March 31, 2015

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A FAKE MASTERPIECE:

America's most generous con artist (Jason Caffrey, 3/31/15, BBC)

As a teenager Landis had suffered a nervous breakdown following the death of his father, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Art therapy revealed his talent for copying, and he was able to turn out fakes at astonishing speed.

"I know everybody's heard about forgers that do all these complicated things with chemicals and what-have-you," he says. "I don't have that kind of patience. I buy my supplies at Walmart or Woolworth - discount stores - and then I do it in an hour or two at most.

"If I can't get something done by the time a movie's over on TV, I'll give up on it."

Posing as a wealthy benefactor, Landis donated counterfeits to dozens of respected institutions across the US until, in 2008, he walked into the Oklahoma City Museum. Matt Leininger was the museum's registrar, tasked with looking after new works.

"We just thought Landis was a really eccentric art collector," Leininger says. "The first piece he gave us, he actually hand-delivered - a watercolour by Louis Valtat.

"We framed the Valtat and put it on display next to a Renoir in our gallery, not knowing what we had just hung was a fake."

Landis continued sending forgeries to museums, and might never have been rumbled had he not offered copies of the same works to different galleries.

Posted by at March 31, 2015 4:58 PM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« MORE FRUITS OF THE DEAL: | Main | WHEN THE QUOTA HIRE SPEAKS HATE: »