The Real Story Behind Lord Thomson & the Fake Krieghoffs!
|Great Canadian Artist|
Does he look pleased with what's being done with his name?
Fake works by Cornelius Krieghoff probably outnumber his real ones - those he painted and signed himself. That's why Cornelius looks glum.
|Great Canadian Heritage Treasure (Trash Sure)|
Hunter on Snowshoes (detail) - "After Cornelius Krieghoff"
Orig. oil - Size - 7.5" x 9.5"
Found - London, ON
Provenance, Gardner Galleries, May 15, 2005, Lot 236, bears signature C. Krieghoff
This oil painting turned up at a Gardner's auction in London, ON, with its main listing title as "Oil Painting on Canvas," which, in all honesty, was all you could really say about it! But the listing then noted it as "After Krieghoff" and "Bears Signature," which, of course, also said Krieghoff.
But neither entry has anything to do with the real Krieghoff himself. Someone, probably an old FAART, just decided to combine Krieghoff's name with a look-alike piece of new "copy" art, and sent it to Gardner's hoping he - women wouldn't do something like FAART - can catch a "live one" and make a bundle.
|Great Canadian FAARTS Detector|
|When was the last time you heard someone say, "Lookit that stupid old faart over there!" and paid no attention? It could cost you some day...
Have you ever looked at a painting and sensed that "Something doesn't smell quite right here!"
Or have you ever been to an art auction, and suddenly get the feeling there is a FAART loose in the house?
You would be correct. In fact very likely there are several FAARTS loose in the room at once...
Beware: FAARTS at Work: You should be aware that there is - at this moment, right here in Canada - a covert industry of "Fake Antique Art Reproduction Tarting-up Specialists" (FAARTS for short), hard at work.
FAART - Fake Antique Art Reproduction Tarter-up
FAARTING - the process by which this is done
FAARTS - their professional association
|A FAART is primarily connected with art auctioneers and art sellers, and works full-time creating and promoting fake Canadian art, "In the Manner of," "After so and so," "School of," "Circle of,""Bearing the Signature of," etc.
You should look out especially for old FAARTS! They're the worst because they have the most experience to fool you.
Below are all the things to check for before you spend thousands on a fake - how art dealers, who put these fakes up for auction, tart them up to make them look like something they aren't.
Remember the aim - like in business always - is to "Con the Consumer." The word "consumer" - that's you - was built around the root word "con" to describe one who "buys the con."
It's your life's work to make sure it isn't you who gets conned!
An Old Frame: FAARTS - always - put old frames - that could very well be over 100 years old - around the art work they're tarting up, knowing that an old frame is the first thing that an uneducated art buyer will probably notice. "Gee honey, see that painting, It's really old. Just look at that frame!"
The fake Krieghoffs, above and below, are recent examples from a prestigious antique dealer who put them up for auction. The frames are probably 1880s or so, and may very well be chipped, worn, or similar to heirloom family frames you may have in your own home. Don't be fooled, just because your great grandfather's old picture is in a similar frame, that the pictures here are of the same age as great grandpapa.
Don't Take Down the Picture: Prestige FAARTS - only found in the finest auction houses - won't let you touch their art. At elite auctions, if you reach to touch a painting for a closer, tell-tale look, someone will shout at you. It's to put you off from examining a fake too closely, or any of the other paintings you may have suspicions about. (At some art auction houses like Waddington's - where they have nothing to hide - they allow you to grope the paintings to your heart's content - but not the male supervisory staff. No big loss: they're a homely bunch anyway.)
But don't you be put off. Always ask to have the art taken down. You must see that back of any painting you ever buy. Why? Because it's the most important part of almost every work of art.
Below is the back of the "Hunter." Ignore the marvellous signs of age on that genuinely old frame. Remember you're not buying an old frame for thousands; you can buy these for fifty or sixty bucks anywhere at an auction. Which is exactly what the FAART paid for it when he bought it at the flea market last week.
Stretching the Truth: The wooden frame is called the stretcher, because the canvas painting is pulled tight around it, and tacked to its sides, before it is set back into the frame. The stretcher - like this one - could look - and be - positively ancient. This one is easily 100 years old. (This is not really a stretcher, which usually has adjustment wedges in the corners; this is merely a section of a multi part frame to which the canvas has been tacked instead.)
