Art museum employee stole paintings and swapped in forgeries

Originally published at: Art museum employee stole paintings and swapped in forgeries | Boing Boing


Don’t auction houses do a background check on paintings before selling them?


This fine (64K) seems way too light to me. A hustler who can convince eager auction houses not to check provenance can certainly feign repentance. I’d like to see him & the auction houses heavily fined.


The best (or simplest) forge the provenance.

The museum must have considered a background check when one of their employees rolled up in a Roller.


Reminds me of the scene from Superman III when Richard Pryor’s character immediately outs himself as the hacker who has been skimming his employer’s financial accounts when he pulls into the parking lot behind the wheel of a brand new Ferrari.


Not all. Depends a lot on the work/artist, reported value, venue, etc.

I’ve been in the shallow end of the Fine Art pool due to a side job at work and it’s absolutely an insane thing. There’s a Wendover video that touches on some aspects, but the whole thing is best described as a rich person’s sport.


A 64k fine? I think I’m just going to have to quote Hanover Fiste here, “Hanging’s too good for him. Burning’s too good for him! He should be torn into little bitsy pieces and buried alive!”

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But he showed “genuine remorse” you see. I don’t know who the judge is, but if I were a con artist, that judge would have just moved up to the top of my list of marks.

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If he “paid off debts and bought a Rolls-Royce”, he must have taken in mare than that. And this’s probably still less than the true value of the paintings. He got off very lightly.

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What happens to the stolen paintings in a case like this? I presume the museum would get the original back from the buyer. Is the buyer reimbursed their purchase price? Or must they sue for it? What if the buyer refuses to return the painting (e.g. an oligarch who bought it to launder money and has already hidden it away)?

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According to the reports it is similar (depending on exchange rates) to what he made from the sale of three paintings.

Of course the auction houses took their cut.

Franz von Stucks is saddled by being admired by Hitler, which is probably a reason his work was in storage rather than on display.


Yes, I’ve had that job. The background check would include checking the catalogue of museums with that artist in their collections. Not because you suspect it’s stolen but because finding a close match to the motif you are trying to sell in a reputable institution would boost the price estimate. So the auction house in question is basically a bit shit.


:laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Horses are certainly an expensive hobby! :wink:

seems someone has been reading/ watching the Arèsene Lupin series!

I imagine that the background check should also include searching the Art Loss Register.

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