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The art forgery dates back over two thousand years. Roman sculptors, for example, manufactured many copies of Greek sculptures; clarify that buyers at the time were well aware that identity copies. Artist acquired at that time mattered little, artists were considered just craftsmen, so we are talking about middle class, lower middle manufacturers, in the eyes of the rulers (high society) of that time. Now the copy that is not a crime and we name facsimile the copy displayed in museums as purely didactic reference .

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Facsimile of Alexander sarcophagus was painted as original

During the Renaissance painters possessed pupils in their workshops studying painting techniques by copying the works and style of his teacher. As payment for their training to teacher trainees were allowed to sell their paintings. Some copies were so good that in many cases the specialists they have been attributed directly to the teacher. But what interests us here has nothing to do with the teachings of the “tricks” of a consolidated master students, but of the tricks to place in the art market fakes so good that even specialists are able to detect – in sometimes certificates of authenticity (false ) despistaban them – . Either carbon-14 test gave the target in some cases.

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Large international auction houses have been victims of forgery

A film, ” Incognito ” ( 1997 ) specifically – http://www.filmaffinity.com/es/film719043.html – very didactically explains how it is possible to deceive the leading specialists and ” forensic art” in painting, and on analysis techniques such as the aforementioned carbon and x-rays Christies auctioned specifically a work of Cézanne as true, for instance , the auction firm has had to return many million sold fake works especially Russian tycoons (?) , And there have been many more cases that have determined that the copy was almost undetectable , leaving some “experts” to the bitumen . Of all the falsifiers of history ( there are many) two specifically to us, we have always struck by his absolute mastery, mastery of painting technique and drawing : Han van Meegeren and Elmyr de Hory . The latter was ever heard him say: “I’m the artist with the highest number of work exhibited in major museums worldwide .” A huge histrionic that has irked many dealers, collectors and collections of art museums.

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Elmyr de Hory in one of his eccentric exhibitions

Hory Meegeren and were masters in the field of drawing and painting technique . Both failed miserably with his own work and believed that both became counterfeiters out of spite ; felt utter contempt for art criticism with which they played throughout their lives. So too, came to the early conclusion of another person’s work to paint , make counterfeits , it was much more profitable. Meegeren (1889-1977) , ” the painter who fooled the Nazis “, became a specialist in copying the works of the great masters of painting of the Dutch Golden Age ( Vermeer , Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch , Gerard ter Borch and many more ) , but also painted work of other great artists such as were Caravaggio or Rembrandt himself . Meegeren was obsessed with the idea of ​​getting the ” perfect forgery ” and was very vain . He ended his days working exclusively on the reproduction of the work of Vermeer , which was absolutely obsessed and came to dominate his absolute technical mastery. Personal goal was proposed to define in detail the technical and chemical processes to create their perfect fakes . Meegeren bought authentic seventeenth-century canvases to paint on them. His paintings mixed with raw materials (such as lapis lazuli, white lead , indigo, and cinnabar ) purchased in ancient workshops in Italy , using old formulas to ensure their “authenticity.” Also used exclusively badger hair brushes that it manufactured , similar to those known to be used Vermeer , and certain chemicals for his paintings seem to be 300 years old. After finishing a paint, baked between 100 and 120 ° C to harden and then rolled into a cylinder to increase the cracks. Finally wash the Chinese ink paintings to fill the imperfections . The confidence he had in his own mastery was to put  their Veermers “under the scrutiny of experts dictating finally after scathing, tests were authentic. Had up to 25 million euros in 1943, living with his wife in an exclusive neighborhood of Amsterdam. As an anecdote about his ability “producer” commented that owned 52 houses in the city , some very luxurious in the channels and 15 cottages. All a genius and figure.

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Meegeren in his studio in Amsterdam

Meegeren , through its broker dealer and he sold Nazi Marshal Hermann Göring, one of its production Vermeer ( ” Christ and the adulteress ” ) for 5 million euros. The Allies after the war found the hidden box in a salt mine Austrian and tracked him until they learned it was a fake Meegeren . He was arrested by the allied forces on charges of harboring Nazis. From that day all were calamities which finally Meegeren was tried blaming him for forgery and fraud , and sued the defendant was two years in prison for his crimes. He was released in January 1946. Currently the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam showcases two of his works. He died of a heart attack in 1977.

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Meegeren ‘s trial

Elmyr de Hory (1906-1976) , to which he gave a presentation at Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid this year – http://www.espaciomadrid.es/?p=17777 – was a genius and Hungarian aristocrat , personality and character totally different from Meegeren, but also a master of painting technique . He had not so much as a forger but as an imitator of styles. He used to make counterfeits excluding forged signature of the author in the table , with his dealer who did the dirty work. He began his career selling fake Picasso drawings, made ​​by him, between his rich friends. It became a millionaire living many years in full swing at his mansion in Ibiza. Orson Wells , nothing more and nothing less, he made ​​a very interesting documentary entitled “Fake” – http://www.filmaffinity.com/es/film177171.html – .

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Orson Welles and Elmyr de Hory in Ibiza , 1972

It was not all plain sailing for Elmyr . Manipulated by weakness was left , being Legros and Lessard partners for many years that were made with the marketing of their “work” . Both the timaban giving unscrupulous few dollars for pulling out and he was forced by the two unscrupulous to work harder if I wanted to charge more. Finally Elmyr exploded causing a huge debate that echoed the art dealers Legros and Lessard clients, eventually uncovering what these galleries were gaining world renown, was infringing work. Discovered counterfeiting, the “Vagrancy Court” opened an investigation, and was sentenced to two months in prison for homosexuality Ibiza , living with criminals and ” lack of demonstrable means of subsistence.” This confinement, though brief and the news that would be expatriated, I fell into a deep depression that led to his suicide in December 1976 at his home in Ibiza .

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Elmyr de Hory at his home in Ibiza

If you are interested in learning more about this character plus see the documentary mentioned above we recommend that you read the book “Fake”. About Meegeren fewer references. There is a website – http://www.meegeren.net/ – and fairly comprehensive article in El Pais Emeroteca 2010 – http://elpais.com/diario/2010/05/22/babelia/1274487161_850215.html – .

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Allies recovering the Meegeren’s copy titled ” Christ and the adulteress ” in Austrian salt mine

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