The market for Vietnamese paintings has been a hot sub-set of the South East Asian art market for some time with big sales in Hong Kong at major auction houses.
The market for Vietnamese artists has always been a bit of a caveat emptor affair but The New York Times has a wild story of a an exhibition of paintings held at The Fine Arts Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, which was paid for by the owner of 17 works of art.
During the exhibition, an artist discovered a work of his own being shown as the work of a more famous and deceased artist. He complained and the row has unravelled some more details.
Here’s the Times’s account:
The 17 paintings in the exhibition belonged to Vu Xuan Chung, a Vietnamese art dealer who said he paid the museum about $1,300 to hold the 12-day event last year. […]
After questions surfaced about the paintings, the museum quickly determined that none of the 17 paintings were created by the painters claimed by the exhibition. Museum officials apologized to the public and said they would hold the paintings for an investigation. But that never happened. Soon after, the museum quietly returned the paintings to their owner, Mr. Chung, who disputes the museum’s findings and says the paintings are authentic. He is now offering them for sale and recently sold one for more than $66,000.
All 17 paintings had been certified as genuine by a French art expert, Jean-François Hubert, a senior consultant for Vietnamese art at Christie’s. One painting still had a Christie’s tag dangling from it. Mr. Hubert appears to have had a conflict of interest. The 17 paintings had belonged to him, and he had sold them to Mr. Chung, his friend of more than 20 years, Mr. Chung said.
Vietnamese Art Has Never Been More Popular. But the Market Is Full of Fakes. (The New York Times)