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10 fake works of art and artifacts exhibited in museums



Art forgery is a real threat that museums have to deal with. From time to time there is a fake artifact in a museum that can be exhibited for a few years before realizing that it is a fake. For counterfeiters, the high price tags associated with these counterfeits are often enough incentives to continue counterfeiting.

Counterfeiters often make extreme efforts to mislead museums into buying their works. Some counterfeits are so good that historians and archaeologists have a hard time distinguishing them from reality. Many museums have fallen victim to counterfeiters, including the famous Louvre, who for some years exhibited a fake work of art without noticing it.

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The Three Etruscan Warriors


In 1933, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (also known as the Met) in New York City has expanded its exhibit by three new works of art. They were the sculptures of three warriors from the ancient Etruscan civilization. The seller, an art dealer named Pietro Szettiner, claimed the sculptures were in the fifth century BCE. Been made.

Italian archaeologists expressed their first concerns that the statues could be forgeries. The museum curators, however, refused to adhere to the warning because they believed that they had received the works of art at a bargain price and did not want to lose them to another museum.

Other archeologists later discovered that the statues had unusual shapes and sizes for works of art in their day. The body parts were also unevenly shaped, and the entire collection had little damage. The museum discovered the truth only in 1960, when archaeologist Joseph V. Noble rebuilt using the same techniques as the Etruscan model statues and found that the statues in the Met could not have come from them.

Research shows that Szczecin was part of a larger group of counterfeiters who had conspired to create the statues. The team copied the sculptures from collections of several museums, including the Met itself. One of the warriors was copied from a picture of a Greek statue in a book by the Berlin Museum.

The head of another warrior was copied from the drawing on a real Etruscan vase of the Met. The sculptures also had uneven body parts because they were too big for the studio, forcing the counterfeiters to downsize some parts. One of the sculptures also lacked an arm, because the counterfeiters could not decide on an attitude. [1]

9 The Persian Mummy

In 2000, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan were almost diplomatically engaged in rowing over the mummy and coffin of an unidentified 2,600-year-old princess. The mummy, often referred to as a Persian mummy, was discovered when Pakistani police raided a house in Kharan after receiving a hint that the owner was illegally trying to sell antiques.

The owner was Sardar Wali Reeki trying to sell the mummy for 35 million pounds to an unknown buyer. Reeki claimed he found the mummy and the coffin after an earthquake. Iran soon took over the mummy, as Reeki's village was right on the border. The Taliban, who then ruled Afghanistan, later joined the struggle to challenge the possession of the mummy.

The mummy was sent to the National Museum of Pakistan and exhibited there. Several archaeologists discovered, however, that some parts of the coffin were too modern. In addition, there was no evidence that the tribes in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan had ever mummified their dead. Further analysis showed that the mummy was indeed the remains of a 21-year-old woman who was possibly a murder victim. It was taken to a morgue and the police arrested Reeki and his family. [2]

8 Scrolls of the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a group of handwritten scrolls with Jewish religious text content. They were written in the harsh environment of 2000 years ago and are among the oldest surviving writings of Hebrew scriptures. Most of the scrolls and fragments are kept in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, some in the hands of private collectors and museums.

This includes the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, which contained five fragments of scrolls on the screen. However, this changed in 2018, when it turned out that the fragments were counterfeits. The trick was discovered after the museum sent the fragments to Germany for analysis.

The museum sent the scrolls for investigation after experts raised the alarm that they might be counterfeits. These concerns were first expressed months before the opening of the museum in November 2017. Speculators claim the museum spent millions of dollars to acquire the fake scroll fragments. This remains unconfirmed, considering that the museum does not speak. [3]

7 Several Artworks in the Brooklyn Museum


In 1932, the Brooklyn Museum received 926 works of art from the estate of Colonel Michael Friedsam, who had died a year earlier. The artworks were a mixture of paintings, jewelery, woodwork and pottery from ancient Rome, the Chinese Qing Dynasty and the Renaissance.

Colonel Friedsam gave the art to the museum on the condition that they obtained the permission of his estate before selling or selling any of them. This condition became a problem decades later, when the museum discovered that 229 of the artworks were counterfeits.

The Brooklyn Museum could not decommission the art, as Colonel Friedsam's last descendant died half a century ago. The museum also can not throw it away because the Association of American Museums sets strict rules for the storage and disposal of art by member museums.

In 2010, the Brooklyn Museum went to court to allow the forgery of these forgeries. According to the petition filed with the court, the museum would initially spend $ 403,000 to set up an artifact storage facility if the court declined the request. Then it would spend another $ 286,000 a year on rent and labor to maintain the artwork. [4]

6 The Henlein pocket watch

Peter Henlein was a locksmith and inventor who lived in Germany between 1485 and 1542. I do not know him, but we all know and use his invention: the clock. Henlein invented the watch when he replaced the heavy weights used in watches with a lighter tension spring, which allowed him to make smaller watches. Clocks were made at that time by locksmiths and blacksmiths.

One of Henlein's supposedly early creations has been kept in the Germanic National Museum in Germany since 1897. The pocket watch resembles a small tin and fits in the palm of your hand. However, it became the center of controversy soon after its inclusion in the museum collection.

Several historians claimed that the so-called Henlein clock was a forgery and not an original. This happened, although the signature on the inside of the back of the clock in 1510 by Peter Henlein came. A 1930 report stated that the signature was added years after the alleged construction of the watch.