But what you really want to see, is the canvas back of the painting that someone, sometime, has tacked to the stretcher. You want to find out if an old FAART did it.
After 150 years the canvas back should be stained, spotted, filthy, maybe even have canvas patches to cover up old holes. (Check the backs of other oil paintings that are really cracked and filthy and torn and old. You'll never forget what old canvas should look like after 100 or 200 years.)
But this canvas is spotless, brand-spanking new, probably from the 1990s or later. Clearly the painting of "The Hunter," on the other side, could not possibly be the work of Krieghoff, from 1860, but is that of modern FAARTS, though its impossible to tell if its an old FAART or not. But this one does smell bad...
Lining his Pockets: Above, the same story for the "Old Basket Seller." A brand spanking new canvas back, tacked on to an antique "stretcher" in a dirty old frame.
Ask the old FAART who put it up for sale, "Why would you put such a filthy old frame around a brand new - right from the IKEA art department - picture. IKEA doesn't!" He won't tell you but it's all about the con in consumer.
He may loftily try to steer you wrong again. "That painting has been re-lined recently, that's why the canvas looks new back there." This can actually be another layer of con...
Re-lining is the process whereby a new canvas backing is glued to the back of a valuable old painting that may be in danger of falling apart from rotting or ripping due to age. Museums do it to preserve genuine old masters for generations more to come.
"Oh!" you say. "Maybe this is an old master, after all!"
So check the sides of the stretcher to see if what the FAART said is true...
|The edge of the stretcher or frame takes most of the stress of a canvas because it is pulled tight and nailed there. New, relined canvas should therefore also show up there to take the strain off the old painting. The fringes of two layers of canvas, squeezed together, should be visible around the edge of the stretcher - the original old, and the new one.
This stretcher has only one layer of canvas and it too looks brand spanking new - it is after all, an extension of the canvas the painting is on. No sign of reliner work on an old master here. Another stinker from the FAART.
|Nail that old FAART: Check those nails. At a certain point the old FAARTS let down their guard, and betray their forgery to you. The tacks used to attach this "old Krieghoff" had brand spanking, shiny new tops, just as if they came from the Home Depot last week - which they did! Tops of nails rust after several years of condensation has been at work on them. So this new canvas has been tacked to this ancient frame only weeks, or months, ago.
In fact the old FAART could tell you he picked these shiny tacks up on the same shopping trip as he picked up the "Krieghoff" oil from his art forger.
Below shiny nails that go back at least to the 1970s. But wait, didn't Krieghoff die in 1870?!
|Back-check: Ideally, you want to have an antique painting that was last put into the frame by the artist her/himself, and nailed shut. That means rotting old dark brown paper, very soiled, splotchy canvas, and rusted old nails that are rock solid in their original nail holes, and have no shiny edges, from having been pried out by slipping pliers, and then carefully put back in.
Paintings or prints, with backs like this, turn up often at auctions; the artwork has not been touched or taken out of the frame in over 100 or 125 years.
Always assume that if someone has been inside the back of an old painting, he has been up to no good. If it is covered with ripped paper backing, like that above, someone has been inside within the last few years. That's 100 years plus, since Krieghoff died... Wonder what they were up to; wonder what they found out?
Check the back of any painting you plan to buy. Many paintings have brown paper glued over the back. This is done for two reasons first, to act as a dust cover to keep dirt out of the precious painting, and second to keep snooping eyes from discovering the true condition of the work inside. Did and artist like Krieghoff do it, or a FAART? Dust covers are often the first line of defence, used by forgers to hide their handy work.
So always ask if the auction expert has removed the dust cover and looked at the painting. If it is glued shut, assume they have not bothered. So they think the painting is junk, or they are lazy, or both.
If the paper is ripped you know someone has been inside, either the forger or the auctioneer, or both. Ask the auctioneer if it was him/her, and ask what they found. Is it really Krieghoff. Or was it a FAART?
|Sign of the Times: The Hunter, top, even has a real signature that says C Krieghoff. WOW! you say...
