Forgers also remind us that great art depends on the ideas of artists, not necessarily on their actual hands. Many wonderful works of art by figures such as Titian, Rembrandt and Rubens were executed partly or even mostly by their studio assistants, which doesn’t make them any less expressive of Titian or Rembrandt’s innovations. For nearly two decades, our forger in Queens managed to fool both the dealers at Knoedler and their art-savvy clients, and the only reason his fakes could exist and succeed is because the true achievement of Pollock and Rothko was to come up with a set of ideas and procedures for making art. The faker could be considered a faithful assistant of theirs who happened to arrive after they’d died; ditto the hundreds of forgers of Qi Baishi.
As for you artists, firmly establishing yourself as link number one in the chain of provenance is essential. These days, proof of authenticity or authorship accompanying a work of art is more important than ever. In order to prevent unscrupulous sellers from trafficking in fakes, and avoid situations where people question your art, keep good records right from the start and provide some form of documentation with every artwork you produce. The last thing you want is people trying to figure out whether or not you actually created certain works, or contacting you with requests to authenticate works that have no accompanying paperwork or documentation. The bad news is that in the long run, repeated incidents surrounding undocumented art can actually compromise your market. So make sure there's never any doubt that ownership of your art begins with you. Read more about how to do that in this article about How to Authenticate Your Art.
It is important to note that objects identified as containing a Nazi-era provenance are not assumed to have been looted during the Nazi era or to have been acquired illegally. Rather, by making this information available to the public, the Nelson-Atkins provides an opportunity for additional information to be made available and fulfills its mission to steward responsibly the collections in its care.

Whenever I am approached by someone to buy my art, who I did not know, I always insist that I be paid through PayPal or Payoneer. After that, I usually never heard from those people again.  Another way for an artist to protect themselves in a transaction like this is to insist to have the transaction handled by an escrow agent.  The final transaction, shipping etc. is not completed until all of the funds have been verified and cleared.  Any legitimate buyer or collector of art will not have a problem dealing in either manner.  Anyone who objects to this way of doing business with you is someone who you do not want to do business with!


For museums and the art trade provenance has increasingly important, not just in the older way where establishing the authorship and authenticity of an object was the main concern, but in establishing the moral and legal validity of its chain of custody, given the increasing amount of looted art. This first became a major concern regarding works that had changed hands in Nazi-controlled areas in Europe before and during World War II. Many museums began compiling pre-active registers of such works and their history. Recently the same concerns have come to prominence for works of African art, often exported illegally, and antiquities from many parts of the world, but currently especially in Iraq, and then Syria.[2]
The Responsible Art Market, or RAM, is an industry-supported not-for-profit organization which describes itself as ‘”[r]aising awareness of risks faced by the art industry and providing practical guidance on establishing and implementing responsible practices to address those risks.”  On its website, RAM provides both an Art Transaction Due Diligence Toolkit, as well as Guidelines on Combatting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (“AML Guidelines”).  The AML Guidelines are similar to the protocols set forth by the Basel Institute, but provide slightly more concrete detail.  They set forth eight basic principles:
* If the seller states that the work of art sold at an auction house, have them provide the name and contact information for the auction house as well as the date of the sale and lot number of the art in that sale. Just because an auction house sells a work of art does not automatically make that work of art genuine. Best procedure here is to get a copy of the auction catalog and carefully read the listing for the art.
In March 2001 in Boston, meeting with an undercover agent posing as a drug dealer who showed interest in buying the putative Raphael, Stewart said he could move cash, exchange cash for gems in addition to art, and handle the resale of the Raphael, the agent's affidavit says. Eventually, the deal shifted to the Modigliani and Degas, the affidavit says, and Stewart fell out of the transaction.
In regards to the critical issue of the source of the funds, the AML Guidelines “encourage” art businesses “to decline payments from a third party who is not their client and buyer of record. If there are legitimate reasons why it is justified for the Art Business to accept payment from a third party, before doing so the Art Business should conduct enhanced due diligence on both their buyer of record and the third party payer[.]”  The AML Guidelines also articulate a “preference” for art businesses only “to accept payments from reputable banks in jurisdictions subject to AML regulation and supervision.  Such reputable banks and financial institutions are generally subject to a high degree of AML regulation. That said[,] Art Businesses should remain vigilent and not rely entirely on the fact that banks and financial institutions will have carried out the necessary checks and verification to be satisfied that the source of funds is clean.”
IN Queens, a guy working in his garage churned out “Pollocks” and “Rothkos” that fooled the experts, sold for millions of dollars and helped destroy the Knoedler & Company gallery, as we learned in recent months. In China, thousands of artisans have forged the country’s artistic treasures, both ancient and modern, according to a report in The New York Times.

