The Con and the Thief

Thought I would share something that took me about five minutes, before I get all semi serious


It has been quite a week for art news, so I thought I would share the two stories that have caught my eye.

A gentleman by the name of Mark Landis had been donating art to galleries across the U.S. for decades. He appeared to the galleries as a wealthy collector, but the art that he donated was fake.

Wow. Imagine that you have a hip gallery and you have a piece of Paul Signac work hanging proudly, except it was not what you thought it was. It was a fake that you either hadn't spotted or possibly had spotted, but by the time it was on the wall, you as the gallery owner are too far down the line to not lose credibility as a gallery because you didn't spot it as a fake.

Allegedly this was the case with some of Landis's work. Galleries had placed the art in a prime location, but had they have then taken it down to tell the world it was a fake, the reputational damage would have been huge.

The FBI became involved and I imagine that this could have been something straight out of the TV series White Collar. But that's where it gets really interesting, they couldn't bring a prosecution because Landis had donated the art and never took any money in return.

Now I am wondering if Landis's work will gain some popularity in its own right. The craziest thing about the story was that Landis himself admitted that he never spent longer than the length of a TV film to create each piece. If it did take longer, he would abandon it.

There were none of the usual techniques used that are associated to art forgery. He used paint from Walmart, and gave it a distressed look with coffee. No fancy chemicals here, and clearly for those galleries that did not know the art was fake, I'm assuming that Landis's background story helped to get the work through any authentication process without the gallery going to their usual levels of detail to establish if the art was the real deal.

So I think that now this is all out in the open, Landis may create the odd piece as himself and once again it will be hung in the very same galleries that have displayed his work unknowingly for decades.

How was he caught? He donated the exact same artwork to multiple galleries!

The other story that caught my eye this week was that of the FabergĂ© Egg thief Richard Tobin, who is now facing several years in prison after swiping nearly £800,000 worth of the jewel encrusted Russian eggs from Chrisitie's in London.

The heist took place in December 2014 and he is set to receive his sentence on April 8th. Just three days after the Easter Bunny would have brought him a chocolate egg.

Have you heard any other interesting art news stories this week? If so, please feel free to share in the comments. I will feature the best ones here and on my social media channels.



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