There’s been a lot of response to The Art Newspaper’s story about a German collector who is refusing to pay for a de Chirico he bought at Sotheby’s which happens to be both included in the catalogue raissoné and on a list of works that a notes forger of de Chirico, Renato Peretti, made before he died. The list is of forged works that are included in the catalogue.
The list presents a problem for anyone using the catalogue because it is not clear that Peretti’s “confession” is truly an act of contrition or an act of maliciousness. Cristina Ruiz points out that, “All three auction houses declined to say whether they consult Peretti’s 1978 list of fakes in the catalogue raisonné when accepting works by De Chirico for their auctions; all three said they had relied on the catalogue raisonné to authenticate the paintings in question.”
Obviously, if the catalogue is not reliable, the auction houses are in a fix and the de Chirico Foundation doesn’t seem to be helping matters:
Paolo Picozza, the president of the De Chirico Foundation, says that the painting sold at Sotheby’s is authentic (see above) and describes Peretti as a “mythomaniac” who claimed to have painted works that were in fact original canvases by De Chirico. Nevertheless, Picozza acknowledges that “there may be forgeries by Peretti and others in the catalogue raisonné”. He says, however, that “these need to be examined case by case and not [considered fake] just because Peretti said they were”. He also says that, as a general rule, the foundation does not provide opinions on the authenticity of paintings that are published in De Chirico’s catalogue raisonné, and that there are currently no plans to examine further the works in the catalogue that Peretti claimed to have made himself.
Any such investigation would be lengthy and expensive, and it is unclear how the foundation could fund this research; the organisation is currently working on a further four volumes of the artist’s catalogue raisonné (to add to the eight volumes that have already been published). The first of these should be completed this year.
De Chirico catalogue under scrutiny (The Art Newspaper)