The experts reached their conclusion after finding that the signature over- and underlined the scratches on the back. Recent tests showed that most parts of the watch were made in the 19th century, suggesting that it could be a fake. However, other experts suspect that the parts were made in an attempt to repair the watch. [5]

5 Almost everything in the Mexican Museum of San Francisco


In 2012, the Mexican Museum was opened in San Francisco San Francisco received the status of a member of the Smithsonian Institution. The status allows the museum to loan and loan works of art from over 200 partner museums and institutions with affiliate status. However, the Smithsonian requires member museums to authenticate their collections before they can begin lending or lending artwork.

In 2017, the Mexican Museum discovered that only 83 of the first 2,000 works of art were counterfeit or, in rare cases, originals that were not suitable for exhibition. This was troubling given that the museum has 16,000 works of art in its collection. Experts estimate that half of the inventory of the museum is fake.

Some of the fakes were purposely created for transmission as an original, while others were originally intended as decoration. Some were not associated with Mexican culture at all. The variety of counterfeits is not surprising, as the museum received most of its collections of donors and had not bothered to confirm their authenticity. [6]

4 The Amarna Princess

In 2003, the city council of Bolton, Manchester, decided to acquire some new works of art for the local museum. They chose an allegedly 3,300-year-old statue called Amarma Princess which depicts a relative of Pharaoh Tutankhamun of ancient Egypt.

The sellers of the statue said they had been dug out of an Egyptian site. This claim was supported by the British Museum, which found no evidence of a nasty match after examining the statue. Satisfied, the Bolton City Council paid £ 440,000 for the statue exhibited in the museum.

A few years later, the Bolton Museum discovered that the British Museum was wrong. The statue was a forgery, the work of Shaun Greenhalgh, a notorious forger who made forged works of art, which he sold as originals to museums. Ironically Greenhalgh lived in Bolton and created the sculpture there.

His parents, George and Olive Greenhalgh, acted as his salesmen and sold the counterfeits to the museums. In 2007, Shaun was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison for his crime. His parents received suspended sentences for their part. [7]

3 A golden crown in the Louvre

In the 19th century, two men turned to the goldsmith Israel Rouchomovsky in what is today Odessa in Ukraine to commission a gold crown in the Greek style as a gift to an archaeologist Friend. In truth, the men had no friend of the archaeologist and wanted to sell the crown only as an original work of art from ancient Greece.

Schapschelle Hochmann, the cleverer of the duo, claimed that the crown was a gift from a Greek king to the king of Scythia sometime in the third century BC. Several British and Austrian museums rejected offers to purchase the crown. Hochmann, however, was lucky when the Louvre bought him for 200,000 francs.

Some archaeologists expressed concern that the crown might be faked shortly after its exhibition at the Louvre. Nobody listened to them because they were not French. The Louvre considered their statements an act of jealousy, as they probably wanted to crown their own museums.

The archaeologists were right in 1903, when a man named Lifschitz, a friend who saw Rouchomovsky make the crown, informed Rouchomovsky that his work was being exhibited as an original in the Louvre. Rouchomovsky traveled with a reproduction to France to prove that he had really made the crown.

The revelation was bad news for the Louvre and good news for Rouchomovsky, who immediately became famous. A century later, the Israel Museum borrowed the crown from the Louvre and turned it into an original work of art by Rouchomovsky. [8]

2 More than half of the paintings in the Etienne Terrus Museum


The Etienne Terrus Museum is a small well-known museum in Elne, France. It belongs to the city of Elne and shows the works of the 1857 in Elne born French artist Etienne Terrus. In 2018, the museum expanded its collection by 80 new paintings. However, things quickly went south when a historian commissioned to organize the new paintings noted that about 60 percent of the entire museum collection was counterfeit.

The historian had no difficulty in determining the works of art as forgeries. His gloved hand wiped the signature of a painting in one fell swoop. Some paintings also contained buildings that had not been built at the time Terrus was still alive.

Another analysis found that 82 of the 140 paintings kept in the museum were counterfeit. [9] The City Council had purchased most of the paintings between 1990 and 2010. The counterfeits were transferred to the local police station when police began investigations.

1 Everything in the Museum of Art Forgery

The Museum of Art Forgery is a real museum of art forgeries. The museum is located in Vienna, Austria, and collects only fake artifacts and works of art. Parts of his collections contain pages from a journal allegedly owned by Adolf Hitler. In fact, the diary was forged by a Konrad Kujau.

The museum divides its collections into counterfeits intended to imitate the style of a more well-known artist, forgeries to be sold as previously undiscovered works of art by a well-known artist, and to spend counterfeits as originals of already famous works of art.

The museum includes a category for works of art that it considers as replicas. Replicas are made by artists after the death of the original artist. They were often labeled as such and sold without being referred to as originals.

The Museum of Art Fakes also dedicates exhibition space to notorious forgers such as Tom Keating, who created over 2,000 counterfeit works of art during his lifetime. Keating purposely made mistakes in his art so that they could be exposed as a fake long after he had been paid. He called these deliberate mistakes "time bombs".

The museum also displays the work of Edgar Mrugalla, who created over 3,500 fake works of art, which he sold as originals. Mrugalla's career as a counterfeiter ended after being sentenced to two years imprisonment for counterfeiting. He was released only on the condition that he starts a new career, which forces him to assist authorities in detecting fake works of art. [10]



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