Don't be fooled. Signatures - especially signatures of famous artists - are very easily copied by forgers. And that one is on very new canvas. Remember? Cornelius died in 1872.
Below is another signature from another Krieghoff fake. But FAARTS did it again, not Krieghoff.
|Selling art without signatures is hard; few buyers want art that has no artist's names; anonymous art is definitely not popular. And all art dealers and auction houses know a signature is key.
So art dealers make use of FAARTS to provide one. "Which signature would you like?" asks the old FAART, "How about Cornelius Krieghoff? I see Ken Thomson just paid $150,000 for one. Maybe we can spiff this fake one up and you can get 5, 10, or $20,000, if we can just con someone into believing this is the real McCoy. Sorry, I mean real Krieghoff."
Suspicious Catalogue Position - The auction lists the forgery right next to what they purport to be an obviously real, genuine, work by Krieghoff that is pegged to sell for an astronomic amount - say for $125,000 - but at an embarrassingly - tell tale - lower price of $4,000.
They do this because they hope there is a double ripple effect. They hope the forgery will get a rise in status, by appearing next to the real Krieghoff, and a consequent lift in bidding enthusiasm for an item they know is of questionable integrity.
No once can accuse the auction house of saying it is a genuine Krieghoff, but they are hoping to tap into the greed of bidders tempted into making a leap of illogic with large amounts of discretionary spending that they wouldn't make under more rational circumstances. They are snookered into buying junk art for inflated prices.
But before you shed a tear, don't. Most of these sales go to stockbrokers, bankers, lawyers, and other of their ilk, who never really earned their money honestly anyway. It all balances out... Let's hear it for the FAARTS...
There is another upside to this. For years after buying a Krieghoff she doesn't know is fake, the arriviste wife can splutter, over horse doovres, "Oh the Krieghoffs went together. Ken Thompson and I got them. Ken got the first and I got the next. But I do believe Ken paid too much; whereas I got the deal of the night!" Not entirely correct, Madam; the FAARTS did.
Provenance: Use the art auction's own weapons against them. Consult any of the glossy art auction catalogues put out by Canada's leading art auctioneers: Heffel's, Waddington's, Sotheby's, Walker's, Ritchie's, Levis, Hodgins, Richard's, and Joyner's.
See how they spend gallons of printer's ink on the life story of each of their prestige paintings - who owned it originally, who it passed it to whom, and so on down the line. There is only one message in all this and that is - this is no fake! No FAART got in the way. Trust us! Ouch! Don't go that far...
They spend much more ink describing which acknowledged Canadian experts have referred to this very same painting in their research, using that as extra corroborative proof that the painting is not a fake.
In summary, by the auction's own standard, the paper trail of a genuine Krieghoff is purported to be long and is trundled out to verify the work as a certifiable work by Krieghoff. That you can take to the bank. With all the certainty of a Nortel share...
But, but, but... Yet on that other "Krieghoff," listed right alongside of a legitimate Krieghoff painting, they publish not a jot, not a line, of provenance - if you were a forger, would you want to have your name listed, and blow your cover. They list not a single mention of it by art experts in their literature.
Private Collection, Toronto: This was a term once invented on display labels and catalogues to give cover to rich people who loaned private paintings for museum displays, so that they wouldn't have their Toronto house burgled of their valuables when they were vacationing at their Irish estate.
How times have changed.
It is a Statistics Canada certifiable truth: there are more crooks and creeps in Toronto, than in any other Canadian urban centre. And more art forgers...
The provenance of Private Collection, Toronto, neatly covers the paintings of forging FAARTS and con men, as they do the Premier's of the Province. But the latter owns no Krieghoffs - he can't afford them. Conversely, the FAARTS have lots in their private collections... In short, a catalogue listing as Private Collection, Toronto, for a Krieghoff - in fact for any painting - is no guarantee of anything, except perhaps a forgery!
You ask, aren't these art dealer/auctioneers ashamed to be involved in all, or any, of this?
The answer - there is no shame in making money!
Or "Serving our customers." Read - dishing out the con to the consumer...
