World’s Most Expensive Art Fakes: From A $2 Million Picasso Knockoff To The Saudi Royal Family’s $450 Million Da Vinci Fake

Art forgery is as old as art itself, dating back more than two thousand years. Some of the world’s greatest artists like Da Vinci and Picasso have created coveted artworks that the ultra-wealthy will pay millions to have in their collections. Art forgery is a lucrative business, and someone clever enough to pull it off can walk away with millions.

Some forgeries are innocent enough, usually created by students copying a master. Some get created with the sole purpose of tricking someone into thinking they were the real deal. While art forgery can be profitable, modern techniques have made their identification much easier to catch.

Here are 3 of the most expensive art fakes.

Christ And The Disciples At Emmaus, Attributed To Vermeer

In the 1940s a Dutch artist named Han Van Meergeren duped the art world in what was probably the biggest art scandal of the twentieth century. Van Meergeren was a skilled painter in his own right, but his original paintings left critics uninspired. According to Austin Art Market the unsuccessful artist schemed up an ingenious plan to demonstrate his skills.

He decided to prove his talent by forging paintings by popular 17th-century Dutch artists. The best art critics and experts of the time accepted the paintings as genuine and sometimes exquisite. His most successful forgery was Supper at Emmaus, which even experts believed to be a real Vermeer.

He sold his knock-off Vermeer to Nazi military leader Hermann Goering. This resulted in the arrest of Van Meegeren, as officials believed that he had sold Dutch cultural property to the Nazis. To avoid the hefty sentence he admitted it was a forgery. Van Meergeren still managed to dupe his buyers out of more than $30 million before his deception came to light.

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The Picasso Bait And Switch

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An art dealer named Tatiana Khan from Los Angeles appears to have pulled a fast one on an unsuspecting buyer, according to Art Market Monitor.

The painting belonged to the wealthy Forbes family, Khan claimed. Known as ‘La Femme Au Chapeau Bleu’, it was swiftly purchased by an art collector who believed the Picasso pastel was worth $5 million.

It came to light a few years later that the painting was a fake. The owner sued Khan for executing a scheme to defraud him and hiring an artist to fabricate the 1901 Picasso drawing.

Khan allegedly told artist Maria Apelo Cruz that a thief took the real Picasso from one of her clients. She claimed to have a plan and needed a copy to play a trick that would help catch the perpetrator.

Khan gave Cruz a photograph of the artwork to copy and paid her $1,000, the complaint alleged. Soon after, Khan reportedly sold the drawing for $2 million to the art prospector.

The King’s Fake Treasure

In 2017 at an art auction in New York a group of billionaires bid up a 500-year-old painting by Leonard Da Vinci called Salvator Mundi. The winning bid was around $450 million, making it the most expensive painting in the world.

The New York Times later revealed that the buyer was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The rarity of the painting afforded it such a steep price. Fewer than 20 paintings by the Italian renaissance artist exist. None are privately owned, and each belongs to a museum.

But the high-priced painting of Christ is now facing a little problem, it might not be real.

Famed Spanish art museum Prado has downgraded the painting saying it was only ‘attributed to, authorized by, or supervised by Da Vinci’. These claims were later repeated by curators at the Louvre in Paris. The Louvre has privately decided to label the painting as “from the workshop” of Da Vinci. The museum concluded it was the work of a pupil, and the master himself only contributing a few strokes.

The revelation is likely to have a significant impact on the price of the painting that was initially bought in 2005 for just $1,175 by a New York art dealer.

Experts suggest it would fetch about $1.5 million if auctioned again. The revelation is a massive blunder to the Saudi Crown Prince. painting is reportedly hidden away in a storage facility in Switzerland.

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Sources: Sun, Business Insider, Art Market Moniker, Mirror

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