When one of the oldest and most respected art galleries in America, the Knoedler Gallery in New York, closed its doors abruptly in 2011, the art world was stunned. Not because the gallery closed, but by the discovery that over the course of 15 years, the gallery and its president, Ann Freedman, had sold millions of dollars in forgeries to wealthy collectors.

At times restoration of a piece is so extensive that the original is essentially replaced when new materials are used to supplement older ones. An art restorer may also add or remove details on a painting, in an attempt to make the painting more saleable on the contemporary art market. This, however, is not a modern phenomenon - historical painters often "retouched" other artist's works by repainting some of the background or details.


The Internet has put a new spin on the old crime. The rise of online banking institutions, anonymous online payment services and peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers with mobile phones have made detecting the illegal transfer of money even more difficult. Moreover, the use of proxy servers and anonymizing software makes the third component of money laundering, integration, almost impossible to detect—money can be transferred or withdrawn leaving little or no trace of an IP address.
There are several maintained and open-source provenance capture implementation at the operating system level such as CamFlow,[42][43], Progger[44] for Linux and MS Windows, and SPADE for Linux, MS Windows, and MacOS.[45] Other implementations exist for specific programming and scripting languages, such as RDataTracker[46] for R, and NoWorkflow[47] for Python.

Prosecution is also possible under state criminal laws, such as prohibitions against criminal fraud, or against the simulation of personal signatures. However, in order to trigger criminal liability under states' laws, the government must prove that the defendant had intent to defraud. The evidentiary burden, as in all criminal prosecutions, is high; proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" is required.[27]


This would all just be face-palm silliness on the Times’s part, a reflection of its editorial disconnect between the culture pages and the business staff, if the story didn’t also glide over the real point of what is going on here. The best protected transactions in the art market are those that pass through the auction houses because those firms do the KYC due diligence that squelch money laundering. Auction houses have compliance staff and are easily monitored by the law enforcement which doesn’t crack down on large private transactions that take place through lawyers or dealers.  The Times admits this when they point out that Jho Low passed KYC diligence before it was revealed that he was involved in the 1MDB transactions. After it was revealed, he is no longer able to access art markets through the auction houses.
New England Glass Works (American, 1818-1888), Black-Amethyst Sinumbra Lamp, 1830-1835, Translucent dark amethyst glass appearing black, pressed, with patinated copper alloy (brass) fittings and iron alloy lamp mechanism, a blown transparent colorless glass shade, ground and wheel-cut, and a transparent blown glass chimney (replaced), 17 1/2 in., 2016.214.

