Yesterday, I heard of the most wonderful dream job, and I've spent the past 24 hours imagining it.
Picture this: It's a job that requires a lot of creativity. Every day new and interesting challenges come up. The job requires one to work very closely with art, to critically study art history, as well as be good at painting. One works closely with one's family and friends.
It sounds like heaven. But (for me at least), this job I'm thinking of can never be more than a fantasy, because it has the rather glaring problem of being illegal. It is art forgery.
In October 2011, Wolfgang Beltracchi was found guilty of some major cases of art forgery and sentenced to six years in prison. (His guilty plea kept the sentence from being longer). His wife, sister and best friend were sentenced to similar terms for working with him.
Beltracchi and his gang pretended to own paintings by famous German Expressionist artists. In order to sell them for hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said that the works were hitherto unknown, and had belonged to his wife's grandfather until she inherited them on his death. The Beltracchi gang took great pains to make fake documents, signatures and old-looking photographs to prove the authenticity of the paintings, when Beltracchi had in fact painted them himself, in the style of the German Expressionists. It is interesting that he did not copy specific works as much as create his own new works in the style of famous artists, and pass them off as the work of these artists. It is also interesting that the group's fakes were for decades passing through the (apparently not so) scrupulous evaluation of professionals trained to sniff out forgeries.
Wolfgang Beltracchi, Forgery meant to look like a Painting by Max Ernst
If you're interested in this story, I found a really well-done article about the topic on this blog. I think that especially in the blogger's responses in the comments section she makes some insightful points.