Real Men Don’t Buy Campendonk: Steven Martin Named As Victim in Massive Forgery Scheme

I pledge not to use The Jerk in the following story. Steve Martin has been named as one of the victims in an impressive international forgery scheme. Martin paid $850,000 in July 2004 for Landschaft mit Pferden (Landscape With Horses). Later he sold it at a loss of 200,000 euros to a Swiss businesswoman. It was then found to be a fake.

Martin purchased the painting from the Paris gallery Cazeau-Béraudière and later sold the painting through Christie’s. The question is why sell the painting at such a loss. The assumption is that over $200,000 is just not much of a concern for Martin. However, investigators are likely to ask if he had reason to suspect a forgery. Police believe the forgery is part of the work of Wolfgang Beltracchi, Otto Schulte-Kellinghaus and two sisters. It may have involved dozens of paintings.

What I find fascinating is that a leading gallery in Paris, an expert hired by Martin, and Christie’s were all taken in by the forgery, which must have been a remarkable felonious work. Now there are likely to be question of not just criminal but potential civil liability.

The sale and resale of just 14 of the forgeries is believed to have cost $48.6 million.

By the way, I really like the painting — forgery or not.

Source: Spiegel

9 thoughts on “Real Men Don’t Buy Campendonk: Steven Martin Named As Victim in Massive Forgery Scheme”

  1. People who go around faking stuff are annoying (especially to the “experts” who can’t tell the difference), but seriously, if you’re willing to pay a stupid amount of money for a piece of canvas with paint on it…you should at least LOVE it! As an artist, I want to say to Steve Martin and his ilk, buy art because you love it. Don’t cover your walls with art created by well known artists unless you love the work for itself. Value is transitory. Banks who hoard old masters as collateral have somehow overlooked the fact that art (like everything) goes in an out of fashion. Very few artists have been considered consistently valuable over time. Value is given to an object only when its desired. I was watching an old rerun of Antiques Roadshow this evening and this man had found a cache of prints and water colours in pile of rubbish dumped by the side of the road and brought them along to see if they had any value. One of them, a water colour by Winslow Homer, turned out to be worth 30,000 pounds. I wouldn’t pay 30,000 pounds for it, but some nutter desperate to own a Homer probably did. Hopefully it wasn’t a fake!

  2. And he thinks next week he’ll be able to send some more money as he may have extra work. His friend Patty promised him a _-_- job.

    I love that stupid movie

  3. As Navin Johnson used to say, “The Lord loves a working man, don’t trust whitey, see a doctor and get rid of it.”

  4. I like the painting too. I don’t know anything about German expressionists but am surprised that someone wouldn’t be suspicious when all of these new paintings appeared on the market at once. These are all relatively new paintings and there should be documentation (provenance) supporting their authenticity. The Campendonk expert should have been able to look at the date of the painting and gone through Campendonk’s records/diaries, sales registers, etc. to verify that it was painted by Campendonk.

    A “new” Mark Rothko has appeared. It’s being sold by Christies. Rothko’s executor says he has no record of Rothko ever having painted this painting and that the painting is a forgery. Christies has not hired the executor to give an opinion on the painting but some other person. If I were a buyer, that would raise alarm bells. Rothko was apparently very meticulous in recording his paintings, who they were sold to, the price, etc. His work I think would be easy to forge. I am not a Rothko fan.

  5. He doesn’t need that painting, he just needs this Ashtray…


  6. One potential cloud on the issue is that the prosecution could seek to define Martin himself as an expert given his reputation as a collector. What I’d be interested in – and the original story makes no mention of – is how the painting was now determined to be a forgery.

  7. You have to lose faith in the “art experts” given how often these guys seem to get taken in. They talk about focusing on the brush strokes and technique as well as the materials but those may not be as an exact science as they would claim.

    Makes me wonder why someone would not produce a few original paintings in the style of, say Campendonk, and then claim to have found them in a barn someplace. They could then let the experts confirm the artist & disclaim any responsibility if anyone found out otherwise.

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