“The biggest [problem] is that . . . Rosales kept walking in [to Knoedler] with unknown works that had no documentation. This should have signaled that the works were fake,” he tells The Post. “It was too good to be true — this heir selling 31 unseen masterpieces by the greatest artists for fractions of their market prices? It happens, but the idea of 31 works going — unnoticed — out of these artists’ studios to a collector is like winning the lottery 31 times.”
(function(){"use strict";function s(e){return"function"==typeof e||"object"==typeof e&&null!==e}function a(e){return"function"==typeof e}function l(e){X=e}function u(e){G=e}function c(){return function(){r.nextTick(p)}}function f(){var e=0,n=new ne(p),t=document.createTextNode("");return n.observe(t,{characterData:!0}),function(){t.data=e=++e%2}}function d(){var e=new MessageChannel;return e.port1.onmessage=p,function(){e.port2.postMessage(0)}}function h(){return function(){setTimeout(p,1)}}function p(){for(var e=0;et.length)&&(n=t.length),n-=e.length;var r=t.indexOf(e,n);return-1!==r&&r===n}),String.prototype.startsWith||(String.prototype.startsWith=function(e,n){return n=n||0,this.substr(n,e.length)===e}),String.prototype.trim||(String.prototype.trim=function(){return this.replace(/^[\s\uFEFF\xA0]+|[\s\uFEFF\xA0]+$/g,"")}),String.prototype.includes||(String.prototype.includes=function(e,n){"use strict";return"number"!=typeof n&&(n=0),!(n+e.length>this.length)&&-1!==this.indexOf(e,n)})},"./shared/require-global.js":function(e,n,t){e.exports=t("./shared/require-shim.js")},"./shared/require-shim.js":function(e,n,t){var r=t("./shared/errors.js"),i=(this.window,!1),o=null,s=null,a=new Promise(function(e,n){o=e,s=n}),l=function(e){if(!l.hasModule(e)){var n=new Error('Cannot find module "'+e+'"');throw n.code="MODULE_NOT_FOUND",n}return t("./"+e+".js")};l.loadChunk=function(e){return a.then(function(){return"main"==e?t.e("main").then(function(e){t("./main.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"dev"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("dev")]).then(function(e){t("./shared/dev.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"internal"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("internal"),t.e("qtext2"),t.e("dev")]).then(function(e){t("./internal.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"ads_manager"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("ads_manager")]).then(function(e){t("./ads_manager/main.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"publisher_dashboard"==e?t.e("publisher_dashboard").then(function(e){undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"content_widgets"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("content_widgets")]).then(function(e){t("./content_widgets.iframe.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):void 0})},l.whenReady=function(e,n){Promise.all(window.webpackChunks.map(function(e){return l.loadChunk(e)})).then(function(){n()})},l.installPageProperties=function(e,n){window.Q.settings=e,window.Q.gating=n,i=!0,o()},l.assertPagePropertiesInstalled=function(){i||(s(),r.logJsError("installPageProperties","The install page properties promise was rejected in require-shim."))},l.prefetchAll=function(){t("./settings.js");Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("qtext2")]).then(function(){}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe)},l.hasModule=function(e){return!!window.NODE_JS||t.m.hasOwnProperty("./"+e+".js")},l.execAll=function(){var e=Object.keys(t.m);try{for(var n=0;n=c?n():document.fonts.load(u(o,'"'+o.family+'"'),a).then(function(n){1<=n.length?e():setTimeout(t,25)},function(){n()})}t()});var w=new Promise(function(e,n){l=setTimeout(n,c)});Promise.race([w,m]).then(function(){clearTimeout(l),e(o)},function(){n(o)})}else t(function(){function t(){var n;(n=-1!=y&&-1!=g||-1!=y&&-1!=v||-1!=g&&-1!=v)&&((n=y!=g&&y!=v&&g!=v)||(null===f&&(n=/AppleWebKit\/([0-9]+)(?:\.([0-9]+))/.exec(window.navigator.userAgent),f=!!n&&(536>parseInt(n[1],10)||536===parseInt(n[1],10)&&11>=parseInt(n[2],10))),n=f&&(y==b&&g==b&&v==b||y==x&&g==x&&v==x||y==j&&g==j&&v==j)),n=!n),n&&(null!==_.parentNode&&_.parentNode.removeChild(_),clearTimeout(l),e(o))}function d(){if((new Date).getTime()-h>=c)null!==_.parentNode&&_.parentNode.removeChild(_),n(o);else{var e=document.hidden;!0!==e&&void 0!==e||(y=p.a.offsetWidth,g=m.a.offsetWidth,v=w.a.offsetWidth,t()),l=setTimeout(d,50)}}var p=new r(a),m=new r(a),w=new r(a),y=-1,g=-1,v=-1,b=-1,x=-1,j=-1,_=document.createElement("div");_.dir="ltr",i(p,u(o,"sans-serif")),i(m,u(o,"serif")),i(w,u(o,"monospace")),_.appendChild(p.a),_.appendChild(m.a),_.appendChild(w.a),document.body.appendChild(_),b=p.a.offsetWidth,x=m.a.offsetWidth,j=w.a.offsetWidth,d(),s(p,function(e){y=e,t()}),i(p,u(o,'"'+o.family+'",sans-serif')),s(m,function(e){g=e,t()}),i(m,u(o,'"'+o.family+'",serif')),s(w,function(e){v=e,t()}),i(w,u(o,'"'+o.family+'",monospace'))})})},void 0!==e?e.exports=a:(window.FontFaceObserver=a,window.FontFaceObserver.prototype.load=a.prototype.load)}()},"./third_party/tracekit.js":function(e,n){/**
Art forgery. Boston. The Gardner heist. Degas. A woman artist-protagonist. The personal letters of Isabella herself. Even a whiff of Whitey Bulger. This book had all the promising ingredients for something delectable, but unfortunately, the souffle fell flat when the oven door opened up. The main character, starving artist Claire, is an unpalatable combination of hyper-competent artist/forger and a whiny young woman who constantly plays the victim. Not to say that you would never find those trai ...more
Art forgery dates back more than two thousand years. Roman sculptors produced copies of Greek sculptures. Presumably[clarification needed] the contemporary buyers knew that they were not genuine. During the classical period art was generally created for historical reference, religious inspiration, or simply aesthetic enjoyment. The identity of the artist was often of little importance to the buyer.
A monumental sculptural forgery was a copy based on a Greek bronze statuette of a warrior of 470 bc, only five inches high and located in the Antikenabteilung, Berlin. The forgers made an eight-foot-high reproduction of it in terra-cotta and offered it as an Etruscan masterpiece. The resemblance was noted by the experts, who thought it to be an example of an Etruscan artist borrowing a Greek design motif. In 1961, after it had been in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for 40 years, an analysis was made of the black glaze that covered the figure. It was found that the glaze contained as a colouring agent manganese, which never was used for this purpose in ancient times. Finally, Alfredo Adolfo Fioravanti confessed that he was the sole survivor of the three forgers.
Sometimes, they give us works that great artists simply didn’t get around to making. If a fake is good enough to fool experts, then it’s good enough to give the rest of us pleasure, even insight. The late Swiss collector Ernst Beyeler called a fake Rothko from Queens a “sublime unknown masterwork” in 2005 and hung it in his namesake museum. Why not think of that picture as the sublime masterwork that Rothko happened not to have got around to? Is it a bad thing if thousands more people in China get to own works by the great modern master Qi Baishi — even if the works they own aren’t actually by him? In some ways, they are by him, in the profound sense that they almost perfectly capture his unique contribution to art. If they didn’t, no one would imagine he’d made them.
These are all Pei-Shen Qian's forgeries. Incredibly, he was able to copy the style and technique of not just one major artist, but many of the giants of the 20th century: Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Franz Kline, Lee Krasner, Mark Rothko and others. He forged 63 works that sold for more than $80 million to collectors.
“It’s a useful resource for museums, auction houses, and dealers primarily that need to ply a particular artwork out of a collection,” says Brad Shar, whose New York–based firm Lowy works with both institutions and individual collectors to create reproductions. “The possibility of having an exact copy to fill a wall space is a powerful incentive a lot of the time.”
The anonymity of buyers is also a huge advantage for criminals. Who hasn’t seen the images of an art auction for a famous painting at Christie’s or Sotheby’s, where brokers are on the phone with mysterious clients? Art market operators generally refuse to disclose the identities of their clients under the guise of “protecting the integrity of the transactions.”

