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'Ancient' Forgeries Fool Art Markets

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'Ancient' Forgeries Fool Art Markets

By Matthias Schulz

Archeologists and art experts are concerned about a wave of forgeries that have appeared on the art market. The fakes are meeting the growing demand for collectable art from the global jet set, but even the musuems are being fooled.

The packed auction room at Sotheby's in New York was filled with feverish anticipation when, on June 7, 2007, assistants wearing white gloves rolled a delicate bronze statue about a meter (39 inches) tall into the room. According to the auction catalog, the bronze sculpture, titled "Artemis and the Stag," was a depiction of the Roman goddess of the hunt.

The sculpture was of a young girl with shining eyes, the folds of her knee-length robe draped suggestively over her body. A spokesman for the auction house raved about the sculpture, calling it "among the most beautiful works of art surviving from antiquity." The masterpiece promptly set off a vigorous bidding war.

A man from the sheikdom of Qatar offered the first bid, and an unknown man wearing a suit promptly countered with a higher bid. After that the bidding went up in $100,000 (€69,000) increments with each wave of a hand. When the duel stalled at $12 million, a new bidder seated at the rear of the room suddenly joined the fray.

The auctioneer's hammer finally came down with a bang at $25.5 million ($28.6 million, including the Sotheby's fee). The sculpture went to Giuseppe Eskenazi, a 68-year-old London art dealer, who promptly had the valuable piece flown to mainland Europe for his unidentified client.

It was the highest price every paid for a Roman sculpture. Even Sotheby's called the sale "absolutely astonishing."

But the new owner, rumored to be a Russian, could soon be disappointed. In a report SPIEGEL has obtained, Stefan Lehmann, an archeologist from the eastern German city of Halle, raises doubts about the piece. He is troubled by the "unexpressive face and seemingly perfect condition" of the sculpture. At first glance, writes Lehmann, the sculpture reminds him of a "classical work from the period around 1800."

Full story, source: Der Spiegel

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1.618

Although i deplore the forging of antiquities mainly due to how our knowledge of history can be erroneously interpreted, i think that, if the buyer is happy with what he/she has bought then so be it.

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__Kratos__
Although i deplore the forging of antiquities mainly due to how our knowledge of history can be erroneously interpreted, i think that, if the buyer is happy with what he/she has bought then so be it.

I'd be pretty cheesed off to find out that I had just paid $28.6 million for a fake piece of metal that could have been made for just thousands of dollars.

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1.618
I'd be pretty cheesed off to find out that I had just paid $28.6 million for a fake piece of metal that could have been made for just thousands of dollars.

If you can afford to spend that much on a statue....

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SnakeProphet

Eh, they'd be better off dealing in underground.

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