And the next time you hear someone say, "He's just an Old Faart," have more respect. He's probably making a hell of a lot more money than you!
Their inherited wealth has been a boon to high society antique dealers who are known to slaver, uncontrollably, every time a new oil-rich Arab Chic - or is that Sheik - hits town, or a Canadian nouveau, sashays in, leaving her Rolls running. How could you Barbara, Hilary, Heather... We know you don't worry about the hole in your bank accounts, but what about the hole in the ozone layer?
Make no mistake, this is extremely serious business.
For example, high society columnists reported that Lynne Taylor, some time ago, was in a cat fight with Anne Getty, another heiress, over two small pots, at the prestigious Sotheby's Auction House in London, England.
Pompadoured and puffed up Sotheby's men in suits just stood by, smiled, and let the gals fight it out, tooth and claw, with their Daddy's millions.
Neither of them - of course - had a pot to hiss in before their fathers came along. No wonder they wanted one of their own - two actually, now. Oh, and they're not pots - you say! They're urns! Oh, OK! we get it. Cause you urned them, right?
Lord Thomson - I mean Ken Thomson - make that Lynne Taylor Thomson - excuse us but the inheritance trail is rather long here - ultimately shelled out 3.9 million dollars at the prestigious Sotheby's, London, auction house, for the two tiny little pots. That's two million each... make that per hiss...
That's the kind of money that will make just about anyone, anywhere, say or do anything. For starters, it will certainly make any auctioneer put on a suit. And apparently put on airs, as well...
Much to Lynne Taylor's later chagrin... She was taken in by both.
She discovered in time, that she was robbed - big time - by the high class Sotheby men in suits. The hiss pots - OK, urns - turned out to be fakes - not 18th century, like Sotheby experts pomposited, but relatively modern repros.
Of course Lynne Taylor didn't have a clue, when she paid for them, what she bought; she only knew what the Sotheby men told her, that they were originals, very old, very rare, and very, very valuable; she only knew they were pretty. Pretty expensive too, but then that has never been a problem for her.
Then somebody, with less money but more brains, told her she'd been had! By Sotheby's men in suits!
Lynne hissed in her pots.
Sotheby snoots sniffed back, "No returns; it's a done deal; the pots were real, and real old too, Madame Thomson!"
Their unctuous protests were in vain. They forgot Lynne Taylor had bottomless pockets. She went to court - it took years - to demand restitution.
She won too; the judge said, in so many words, that the men in suits at Sotheby's were - you pick the words Madame Thomson would use here - con men, clueless, crooks, creeps, or cool customers, or all the forgoing...
In a word, prestigious Sotheby's had knowingly lied or misrepresented a work of art - hiss pots to you - to make a buck - make that 3.9 million bucks. No wonder!
Who wouldn't, when you see one coming down the road? A well-heeled socialite patron of the arts, that is.
Which is where her father Ken comes in. And Krieghoff...
Ken could have followed the example of other heirs of huge fortunes, and gone bad, like Paris Hilton - thank God he didn't, and inflict a private video on us like she did. Or he could have emulated the cosmetic heir and video-taping, serial rapist Andrew Luster, who was finally caught by Dog the Bounty Hunter in Mexico.
Or Ken could also have gone even worse, like fellow former Canadian press baron the corpulent Lord Dudley of Squat, who was burdened, or saddled - lets not go there - with an extravagant - we can hardly say young-looking here - wife.
Instead, to Canada's eternal benefit, Ken spent his money buying up Canadian art - big time.
He made a special passion out of collecting Krieghoffs.
Which was both good, and bad.
It was good that a Canadian was ending up with the paintings, instead of a wealthy American, or an oil-rich Arab chic.
Even better, because, rather than squirreling away his paintings in his Rosedale mansion, like his daughter had done with her hiss pots, Ken set up rooms for a public art gallery, where, for decades, he put the paintings on display there, so Canadians from all walks of life could come in and see the priceless art treasures of one of Canada's leading painters.
