A Master Forger’s Works Are Auctioned, But Bidders Paid Good Money Despite Knowing They Are Forgeries

A forgery is one of the worst nightmares for any auction house, but even after being authenticated as fakes, this auction house is putting up the works, and astonishingly, they are selling like hot cakes — and for good money too.

Nearly 20 years after his death, the work of the so-called “master forger” is fetching high prices again, however this time it’s under his own name, reported BBC. During the second half of the 20th century, forged artworks by young Englishman Eric Hebborn flooded the galleries and auction houses of Europe and America.

More than 200 of his sketches in the style of Rubens, Van Dyck, Michelangelo and others were auctioned off by Webbs of Wilton in England this week. Bidders were completely aware of the authenticity and nature of the works and still chose to pay a lot more than what these fakes would have earned earlier.

This Expertly Forged Sketch, Based On A Michelangelo Piece, Fetched £2,200

Why are bidders lining to snap up fake paintings for high prices? Hebborn prepared his own historically authentic ink and paper, and always created a detailed paper trail for each drawing. But his work couldn’t have convinced others without his genuine talent – his ability to recreate almost perfectly the style of the great artists. Speaking about the “artist,” Philip Hoffman, the chief executive of The Fine Art Fund Group, which buys art on behalf of investors said,

“Hebborn was a genius. He fooled many people. And it was extremely expensive fooling for very wealthy collectors and museums.”

It’s quite possible that many of the works by Hebborn are still hanging on the walls of galleries as genuine old masters, reported PRI. Though the works of the most famous artists are too well documented to fake, lesser-known artists are still frequently targeted. Despite this, the risk of buying one of those forgeries remains very real, cautioned Hoffman.

“It can be a nightmare. Sometimes the paperwork is too good to be true, and I always think, ‘If it is too good to be true, then it usually is too good to be true.'”

Surprisingly, Eric Hebborn was caught only when experts noticed similarities in the paper he had used for different artists’ work. But Eric is justifiably proud of the facts that he was never given away by the drawings themselves, and that experts continued to be taken in by his work.

Explaining his passion to create and pass-off fakes as works of old masters, Hebborn said, “Only the experts are worth fooling. The greater the expert, the greater the satisfaction in deceiving him.”

Master forgers are gaining popularity for their “works.” Perhaps art lovers are willing to hang painstakingly recreated works of iconic and timeless artists.

[Image Credit |Webbs of Wilton, Cat diamante]