A film was made about the biggest counterfeiting case in American history. The Netflix documentary Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art, released by Barry Avrich, premiered this week and the story is based on a certain scam scam that has plagued art collectors and historians of art for almost twenty years: the Knoedler affair.
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How seriously can you take the protagonists of a scandal where an art dealer who makes fake images of unsuspecting customers still works with works of art, a world-famous painter copying his retirement in China and the woman who accompanies the images to the director himself? ) laughing trying to sell “Bob Dylan’s accordion”?
Well, roughly not, but somehow the story looks like this. $ 80 million affair and stupid-looking stakeholders: how wonderful is art?
One of the galleries in New York, if not the most prestigious, Knoedler & Co. closed its doors in November 2011, after 165 magical years for business reasons, for the biggest public shock. Yes, but behind closed doors there was no lack of money, but excessive wealth, too stinky. It so happened that between 1994 and 2011, dozens of fakes by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell became new property. (To avoid misunderstandings: the non-existent paintings of Pollock, Rothko and Motherwell were forged, but the paintings were simply painted in the style of the artists mentioned).
Ann Freedman, the gallery’s former director – one of the key figures in the scandal – “did not know she was selling fake images, she was convinced that the paintings signed by the expressionist geniuses were real copies.” Even with Pollock’s name written on one of the pictures.
However, the art dealer was never convicted: on the day Freedman testified, before the woman could speak, a verdict was handed down for a number of nameless damages.
No one wants to be ridiculous. It’s so embarrassing. Even worse, no one wants to admit to being deceived
States Freeman, the main scammer and scammer at the same time.
According to film experts, Freeman was already wrong when he bought paintings from an unknown person, in fact, not only the owner but also the origin of many works was unknown. The woman who carried the images to the gallery was Glafira Rosales. The fraudster pleaded guilty in 2013 and said he sold about sixty forged paintings to two galleries in New York. He was three months behind bars and then in 2017 was ordered to pay $ 81 million in damages.
Rosales’ partner was Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz, a Spanish art dealer who had previously been charged with fraud. However, according to Diaz, it was Rosales who participated in the sale, the man “only” helping him find the Chinese Pej-Sen Jian who painted the fake images. Rosales, who has been convicted of tax fraud, among other things, said Diaz forced him to carry out his plan.
Although the man was also suspected of money laundering, he returned to Spain and the authorities there did not extradite him to the Americans: Diaz could not be brought to justice in the United States.
Pej-Sen Xian, who makes fake paintings, has captured the whole world with his talent, more precisely his lack. The man, who had a reputation as a great painter in China, was not recognized by the American public, so he was “forced” to copy paintings by other painters to create them in his name. The painter, who specialized in copy, imitated the great artists so perfectly that innumerable experts convinced them whether they were true paintings by Pollock or Rothko.
It is a serious feat that the director managed to interview the art dealer who made the scapegoat, who spoke in disguise of what happened. In addition, deceived art collectors, critics, experts, journalists and family members will speak on the subject.
Ten lawsuits were filed in the Knoedler case, but only one reached the verdict. The tenth and final lawsuit ended with a verdict in July 2019, the subject of a fake painting by Mark Rothko sold for $ 5.5 million.