50% of Artworks Fake

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Words by Billie Jenkins  Photography by Nuria Cabrera

The chief of the Fine Art Expert Institution, Yann Walther, has made huge waves in the art industry. Last week it was made public Walther believed at least 50% of artworks circulating the private market to be fakes. The leader of the FAEI is a man that should know, 70-90% of the artworks that pass through his walls for authenticity testing are proved not to be the real deal. It’s a huge problem for those who livelihoods are wrapped up in the sales of art, and a huge fear for those places that spend public or donated money for the viewing pleasures of the masses. And, I guess, it’s scary if you’re a private collector dropping £4 million on eighteen square foot of cultural history. But you have £4 million to spare, things can’t be too bad.

This is the crux of the problem, if you can move the obscene amounts of money around an industry with no clear foundations to mark value against, it seems that the authenticity of works becomes a less heartbreaking concept. It is of course sad if the original is lost to the world, denying future generations of lovers and scholars the space to enjoy the details of their heroes. But when oligarchs are stockpiling canvases in warehouses, and the museums of the world are increasingly having to see their countries heritage mounted in foreign offices, I can’t help but be a little bit smug.

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