Wolfgang Beltracchi gets the 60 Minutes treatment this weekend. Beltracchi has only admitted to 60 forgeries out of a supposed 300 works he made. The whole scheme generated $46m in fakes but the real damage is to the reputation of the art market. Serious collectors like Steve Martin were taken in but so were the experts, dealers and auction houses:
His fakes wound up in catalogs, in museums and on the walls of the rich; he eventually wound up in jail. But he might still be running his scam today if not for a certain pigment not available when some of these works would have been painted. The white pigment was not listed on a label of a paint tube Beltracchi used and so, his jig was up. “Yes, I use the wrong titanium white,” jokes Beltracchi, when asked if he thinks he did anything wrong.
Jamie Martin, a top forensic art analyst, says of Beltracchi: “His fakes are among the best fakes I’ve seen in my career. Very convincing. Very well done.” Martin says if forensic experts had examined the works more closely, perhaps he would have been unmasked earlier.
Best art forger in history? (60 Minutes)