The Playing of O An Quan, below, hangs in the Vietnamese National Museum of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, museums in Singapore and Japan also believe they have the original painting. That’s because of a well-intentioned plan to preserve Vietnamese art during the war, the BBC News has the story:
It is well known among Vietnamese artists that the museum has been hanging works of art that are in fact copies of very famous Vietnamese paintings as some of the originals were either sold or lost. The leading art historian and Vietnamese painting expert, Nora Taylor, from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, believes that about half of the paintings displayed at the museum are in fact copies.
According to Nguyen Do Bao, the former chairman of the Hanoi Fine Arts Association, the practice began with the best of intentions. “The practice started during the war (between North and South Vietnam) in the 1960s. Copies were displayed at the museum while the originals were taken away to avoid being damaged during bombing raids,” he explained. At the time it seemed a great idea, but the problem was that nobody seemed to be in control. Not all of the original paintings were returned to the museum after the war.
Forged Art Legacy of Vietnam War (BBC News)