(He won widespread publicity in the last few years for announcing he is donating his huge collection to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Wonderful for Ontario, for Canada, for all those who like to have public access to our national heritage treasures. But let's in all honesty make it clear that what the public thinks is a donation, is not what it is at all, in any way, shape, or form. In return for "giving" - as the AGO loves to slaver, to coddle favour with their upper class benefactor, and endlessly parroted, mindlessly, by our ever equally subservient, slavering media journalists - "giving" it is not.
It is a dollar deal, plain and simple, in the many millions of dollars. Some donation, when real big dollars are involved here. In exchange for "giving" his art to the AGO, his paintings are assessed as worth so many millions, in Ken's case hundreds of millions. The evaluations are interesting too.
The assessments are done, not by the hard-hearted functionaries in the tax department who ruthlessly cut down to the bone the deductions submitted by the lower classes, but by friendly art consultants tied to the AGO, who, in their eternal gratitude for his "donation," are extremely generous in evaluating what his paintings are worth, always more, rather than less. After all, it costs them not a nickel to do so. But the more generous they are, the more pleased - and generous - Ken Thompson can be expected to be... Tsk, tsk...
It is the Federal Government's tax department which loses out, not the budget of Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario.
In return for his "donation" Ken Thomson's estate gets a tax write off certificate worth so many millions of dollars. His kids takes that home, apply it against company profits, and puts millions of resulting savings in their pockets.
So much for the so-called "donations" of all our philanthropists.)
Still we get to see the paintings Ken Thompson collected in his lifetime.
Bravo to him; it's truly wonderful to see what a man of means can accomplish with his fortune when he's not saddled with an extravagant arriviste wife.
During Ken's collecting days he - rather his proxy bidder - became a fixture on the art auction scene. Whenever a Krieghoff came on the market, everyone knew Ken would snap it up. They wondered though, for how much?
There was a down side to this of course.
Everyone began to notice, and knew that Ken would pay just about anything to get one. Prices for Krieghoffs started to climb, astronomically. But Ken was hooked on Krieghoff, and just kept digging deeper into his pockets.
It became a game among the art auction crowd to see how high Ken would go to snatch a Krieghoff out of the hands of gazillionaire private buyers from the US.
Art dealers everywhere, soon went looking for Krieghoffs, hoping that they could make a killing by dangling them in front of Ken at auctions.
They weren't to be found, of course, in numbers to suit the demand. And that's where Ken's passion started to create problems for himself and other art lovers...
In pursuing a private passion, towards a public good, Ken Thomson had, unwittingly, created an arena of opportunity for art dealers to turn their talents to aid and abet the forgery of Krieghoff works. (One must remember this was not being done by plumbers, or teachers, or accountants, or nurses, but by professionals who sell art for a living.)
All sorts of Krieghoff knock-offs started to appear. They looked exactly like the works Krieghoff was known to have painted, and many even sported his signature on the bottom. They always came in very old frames.
Krieghoff Signatures: People, who noted that Krieghoff's signature varied wildly - even though his painting style never seemed to change - were quickly reassured. Said one major art dealer and auctioneer, loftily, "We have all our Krieghoffs vetted by experts at the Art Gallery of Ontario. They assure us that Krieghoff signed his name in a wide variety of styles."
"How convenient!" you can hear SNL's Church Lady say.
Still many art aficionados were disquieted by what they saw. Sometimes Krieghoff's signature tilted strongly left, then suddenly, in another, to the right - try this with your own signature sometime, and see if you can write your name with a pronounced tilt to the opposite side from which you now customarily slant it without thinking. Then try doing it on a painting, perfectly, with the Krieghoff script and look, tilting perfectly in the opposite way!
And then too, the printed letters shifted from German to Dutch script, or was it a mixture of both?
Oddly enough, Krieghoff's signature communicated a lot of stress; it seemed to say "Look, I'm trying to look the same from picture to picture, you know, always printed in that Germanic style. It's just that I'm so wildly all over the wall on this."
Or is it just easier to admit that it was not Krieghoff who varied widely at all, but that whoever forged the signatures - and there were many - did a great job of copying Krieghoff's letters, but unwittingly, added their own personal slant to the group, either to the left or the right, or sometimes left them totally vertical. Just remember there are lefty FAARTS, and right-handed ones.
