to view a video about our play, interviews with our cast members, and check out our supporter-friendly donor incentive packages. We need and encourage your help in realizing this world premier stage adaptation of my story and life with one of the most remarkable artists of modern times. Mary Abbe, Arts columnist of the Star Tribune called my book “an incredible read.” It’s time to bring this amazing tale to life. Please be a valued part of this creative process. We anticipate a wonderful production. Advance ticket sales are available at: http://www.fringefestival.org/2013/show/?id=2463
Thank you for your help
This theatrical event also has a Facebook page and has five scheduled performances from August 3 through August 11 at the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

According to Mr. Forgy: "The play dramatizes the complex relationship between Elmyr de Hory and his two apprentices, one who wants to protect him and the other who seeks to destroy him. It is a story that is rich with outrageous humor, tragedy, love and search for the truth as seen through the eyes of his true protégé."
This new play is based on the book The Forger’s Apprentice (a true story) by Mark Forgy. Described by Star Tribune Arts columnist Mary Abbe as “an incredible read,” veteran MN Fringe producers Kevin Bowen (The Red Tureen) and Sara Pilatzki-Warzeha (Thick Chick) bring to the stage a Kafka-meets-Marx Brothers tale of Elmyr (pronounced el-MEER) de Hory a.k.a. the world’s greatest art forger. 
The drama unfolds in a courtroom hearing on 7 December 1976, deciding whether Elmyr will be extradited from Spain to stand trial in France for art crimes based on charges concocted by Fernand Legros, his increasingly menacing dealer bent on destroying him. Elmyr’s young American protégé, Mark, intent on protecting his artist/mentor friend navigates this Dali-esque reality of misplaced trust, half-truths and lies trying to reconcile what’s authentic, what’s not. In the aftermath of a life governed by duplicity Elmyr struggles to shed his image of talented scoundrel; hoping for a reevaluation of his art untainted by reputation but based on artistic merit. While his relationship with Mark achieves a depth neither anticipated, Mark’s innocence blinds him to the threat Fernand Legros poses. During the days before the pending court decision that will determine Elmyr’s fate, he reflects on the ironies of his life, the effects of free but poor choices, the circumstantial nature of morality, the dirty little secrets of the art world, and  events determined not by him, but others. 

In 1973 Orson Welles produced his last feature film: F for Fake, a docu-fantasy on the world of trickery and illusion. De Hory was its focus. Welles adored Elmyr and felt a roguish/artistic kinship with the artist, drawing trompe l’oeil correlations between film and fine art, how artifice and pretense in each domain create a parallel universe more deserving of suspicion than eulogy. While taking some artistic license with this stage adaptation of “The Forger’s Apprentice,” the unreality of the story and characters is eerily close to fact. It is bizarre and wildly entertaining; a piece about which Lewis Carroll might have written, “I wish I had thought of that.”
The Forger's Apprentice was published in July 2012 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

San Francisco art critic Jonathan Keats wrote about Elmyr de Hory in his book FORGED: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age (December 2012, Oxford University Press).

March 9, 2013

Jonathan Keats' FORGED: Elmyr de Hory (1906(?)-1976, What Is Identity?


The artist who copyrighted his mind in 2003, Jonathan Keats, questions the concept of originality in his new book, FORGED: Why Fakes Are the Great Art of Our Age (December 2012, Oxford University Press). He writes a section on art forger Elmyr de Hory.

The forger most commonly known as Elmyr de Hory fabricated his name, his life story, and had so little credibility that quantifying the number of oil paintings faked is unknown even decades after his suicide in Ibiza in 1976. Keats writes:

Elmyr’s plagiarism of authentic works only served to obfuscate, confounding the identification of work he really faked. In the catalogue for a 2010 de Hory retrospective at the Hillstrom Art Museum, Irving estimated that up to 90 percent of Elmyr’s forgeries remained undetected. “Elmyr’s illegitimate masterpieces in public and private collections under the names of a number of the great Modernists may continue resting undisturbed, perhaps forever,” mused museum director Donald Myers, inadvertently echoing de Hory. (“If you hang them in a museum and if they hang long enough,” said Elmyr in F is for Fake, “then they become real.”)

Orson Welles’ film F is for Fake (1975) and the fictional biography Fake (1969) by Clifford Irving (of the Howard Hughes autobiography hoax) provided no further biographical clarity about de Hory.  But what of the effect in the art world of de Hory’s fakes? In 1952, when Beverly Hills gallery owner Frank Perls decided drawings presented by Louis Raynal (de Hory) ‘were fraudulent, he evicted Raynal from his gallery and – as he later recalled – threatened to call the police if Raynal didn’t leave town'.  Three years later, a curator at Boston’s Fogg Art Museum also returned drawings represented as by Modigliani and Renoir to Raynal and relegated an Elmyr ‘Matisse’ to storage. ‘Lest he (de Hory) sue for defamation, Elmyr was never told what happened.’ In 1966, Texan oil tycoon Algur Hurtle Meadows bargained hard to purchase 58 modern masterpieces in oils, watercolors and gouache pictures by Elmyr de Hory through a pair of art dealers, Legros and Lessard, alleged to have manufactured the authentication of these works. Keats writes:

They bribed the experts or had their official stamps counterfeited. When the artists were still alive, the duo gambled on poor memory and failing eyesight, a ruse known to have worked at least once on an eighty-nine-year-old Kees van Dongen, who authenticated an Elmyr ostensibly painted when van Dongen was in his forties. The extensive documentation allowed Legros and Lessard to circumvent galleries, retailing directly to the nouveau riche of Europe and the United States.

De Hory spent the last years of his life selling paintings in the manner of master artists under his own name until he killed himself ‘with a cocktail of sleeping pills and cognac to avoid extradition to France, where he was to be tried for fraud in the long-drawn-out [Algur Hurtle] Meadows case.'

