Art Forgery News – The picture on the left is not the real Norval Morrisseau. It’s one of several counterfeit items seized by Ontario provincial police in a multi-million dollar computer scam. On the right is an original photo from 1975 by the wife and daughter of an Ojibwe artist for comparison. Ontario Provincial Police/AFP via Getty Images; McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Jon S. Dellandrea is an art historian, collector, president emeritus of the Art Canada Institute, and author of The Great Canadian Art Fraud: Forgeries of The Group of Seven with Tom Thomson.
Art Forgery News
To some, especially outside of Canada, the Ojibwe artist Norval Morrisseau is a “Northern Picasso”. But to a generation of Canadians, he was a car.
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Born on the Sandpoint Reservation in 1932 and raised by his maternal grandparents, he was sent to St. Joseph Indian Boarding School in Fort William, Ontario, at the age of six, and dropped out of school at the age of ten. Inspired by Aboriginal legends and traditional paintings, he developed as an artist, founded the Woodland School, and had exhibitions around the world from the National Gallery of Canada to the Smithsonian Art Gallery in Washington.
“The enforcement of national policies has only recently given First Nations the right to vote in federal elections,” the history professor wrote. of Carleton University, Carmen Robertson. It is modern within the narrow range accepted by the traditional cultural world.”
Norval Morrisseau works on a painting at Tom Thomson’s home in Kleinburg, Ontario, 1979. Jack Dobson/The Globe and Mail
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Morrisseau was widely praised for his extraordinary talent and work until his death in 2007 at the age of 75. The art market also reflected this in the values and demands for his work.
And for all his achievements and all his fame, he has also received attention from fraudsters who are driven by an artificial market motivated by greed. That was true in life. He revealed that there were at least 175 fakes in six houses during his lifetime. And in death too.
Earlier this month, eight Ontario men were charged with running three companies that produced Norval Morrisseau’s paintings and then sold them for tens of millions of dollars in what one police officer called “the the biggest fraud in the history of the world.” Disputes. More than 1,000 jobs were confiscated. Police say at least one of them gave fake certificates of authenticity. Since then, many buyers have realized that they seem to have been misled, and the main market for Morrisseau’s paintings has collapsed.
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The plans appear to have come to light after the release of the 2019 documentary There Are No Fakes, in which Kevin Hearn, a member of the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies, sued a bookstore for selling material labeled as a fake Morrisseau. “I started thinking, how many people has this guy or other people robbed?” Hearn told the Canadian Press in 2020. The police investigated many of the people accused in the film.
However, the news seems to have Canadians shrugging their shoulders. Maybe it’s because there’s a sense that the “other people” that Hearn is thinking about are rich or famous or don’t really care about failure. a few million dollars.
But the damage done by image fraud goes deeper than that. Ontario Sheriff Kevin Veillieux, who is handling the Morrisseau fraud case, said, “This is not a minor crime that doesn’t matter. These are people who are taking advantage of a person’s legacy.” alone they benefit themselves.” These crimes are certainly not new to the art world and are a problem created by the art world itself.
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Morisot, who was allegedly seized by the OPP, is a product of three parties. It’s unclear how many pieces of paper they made, but it could be 4,500 to 6,000, said Thunder Bay Detective Jason Rybak. OPP/AFP via Getty Images
Forgery has long been a part of the history of art collecting. In 1496, a 21-year-old Roman artist created a marble statue of the sleeping Eros, the Roman god of love and passion. The piece was buried in the ground to accelerate the effects of aging, and when it was dug up, the seller sold it as a genuine antique to Cardinal Raffaele Riario, a great collector of ancient art. Years later, Riario discovered the true origin of the statue, but instead of accusing the young artist of fraud, he decided to be his patron. how come? He was impressed by the talent of an artist now remembered by history as Michelangelo, a giant of the Renaissance.
Fast forward to the 1930s and 40s. The accomplished Dutch artist Han van Meegeren was no less angry at the neglect of his talents in the rough community of art critics and journalists at the time. his revenge? Forgeries of works by famous 17th century Dutch Golden Age artists, especially Johannes Vermeer, created Girl with a Pearl Earring.
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Later, the government of his country accused him of fraud, aiding and abetting the enemy, and accused him of selling national treasures such as Vermeer’s paintings to the Nazis. However, after his arrest, van Meegeren revealed that the painting was a hoax.
Although he died in 1947 at the young age of 58, van Meegeren laughed again. A movie was made and a book written about his story, and his fake artworks sold for US$250 million in today’s money. This amount includes money copied from German Nazi leaders who bought “Vermeer”.
After World War II, he succeeded in convincing a Dutch court that the sale was an attempt to deceive the Nazis and not just to profit from it. them, and was sentenced to only one year in prison for fraud. days before he died.
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Issuing certificates of authenticity is nothing new in the world of photography. It’s not difficult to make customer signs, and Group of Seven artists J.E.H. Designed to justify the work of Tom Thomson after a friend drowned in 1917, MacDonald did not use much of his engineering genius.
Neither this Tom Thomson heritage symbol nor this painting is real, but the fakers have taken care to make it look like it. Jon S. Dellandrea Collection, Photo by Doug Nicholson
Canada also had a famous art fraud case before the Morriso case. Although the project is important, the Canadian art community has previously made many-falsified works by the Group of Seven, the Eleven Painters, the Beaver Hall Group and the Painters of the Montée Saint-Michel. Unfortunately, the memory of the public is short, so perhaps it is not surprising that history repeats itself.
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However, the Group of Seven example is particularly instructive. In a landmark trial that shook Canadian art in the early 1960s, librarian Leslie W. Lewis and filmmaker Neil Sharkey were jailed for misleading the public in a A large amount of deceptive art, but not a small price.
The parallels between the 1963 and 2023 chapters are interesting. They all involve a concerted effort by Ontario provincial police to find the source of fake paintings and bring those responsible to justice. They included both prominent Canadians and casual collectors looking for a bargain. And those instigators thought it probably didn’t matter because ordinary people weren’t hurt. But, it is argued that the few rich doctors, lawyers and celebrities who can spend money may lose their money to customers.
But the judge saw it differently in 1963. “It will shake the confidence of movie lovers.” That information should be considered today.
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One of the most interesting things I discovered while doing research for my book was an open secret that in the early 1960s some Canadian art dealers were happy to sell knowingly the fakeness of European art was abandoned in Canada for many years. All jobs are the same. Lewis, one of the buyers sentenced to prison in 1963, sold more than 580 paintings a year through Ward-Price auctioneer, the largest auction house in Canada at that time. We’re not sure how many of those paintings were fake, but there were a lot. How the auction house escaped prosecution remains a mystery. Ben Ward-Price said that he had just sold the item that was given to him and was “out of it”.