Isn't this a better explanation on why FAARTS, not Krieghoff, are responsible for the "wide variety of styles" in the signatures on so many Krieghoff paintings?
Finally, you can ask yourself, "Why would Krieghoff alter his trademark signature so wildly from left to right, when it is so difficult to do in the first place. What would be the purpose when his painting style stayed the same?
It is also true that in the mid-nineteenth century, dare we say most artists, never signed their names to their paintings at all.
So why would Krieghoff be so wildly at variance with his artist colleagues?
Which is most inconvenient in our day for those making a living selling high priced art, when all the arriviste buyers demand bragging signatures to impress their friends with how much they spent. To Barbara, Hillary, and Heather, a Krieghoff without a signature has all the appeal of a Rolls without a chauffeur, a face - or a butt - without a lift, or a marriage for love...
Art auctioneers and dealers found this sad conjunction of the planets - Krieghoffs without signatures, and buyers who are only autograph hunters - most unfortunate. Couldn't something be done about this?
It's an ill wind that blows no good...
That's when FAARTS entered the picture, admittedly only in small wisps at first but then full blast, when success blew good fortunes their way with the growing number of signed Krieghoffs that appeared.
Isn't it much more likely that most of those Krieghoff signatures are actually fake, even though they are sometimes on real genuine paintings by him? And placed there by a painting sub-contractor hired by an art dealer (Fake Antique Art Reproduction Tarter-up) who saw historical value to add a signature which the artist had forgotten to sign himself. And double or quintuple or woppingtuple the value of the painting on the art market for himself in the process.
Clearly FAARTING made sense, and a lot of money. And if it was done well, no one could smell, well a rat. So why stop there?
Re-cycling Anonymous Art: There is a huge raft of unsigned paintings from the nineteenth century that turn up at auctions across Canada every year. They sell poorly because no one wants paintings that are not signed. Buyers want a name so galleries that sell art will not even hang anonymous, unsigned paintings. If only...
So these go cheap. Until...
Until one, which resembles the work of a known artist whose art is in demand, comes up at auction. The bids rise uncustomarily briskly. An odour starts to permeate the room; FAARTS at work! It's noticed, of course, and commented upon routinely, by art buyers. "Well, we know who that is coming back as!"
The winning bidder takes it to one of his personal FAARTS and before long the painting reappears with a new signature: William Armstrong, Marmaduke Matthews, FM Bell-Smith.
And thanks to Ken Thomson, Cornelius Krieghoff.
Re-cycled or forged art like this is usually bought as anonymous art at an auction in one part of the country, then sold - with the added signature - at another, far away.
Believe it or not there are FAARTS all over Canada. But, if you keep your eyes open, because of the internet you can follow forged art across the country.
(Below, a painting that appeared as a Horstrum at Waddington's, in Toronto, re-appeared transformed by a FAART, as an Armstrong, at Gordon's Auction in Kingston, ON.)
When we alerted the auctioneer and assistants that there was a work by a possible FAART in the room, sporting a fake signature, they sniffed in lofty disdain that FAARTING was not allowed at their auction or in Kingston, that the work came from a Gentleman in Toronto - who, they seemed to imply, was therefore above FAARTING - and rudely scoffed us into silence. They sold the fake as an Armstrong to an unwitting dupe in Kingston, who at this very moment has it hanging on a wall and showing it off to friends as a "real Armstrong."
So Gordon's is quite aware of FAARTING, and didn't want it associated with Kingston. They indicated clearly, that if any FAARTING is being done, it is only done in Toronto...
We later found absolute proof of the forgery. But the auctioneers did not care a whit; they were after money however they could get it.)
A painting that was bought for a few bucks, will now sell for multi-thousands, all because it was transformed by a FAART to suit a hot market for a specific artist.
How often Ken Thomson was fooled with paying big bucks for a Krieghoff forgery is not known.
That it happened is absolutely certain, probably mostly in his early days of collecting. If it worked once, it happened more than once. Nothing like success to spur a FAART on to greater effort, and Ken had bottomless pockets. Some art dealers even know the name of the forger who carried it off!
