Henri Matisse’s “Odalisque in Pants” hung proudly at Sofia Imber Cotemporary Art Museum of Caracas, Venezuela for three years…before anyone realized it was a fake, duping curators, museums staffers and tourists alike. The discovery occurred in 2002, the thieves were caught in 2013 and the painting was returned on Monday.
Forged paintings saturate the market; experts cite that as much as half the art in the international arena could be counterfeit. So how can you tell the real deal from the wannabe? It’s an enigma encompassing the art realm and it inspired our Murder at the Art Museum Scavenger Hunts.
Our most popular hunt is a murderous tale of lust, greed, wrath, envy and pride centered around the acquisition of a rare Leonardo da Vinci painting. The game is available for private groups during museum hours, and to the general public on select weekends, in seven cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
To get you in the spirit of the Murder at the Art Museum, we’ve put together a list of recent art forgery cases cracked by the international and national art crime teams.
Vermeer’s or Veneers?
Han van Meegeran identifies himself as an artist. He started replicating the artistic stylings of Johannes Vermeer and sold them to buyers who believed them to be genuine…one of his clients: the Dutch Government. He acquired $60 million before the jig was up.
John Myatt painted beautiful landscapes and portraits…that happen to replicate works done by Matisse, Giacometti, Braque, Picasso, Le Corbusier, Monet, and Renoir. His forgeries fooled the expert eyes of esteemed auction houses, Philips, Sotheby’s and Christie’s where he sold 200 pieces of illegitimate art. Myatt would eventually star on a TV series titled Mastering the Art, sharing his secrets on copying other people’s artwork.
Famed funnyman Steve Martin is the latest victim of Germany’s largest art forgery ring when he purchased a presumed Heinrich Campendonk painting. Thus far, the gang has cheated $49 million from avid art buyers. The police are still trying to crack the case.
Get your hands down and dirty, and see if you can solve an international art mystery on our fun and exciting Murder at the Art Museum Scavenger Hunt. Watson Adventures today, German Art Forgery Ring tomorrow!