Can a Forgery Cost More Than Original Art?

Can a Forgery Cost More Than Original Art

Everyone knows that original art is expensive. The cost depends on many factors: the name of the artist, the art form, the historical background, the condition, etc.

But sometimes, forgeries are more expensive than original works. Below, we have collected three stories about notorious art fakes, both suspected and confirmed.

Original Art That Turned Out to Be Fake

1. Salvator Mundi, Leonardo da Vinci, $450 million

This painting of Christ by the famous Leonardo da Vinci is considered to be the most expensive artwork in the world. More than 10 years ago, it was found at an estate sale in New Orleans and later sold at the auction for a world record price of $450 million to an anonymous buyer (later it turned out that he was the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia).

However, some art historians and experts still believe that this work is a high-quality forgery or, at least, a work by Leonardo’s disciples. If you are interested in hearing all the pros and cons of this opinion, we recommend watching The Lost Leonardo, a recent documentary by Andreas Koefoed.

2. La Femme Au Chapeau Bleu, Pablo Picasso, $2 million 

Compared to the previous da Vinci painting, this work cost less – only $2 million. The reason is that this depiction of a girl in a blue hat, attributed to Pablo Picasso, was just a drawing or even a sketch.

A few years after the purchase at an auction, the owner of the work became interested in its authenticity. This led to the experts discovering that this was not original art, but a forgery. In fact, the drawing was made by a modern artist living near LA.

3. Proun, El Lissitzky, price unknown

It seems that nothing has been forged as often as the works of the so-called Russian avant-garde, namely those by Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitzky, Natalia Goncharova, Wassily Kandinsky, and others. The Museum Ludwig in Cologne was the first institution to attempt a comprehensive analysis of its collection. The investigation allowed them to identify, at least, 22 fakes.

The result was an exhibition in 2021 where the fakes were displayed alongside the original art. Fortunately, there were far more quality paintings than fakes in the collection.

How to avoid buying a fake?

If you are still not ready to become the owner of a fake, we recommend that you pay attention to the services of an art consultant or art appraiser. It is always better to have proof of authenticity before buying something as valuable as fine art.