Another reason that art fraud is difficult to control is that the art market is enormous, unwieldy, and greatly varied, embracing items from Victorian buttons to 6th-century Greek vases and from medieval pilgrim badges to contemporary photographs. Business is often conducted under the veil of secrecy, with buyers wishing to remain anonymous to avoid the attention of burglars and other opportunists. It would be logistically impossible to monitor all of the transactions between dealers, private collectors, and museums that are in the business of acquiring art. Suspected art forgeries are generally considered on a case-by-case basis, because they can usually be identified only by an expert in the field. But it is not unusual for two experts to have wildly different opinions of the authenticity of the same object, based in each case on reputable evidence.
Knoedler’s fantastic tale of fraud begins in the early 1990s on the streets of Manhattan. That’s where a former waiter from Spain, Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz, came upon a Chinese artist peddling canvases on the sidewalk. Bergantiños approached the man, Pei-Shen Qian, and said that he had friends who wanted works by esteemed artists but could not afford the real things. Could Pei-Shen duplicate paintings for them? Bergantiños reportedly offered $500 per copy.
Recently, some countries in Europe, including Luxembourg and Switzerland, have passed laws to clamp down on money laundering in the art market. Starting in 2016, Switzerland will cap cash transactions at 100,000 Swiss francs ($135,000). Payments above that cash limit will have to be made by credit card, creating a paper trail, or the seller will have to carry out due diligence to ensure the legal origins of the funds.
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]
Mr. Ellis serves as Director of Business Development and Marketing of AML RightSource. He has over 15 years of experience in business development, marketing, and professional consulting within the healthcare and financial services industries. Mr. Ellis earned his undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University and obtained his juris doctor from Cleveland State University – Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

!function(e){function n(t){if(r[t])return r[t].exports;var i=r[t]={i:t,l:!1,exports:{}};return e[t].call(i.exports,i,i.exports,n),i.l=!0,i.exports}var t=window.webpackJsonp;window.webpackJsonp=function(n,r,o){for(var s,a,l=0,u=[];l1)for(var t=1;td)return!1;if(p>f)return!1;var e=window.require.hasModule("shared/browser")&&window.require("shared/browser");return!e||!e.opera}function a(){var e="";return"quora.com"==window.Q.subdomainSuffix&&(e+=[window.location.protocol,"//log.quora.com"].join("")),e+="/ajax/log_errors_3RD_PARTY_POST"}function l(){var e=o(h);h=[],0!==e.length&&c(a(),{revision:window.Q.revision,errors:JSON.stringify(e)})}var u=t("./third_party/tracekit.js"),c=t("./shared/basicrpc.js").rpc;u.remoteFetching=!1,u.collectWindowErrors=!0,u.report.subscribe(r);var f=10,d=window.Q&&window.Q.errorSamplingRate||1,h=[],p=0,m=i(l,1e3),w=window.console&&!(window.NODE_JS&&window.UNIT_TEST);n.report=function(e){try{w&&console.error(e.stack||e),u.report(e)}catch(e){}};var y=function(e,n,t){r({name:n,message:t,source:e,stack:u.computeStackTrace.ofCaller().stack||[]}),w&&console.error(t)};n.logJsError=y.bind(null,"js"),n.logMobileJsError=y.bind(null,"mobile_js")},"./shared/globals.js":function(e,n,t){var r=t("./shared/links.js");(window.Q=window.Q||{}).openUrl=function(e,n){var t=e.href;return r.linkClicked(t,n),window.open(t).opener=null,!1}},"./shared/links.js":function(e,n){var t=[];n.onLinkClick=function(e){t.push(e)},n.linkClicked=function(e,n){for(var r=0;r>>0;if("function"!=typeof e)throw new TypeError;for(arguments.length>1&&(t=n),r=0;r>>0,r=arguments.length>=2?arguments[1]:void 0,i=0;i>>0;if(0===i)return-1;var o=+n||0;if(Math.abs(o)===Infinity&&(o=0),o>=i)return-1;for(t=Math.max(o>=0?o:i-Math.abs(o),0);t>>0;if("function"!=typeof e)throw new TypeError(e+" is not a function");for(arguments.length>1&&(t=n),r=0;r>>0;if("function"!=typeof e)throw new TypeError(e+" is not a function");for(arguments.length>1&&(t=n),r=new Array(s),i=0;i>>0;if("function"!=typeof e)throw new TypeError;for(var r=[],i=arguments.length>=2?arguments[1]:void 0,o=0;o>>0,i=0;if(2==arguments.length)n=arguments[1];else{for(;i=r)throw new TypeError("Reduce of empty array with no initial value");n=t[i++]}for(;i>>0;if(0===i)return-1;for(n=i-1,arguments.length>1&&(n=Number(arguments[1]),n!=n?n=0:0!==n&&n!=1/0&&n!=-1/0&&(n=(n>0||-1)*Math.floor(Math.abs(n)))),t=n>=0?Math.min(n,i-1):i-Math.abs(n);t>=0;t--)if(t in r&&r[t]===e)return t;return-1};t(Array.prototype,"lastIndexOf",c)}if(!Array.prototype.includes){var f=function(e){"use strict";if(null==this)throw new TypeError("Array.prototype.includes called on null or undefined");var n=Object(this),t=parseInt(n.length,10)||0;if(0===t)return!1;var r,i=parseInt(arguments[1],10)||0;i>=0?r=i:(r=t+i)<0&&(r=0);for(var o;r
