Posted by: JLD | August 25, 2013

A remarkable current news story that is similar to some aspects of “Search for the Garden”

The art world is aghast at another major forgery case allegedly carried out in a middle class neighborhood house located in Queens, New York.

The story really started in the mid 1990s but problems with several 20th-century Abstract Expressionist paintings were first detected around 2004.  One painting purportedly by Jackson Pollack was bought in 2007 from New York City’s Knoedler Gallery and its president, Ann Freedman, by hedge-fund manager Pierre Lagrange for more than $17 million.  

James Martin, of Orion Analytical, examined the paint and found ingredients that are “inconsistent and irreconcilable” with the painting being painted by Pollack.  Martin discovered that pigments found in the paint were not available until 1970, many years after Pollack died in a car accident in 1956.  Lagrange sent Knoedler Gallery an email on November 29, 2011 demanding his money back.  The gallery closed the next day.  (See Vanity Fair and Art News links below).  Now the full story of the massive forgery caper is starting to emerge.  (See recent New York Times articles below). Ann Freedman had been buying what she thought were authentic paintings through a gallery dealer named Glafira Rosales.  Although Ms. Rosales supposedly had a secret source that had inherited the art from a recently deceased parent who was an art collector, apparently a local forger produced the paintings.  The alleged forger who created paintings modeled after popular Modern artists was found to be working in Woodhaven, Queens, NY.  Mr. Pei-Shen Qian is a 73-year old Chinese immigrant who moved to the US more than thirty years ago.  He had difficulty selling his own artwork and therefore he copied art works by well-known artists that were sold through the years for a total of 80 million dollars.  The paintings he allegedly copied were purportedly by artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko as well as others.  Glafira Rosales sold the copies allegedly painted by Mr. Qian to Knoedler & Company, one of New York City’s oldest galleries.  Rosales discovered Mr. Qian selling his own art on the streets of New York. Works he may have painted were sold to galleries starting in the mid 1990s.  The FBI were brought in to investigate as late as 2009.  Apparently, customers relied upon the reputation of the Knoedler gallery and documentation from art experts. Mr. Qian and his wife, Qiu Yue Xu, returned to China a few months ago.  This story demonstrates that astute, extremely rich business people can be swindled into purchasing fake artworks costing millions of dollars.  As this story is still being developed we need to wait to learn all the details.

Sources:

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/05/knoedler-gallery-forgery-scandal-investigation

http://www.artnews.com/2012/06/07/following-suits/

Prosecutors Are Contemplating More Arrests in $80 Million Art Fraud Case, By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM; Published: August 19, 2013 New York Times

Struggling Immigrant Artist Tied to $80 Million New York Fraud, By SARAH MASLIN NIR, PATRICIA COHEN and WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM; Published: August 16, 2013 New York Times


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