Art scammers have one objective and that is to separate the artist from their art or from their money, or both.  When approached by a stranger on the Internet, always be aware of and skeptical of phony emails and solicitations.  The old adage that says “when it sounds too good to be true…” still stands true today.  All artists should be aware of and comfortable with whom they are dealing with when they are selling their art on the Internet.


I confess to being wrapped up in the reading of this book and particularly the art of art forgery Shapiro unmasks. I have often wondered why a painting that has hung for hundreds of years on museum walls and been praised for its style and beauty is not just as valuable and just as precious when it is discovered that it was not painted by one of the greats but by his apprentice. Doesn't the art remain the same. Isn't it just as valuable as art even if it was painted by an unknown? We seem to carr ...more

Of course, beyond AML-related process concerns, any art dealer — just like any business person — always must remember that just about any financial transaction that involves proceeds known to have originated from illegal activity represents a criminal money laundering offense.  Stated otherwise, even if the BSA is not expanded to include dealers in art and antiquities, those in the U.S. art industry still need to bear in mind, in extreme examples, the omnipresent federal criminal code.  Sometimes, the provenance of the funds can be more critical than the provenance of the art.

The Wolf of Wall Street was a hit when it was released in 2013. Moviegoers all over the world loved the story of excessive wealth and greed. But most people didn’t know that the movie was partially funded by a money-laundering scheme involving famous works of art. Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, had siphoned part of a $1 billion fortune from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund into American assets, such as real estate and paintings by Basquiat, Rothko, and Van Gogh.


In the late 20th century, art fraud was propelled by a rise in the popularity of art as an investment. With more collectors and museums vying for an ever-smaller number of works by noted artists or from esteemed eras in the history of art, motivations for fraud were exponentially increased. At the same time, modern science made it possible to authenticate works of art to a greater degree than at any time in the past, though even those scientific tests led at times to ambiguous results.
×