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The Famous Forger Turned Artist

Friday 17th October 2014

As with anything valuable, forgery has been a plague on the art world since time out of mind. Imagine spending tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands on a work that appears genuine to even the trained eye, yet is barely worth the cost of the materials used to produce it. Such is the nightmare that keeps art collectors and museum curators awake at night, and with good reason - the fallout from such a discovery can be monumental. That being said, when a certain degree of skill is attained by the forger - when they are so good that all but the very best trained authenticators will be fooled - one can't help but admire the skill that goes into creating such elaborate fakes, even if it is remarkably immoral.

Enter the world-famous forger John Myatt, who rocked the art world in the 1990s with the revelations that his fakes had sold at auction houses around the world as original works by some of the most famed artists of the last several centuries. Among the artists whose work was faked were Le Corbusier and Matisse among many others, with even the most careful authenticators being fooled. Some of the works were sold for many tens of thousands of pounds, and not all of them have been recovered to date.

After a long and extensive trial in 1999, Myatt and the mastermind behind the scheme, John Drewe, were sentenced to prison terms, and both were released early. Since then, Myatt has gone on to make a career out of his incredible talent for stylistic mimicry, and has done quite well for himself, with some of his works being sold for upwards of £45,000. He currently has a show of original works at Castle Galleries in Exeter, England, who are also responsible for managing his sales.

"The difference between me and a forger is that I don’t do copies anymore. While there are plenty of people who will copy a master, I will create a painting in the style of an artist – and there lies a very important distinction," says Myatt.
 
“I know that I’ll always be known as the art forger who duped the experts but while that period of my life is definitely over, it set me on a path I never knew would be possible.”

Posted on October 17th 2014 on 08:17pm
Labels: art, forgery, fraud

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