At Lowy, collectors interested in hiding their originals in the vault, whether for security purposes, to protect delicate works, or to lower the cost to insure them, can reproduce works without the help of a museum. The company employs both specially trained restoration artists and independent artists in need of a day job to conserve and replicate artworks. The process starts with an extremely high-quality print of a digital image, and then the painstaking application of clear conservators’ gel to simulate brushstrokes. Prices start at about $2,000, while frames tend to quadruple the amount.
A notable forger of the late 20th century was Shaun Greenhalgh, who created several works of art in a variety of styles and, after carefully constructing a credible provenance for each, sold them over the course of roughly two decades with the help of his parents, George and Olive Greenhalgh. One of his notable forgeries was a stoneware sculpture, The Faun, thought to be a rare unglazed ceramic sculpture by Paul Gauguin, another was the Amarna Princess believed to date from 1350 bc.
Occasionally a forger appears with a certain specious glamour like Constantine Simonides (1824–67), a Greek adventurer who varied his trade in perfectly genuine manuscripts with the sale of strange concoctions of his own. Maj. George de Luna Byron, alias de Gibler, who claimed to be a natural son of Byron by a Spanish countess, successfully produced and disposed of large quantities of forgeries ascribed to his alleged father and to Shelley, John Keats, and others. More commonplace is the forgery encountered in the case of the Edinburgh forger A.H. (“Antique”) Smith, who was responsible for forgeries of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Mary Stuart, and other persons from Scottish literature and history—a feat that ultimately earned him 12 months’ imprisonment.
Nearly 40 paintings, supposedly created by some of the most important artists of the 20th century, were all fakes, painted by a struggling artist in his garage in Queens. The fraud might still be going on if it weren't for an art historian Jack Flam -- who was the first person to uncover the scheme and blow the whistle to the government, putting the brakes on an $80 million con -- the most audacious and lucrative art fraud in U.S. history.
Regardless of whether this provision ultimately is enacted, the underlying issue will persist.  This post discusses some of the general concerns that the art and antiquities world can be misused as a conduit for dirty money.  We then discuss the AML Standards for Art Market Operators proposed by the Basel Institute on Governance, and similar standards set forth by the Responsible Art Market, both of which attempt to set forth a framework for those in the business of trading art to mitigate their money laundering risks.
Once purchased, the art can disappear from view for years, even decades. A lot of the art bought at auctions goes to freeports – ultra-secure warehouses for the collections of millionaires and billionaires, ranging from Picassos and gold to vintage Ferraris and fine wine. The freeports, which exist in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore, offer a variety of tax advantages because the goods stored in them are technically in transit. The Economist magazine reported that the freeport near the Geneva airport alone is thought to hold $100 billion (U.S.) of art.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the mania for classification and study of the past resulted in an upsurge in forgeries as the art market adjusted to accommodate the new interest in the artistic past. That interest in the classification of the past also led to the founding of academic disciplines such as the history of art. The study of art history and the creation of agreed-upon bodies of work for artists and eras, as well as advances in science, made possible in the 20th century the winnowing out of forgeries, fakes, and misattributions from authentic works. As art historians gained more knowledge about the past and the styles, materials, and working conditions of artists and historical epochs, inauthentic and fraudulent works were more readily exposed.
×