Bloomberg‘s John Varoli covers the revelation that a substantial number of works of Russian art are, in fact, counterfeit. The “Odalisque,” above, was sold at Christie’s as a Kustodiev painting and made nearly $3 million with premium when it was sold in 2005. Christie’s honors a five-year authenticity guarantee on the works it sells and is conducting its own investigation but the work has been included in a 900-work compilation of Russian fakes.
For the past 18 months, Russia’s art market has faced its worst crisis of confidence in the post-Soviet era as five volumes of “The Catalog of Fraudulent Art Works” were published, said dealers. Some experts say that fakes now comprise the majority of artworks they are asked to evaluate.
“Every month I’m asked to look at 10 paintings and nine are fakes,” said London-based Russian art dealer James Butterwick. “Many Russian collectors buy without asking competent experts. If a work is credible then it has a provenance that can be easily checked out.”[ . . . ]
The frauds in these volumes were compiled by Vladimir Petrov, who admitted in 2005 to having inadvertently authenticated 20 fraudulent paintings. He called on his colleagues to admit their mistakes.
Such errors are possible because many Russian realist painters followed European trends, said Roschin. They used the same techniques, subject matter, and sometimes had the same teachers.
The Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers, a Moscow- based association, says the catalog and its sponsors are “destabilizing the market” and “destroying consumer confidence.”