|Elmyr de Hory|
David Stein was a lesser evil. He was the best painter of Marc Chagall's since Marc Chagall. Even during the artists lifetime, Stein skillfully and daringly reaped the benefits of his talent. To be successful in faking the work of living or dead artists, the faker had to be as good at forging art as forging the almighty paperwork that gives that art its monetary value. Stein was undone by the fact that he offered his work at prices that were too low. Bargain Chagall's have never existed outside the realm of forgeries. Alarms went off in the heads of dealers offered his works. At first, they were often thought to have been stolen. When the police came to question Stein, he literally escaped out the back window of his New York apartment, down the fire escape, and hopped a plane to Paris where he finally ended up spending a few years in jail for his efforts.
|Van Meergeren demonstrating the|
forgery of Jesus Among the Doctors, 1947,
aledgedly by Jan Vermeer
Just as the Second World War was dawning in Europe, a previously unknown religious painting by Vermeer was offered for sale. The problem was, Vermeer had never painted religious subjects. Still, the painting looked like a Vermeer, and if it was authentic, it would be extremely valuable because it was a previously unknown subject matter relevant to Vermeer. Suggestions were floated that it had been lost for centuries or even hidden away by the artist himself. As the German's occupied Holland, several more previously unknown Vermeers emerged. A Dutch man by the name of Van Meegeren was arrested for selling national treasures to Nazis such as Hermann Goering and others. In a strangely ironic twist, Van Meegeren contended in his own defense that he was not guilty because the paintings were his own work, and that he'd merely signed the name "Vermeer. " The jury didn't buy it and he went to jail. He apparently was too good for his own good. It was only when, from his jail cell, he demonstrated his skill at faking Vermeers (complete with artificially aged canvas and deliberately induced paint cracks) that he was released. Today, his works are collectors' items because they are such good fakes.