Showing posts with label Fakers and Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fakers and Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story. Show all posts

April 3, 2017

Art Theft Alert: What the Guardian later called a “garden variety ram-raid”


What the Guardian later called a “garden variety ram-raid” happened around 4.00 am on the morning of Saturday, 1 April 2016. In a tree-lined upmarket street close to the city centre in Auckland, New Zealand, a vehicle, later recovered by police at the scene, smashed the plate-glass front window of the International Art Centre in Parnell.  A sign written on the window had proclaimed that an “Important and Rare Art” auction was to take place a few days later.  A second vehicle was reportedly seen leaving the scene shortly afterwards.

Displayed in the gallery’s window, and taken during the raid, were the intended centrepieces of that auction: two companion portraits, painted by Bohemian-born and Viennese-educated émigré artist Gottfried Lindauer in New Zealand in the late nineteenth century, entitled Chieftainess Ngati-Raure and Chief Ngati-Raure.

The auction house selling the works had valued them in the run-up to the auction at around NZ $350,000 - $450,000 each. Local art world figures expressed dismay at the thefts, characterising Lindauer’s works as “mesmerising and … a significant and critically important record of Maori culture.” Immediate and extensive publicity both in New Zealand and elsewhere would seem to ensure that a legitimate mainstream sale or disposal of the artworks appears unlikely.  



Within 24 hours media reports tentatively drew a possible link with earlier and speculative internet chatter expressing anger that the portraits of two ancestors were being offered for sale rather than returned to the descendents of the sitters, but in the hours and days after the raid, little is known for certain and the works remain missing. 

Any information can be relayed to New Zealand Police in Auckland Police on:
00 64 9 302 6832 

or anonymously to the New Zealand Crimestoppers tip-line: 
0800 555 111

By Judge Arthur Tompkins

February 5, 2017

New Zealand Art Crime Research Trust writer's book reviewed in the Guardian.

By Judge Arthur Tompkins

In October last year, art-historian, curator, art-crime writer and founding trustee of the New Zealand Art Crime Research Trust published her ground-breaking Art Thieves, Fakers and Fraudsters: the New Zealand Story (Awa Press, Wellington NZ; 2016). A fascinating and fine read, the book has just been reviewed in the UK's the Guardian.  

As the reviewer notes:

From stolen Italian masterpieces ending up on the walls of a provincial South Island gallery, to a steady supply of fake Dick Frizzells being sold online, New Zealand’s history has been rife with art crime.

And the shady world of fakes, forgeries and fraudsters in the South Pacific island nation has for the first time been subjected to a comprehensive book, by art historian and independent curator Penelope Jackson.

The ARCA Blog featured the book at the time of publication here.

Art Thieves is available in good bookshops around New Zealand - and also at the publisher's website here.

September 26, 2016

The Statement No Curator Wants to Hear: "It's a very good copy but it's a fake"

Portrait of Tainui Chief, Kewene Te Haho purportedly by Gottfried Lindauer,
originally purchased by Trust Waikato for $121,000 for the Trust Waikato Art and Taonga Collection, Waikato Museum te Whare Taonga o Waikato. The portrait was judged a fake in 2012.
Displaying a fake painting in an art exhibition isn't usually something advantageous for a museum but for the Waikato Museum curating a "genuine fake" juxtaposed alongside the genuine article from their own museum collection serves to highlight an important point.  Fakes and forgeries are not easily detected and sometimes authenticity is coloured not just by what the viewer wants to believe but by the amount of money spent on an artwork, its prestigious location, or simply a desire of the part of a collector to own a work of art by a renowned artist.  

Curator and art historian Penelope Jackson compares
a copy of Floral Still Life, by Adele Younghusband with the original at Waikato Museum. 

Casual estimates by museum professionals estimate that upwards of 20 percent of the artworks held in major museums around the world will no longer be attributed to the same artists one hundred years from now.  While a chunk of that percentage will change due to advances in scientific evidence and art historical research, an embarrassing number of them will be relegated to storerooms as forgeries committed by tricksters.

To keep forgery and other art crimes in the public's eye New Zealand's Waikato Museum in Hamilton will be hosting An Empty Frame: Crimes of Art in New Zealand from now through January 8, 2017.    The exhibition, guest curated by art historian Penelope Jackson, features 30 New Zealand artworks that each, at some stage, have been the "victims" of an art crime; each accompanied by its own "behind the crimes" story.

Walking through the exhibition one gets a full on view of the psyche and motives of the art criminals who have tried their hand at artistic skulduggery in New Zealand. Some crimes appear to have been simply opportunistic while others were far more calculating.  

The exhibition also reminds us of the value of authenticity and how New Zealander's affection for Māori culture has been exploited by forgers who seem to have caught on that painting up "unknown" artworks in the style of Gottfried Lindauer, one of the best-known painters of Māori portraits, could fetch a pretty penny at auction. One painting, a portrait of Tainui Chief, Kewene Te Haho by a still unknown artist, remains part of the Trust Waikato Art and Taonga Collection held at Waikato Museum and is on display as part of the exhibition.

From forgery and fraud to theft and vandalism An Empty Frame offers patrons a first hand view of some of New Zealand's most intriguing art crime cases. With an emphasis on the ways in which art crimes harm *everybody* — not just by cheating rich buyers, museums and their agents, not just by ruining a few reputations, nor even by distorting whole markets, the exhibition deftly illustrates how crimes against art hurt everyone.  

At times the victims are individuals... at times the victims are galleries... at times the victims are cities and states... and at times the victims are entire countries.

1 Grantham Street
Hamilton, New Zealand

Exhibition Dates: 24 September 2016 - 8 January 2017
10 am – 5 pm, excluding Christmas Day

Entry Fee: None

This exhibition is accompanied by a book, Art Thieves, Fakers and Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story (Awa Press). On Saturday 1 October, Penelope Jackson will give a free public talk on art crime and forgery at 10:30 am.

Please visit waikatomuseum.co.nz for further information.