October 2, 2011

Stonehill College: "Veteran Art Detectives Discuss Most Notorious Cases at Martin Institute"

Photo: Virginia Curry and Dick Ellis
Here's a link to Stonehill College's website and the post about the lecture by former art police investigators, Virginia Curry (FBI) and Dick Ellis (Scotland Yard). Cases highlighted included "Peter the Cheater"; forger Elmyr de Hory; the thefts at Russborough House; looting of Egyptian antiquities; the Sevso Silver; and the involvement of James "Whitey" Bulger in the 1990 theft of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.


November 23, 2010

ARCA's Colette Loll Marvin Lectures on "Curating Art Crime" in Budapest


By Catherine Schofield Sezgin

Last weekend ARCA's Director of Public and Institutional Relations, Colette Loll Marvin, lectured on "Curating Crime" to a group of students in the Arts Management program at the International Business School of Budapest.

Ms. Marvin spoke about several recent museum exhibitions dedicated to the subject of art crime, specifically forgery. Marvin has been conducting research for a documentary on the famed Hungarian forger Elmyr de Hory (1906-1976) who was arguably the most prolific forger of the twentieth century.

De Hory operated primarily in Europe and the United States for three decades and is alleged to have circulated hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of paintings into the art market, according to Marvin. Unable to find success in selling his own original works, Marvin said, De Hory turned his talents and Beaux Arts training towards the crafting of fake paintings in the style of Modigliani, Picasso, Matisse, Dufy, Vlamink and other Impressionist and Modernist masters.

“Fakes and forgeries were once the dirty little secret of the art world,” Marvin said. “No gallery, museum or auction house is entirely free from the embarrassment of a costly error of misattribution or faulty provenance. Duped museums can feel slightly vindicated, however, as there is a growing public fascination in these costly mistakes, as witnessed by the record crowds visiting exhibits dedicated to fakes, mistakes and misattributions.”

The latest exhibit, "Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries" opened this weekend at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit and examines 58 artworks from paintings to decorative arts in the museum's collection whose artist attribution and authenticity have changed since being donated or purchased by the institution.

Professor Jeff Taylor, an American art historian currently completing the doctoral program at Central European University on the subject of the historical evolution of the Hungarian art market, invited Marvin to speak to the class after being asked to serve as a Humanities advisor to her film project.

"Colette's presentation served as the ideal exclamation point to this section of the semester which had been focusing on the problems of the art market, particularly fakes, plunder, and restitution,” Taylor said. “I think the students got a full appreciation for how much these issues are being widely discussed, both in the many recent exhibitions which were shown, but also in terms of Colette's documentary project on Elmyr de Hory, and that seemed to generate a lot of interest among them in the ARCA Postgraduate program."

The Arts Management program at the International Business School of Budapest is a recently added program and boasts a curriculum designed to produce students that are well versed in the business aspects of the art market.

Ms. Marvin also gave a presentation to the undergraduate class about ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate in International Art Crime Studies.

ARCA’s courses include “Art Crime and Its History” by Noah Charney, founding director of ARCA; “Art in War” by Judge Arthur Tompkins of New Zealand; “Art Policing and Investigation” by Richard Ellis, former director of Scotland Yard Arts and Antiques Unit; and “Museums, Security, and Art Protection” taught in 2010 by Anthony Amore, Security Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

ARCA’s Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies has taken place in Italy in the medieval town of Amelia in Umbria from June through August for the past two years and is accepting applications through January 3 for the 2011 program.

In addition, ARCA’s third annual International Art Crime Conference is scheduled for July 9th and 10 next summer in Amelia. Papers for the conference will be accepted in the spring.

Art Crime in Hungary

On November 5 1983, thieves robbed the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest and stole paintings by Raphael (Esterhazy Madonna and Portrait of a Young Man); Giorgione (Self-portrait), Tintoretto (Portrait of a Gentleman and Portrait of a Gentlewoman), and Tiepolo (Madonna and the Saints and Rest on the Flight into Egypt). All of the works, including Raphael’s Esterhazy Madonna, also known as Virgin and Child with St. John the Baptist, were recovered two months later by the Italian Carabinieri in an abandoned Greek Monastery near Aigio in northeast Greece. Operation Budapest was a joint investigation between the Italian Carabinieri, the Hungarian police, and the Greek Police.

The Old Gallery of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest has a collection of 3,000 Old Master Paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries, with more than 700 acquired from the Esterhazy estate, a noble family of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Inadequate physical maintenance may have made the museum vulnerable to thieves. A visitor to the Budapest museum in the 1980s described the 1906 building housing the collection as “in a sorry state” with “various roofs leaking and many of its masterpieces draped in sheets of polythene to protect them when rain fell.” The museum had been bombed in World War II and the construction of an underground railway may have damaged the building’s structure.

According to the Commission for Art Recovery, about 20 percent of all Western art in Europe was looted during the war. During World War II, the Hungarian government, a Nazi ally, confiscated art owned by Jews. The Hungarian government participated in the 1998 Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets and agreed to work to identify Nazi-era looted art and opening museum archives for provenance research. However, the Jewish Claims Conference and World Jewish Restitution Organization claims that Hungary has disregarded the principles and not returned art looted from Holocaust victims.

The family of Baron Mar Lipot Herzog, a wealthy patron of the arts, who lived in Budapest and died in 1934, has sought restitution from Hungary with no success, according to a recent article by Judy Dempsey in the New York Times.

Hungary to Sell Communist Relics

Artdaily.org today published an article by Pablo Gorondi of the Associated Press about an upcoming auction in Budapest of the sale of 230 communist-era relics, including a life-size bust of former Soviet dictator Vladimir Lenin.