This a funny story:
This “forger” is facing jail for … what, exactly?
…he is suspected of having passed off 35 paintings as valuable masterpieces from the early 20th century. Authorities believe he painted at least some of the forgeries himself.
Beltracchi allegedly escaped notice by forgoing forgeries of paintings by famous artists like Picasso. Instead, the “newly discovered paintings” he hawked were said to be done by lesser-known artists whose work — while still valuable — wouldn’t attract the same attention.
Apparently many of these were good paintings, original and not copies, in the style of some lesser-known (but nonetheless known) artists. For some reason they were considered to be worth more if someone else had painted them than if he had done it in his own name. Now if he had appropriated the name of a truly great artist, there might be some deception of an “Emperor’s New Clothes” type — people would pay more in the hope that there were hidden depths and subtleties in the work that would eventually be appreciated. But it should be possible to make some sort of appraisal of the value of a painting without knowing who painted it — it is certainly possible to do this for other types of art. The “collector’s value” that arises because of the finitude of the output of a famous artist is distinct from any artistic value of the painting itself; but it would be nice if appraisers itemized these separately. Is this too much to hope?
I feel sorry for the guy — his talent unrecognized unless he takes someone else’s name. I’m sure much of the appreciation of the paintings by those who thought they had been done by those other artists was genuine and valid aesthetic judgments. This suggests something has gone seriously wrong with the art of painting in the last century — but what, exactly?