In recent times Ken Thomson had top experts to advise him. He knew which of his were forgeries. An interesting question would be what he did with them. It is certain that he clearly would not want his gallery contaminated with them. What to do?
They did cost him a lot of money...
And Ken Thomson was notoriously cheap - with a dollar.
70 or 80 thousand invested in a fake would have kept the overly-emotional Ken, awake at night. What to do?
Very likely one of his art dealers - a class harbouring many who have as much sympathy for their clients as a concentration camp guard - offered a cure to Ken's sleepless nights. Put them back on the market, keep mum about our suspicions, and let the art auction label them. I guarantee you'll get all your money back, probably a lot more. After all they came from the Ken Thomson Collection, right? And look Ken, it's only some stock broker's wife or bankers tart who can afford them anyway. And you know how much they rip you off monthly with banking fees, and churning your stocks around and around, just to take you for hundreds of thousands in commissions. They owe you one! We're just not telling anybody we know they're fakes. Heh, heh...
So the circumstantial evidence is very strong that FAARTING is done by those at the very top of society in their mansions in Rosedale. They just have a better class of FAARTS than the lower orders can afford. But whether hi class, or low, FAARTS, wherever they go, still leave a bad smell behind.
But Ken wasn't taken in so easily in later years than when he was just starting and salivating as a beginning Krieghoff collector.
The FAARTS weren't after Ken Thomson anyway, of late. They were, and are, after the Ken Thomson wannabees - the lawyers - pronounced liars in Newfoundland - the perennial socialites, like Lynne Taylor, the stock brokers, investment advisors, the idle rich, arriviste wives, or the CEO trollops installed in Sutton Place...
Since Ken Thomson has made Krieghoff famous - among the cocktail circuit crowd, anyway - they all want one of their own in their ongoing game of social upmanship. And they'll do just about anything, and pay just about anything, to have a real one of their own.
Their salivating attracts attention.
Up steps one of the forging FAARTS. "A Krieghoff Madam, I thought I heard you say? I just happen to have acquired the art from a rather wealthy estate - I don't know if you're familiar with the eminent Lady Barbara van Pompousass - but there are a couple of exquisite Krieghoffs in her collection. She is in - ah - some financial difficulty at the moment and would like to sell off some of her cherished pieces to improve her cash flow. I could arrange a private showing at your convenience."
Oh Dear Me! What Shall I Do? The name Krieghoff raises the bidding temperature everywhere - for real ones as well as fakes.
99% of the time the "in-group" of auctioneers, art dealers, and hard-core art buyers know the fakes. But the vast majority of the buying public, at auctions and galleries both, cannot tell the difference. If it says Krieghoff, somewhere, that's proof enough for them. And that's why art dealers refuse to dump the fakes into a landfill somewhere.
Because Krieghoffs - real ones, and fakes - are all money in the bank. And apparently - according to one art dealer - a thousand dollar bill from a genuine one, looks the same, as one from a fake.
Art dealers and auctioneers are therefore in a sort of pickle. What would you do, if someone brought in one of the fakes to sell, since their earmarks make them easy to detect? Mostly.
Some art dealers refuse to sell them. Period. Their rationale is simple. Why contaminate an auction with many real pieces of genuine Canadian art from the artists who actually signed the works in person? Just for a few extra bucks from a bogus piece of copy art with a fake signature done by FAARTS?
Others just brazenly sell bogus works, amid their high class genuine art ware, as Krieghoffs. "Hey, I didn't put the signature there. It says Krieghoff. I sell art from hundreds of artists. I can't verify every signature. You have to go on trust in this world. It's up to the buyer to decide. I'm not an art historian; I'm an auctioneer. I sell to make a living. I'm not going to get hung up on one signature when I sell hundreds of paintings every year. Don't bid on the Krieghoff if you don't want it!"
Some art auctioneers feature forged art because they know they are not selling to the public at all, but to FAARTS directly. They know the forgers will be at their auction. The forgers all have rich buyers already in mind and a black book of private clients to whom they have sold forged art before. They are always looking for new works for forging so they can flip them for a bundle to a private buyer - the vast majority of whom never go to, or even know about, art auctions.
Some art dealers, out of embarrassment, whatever, qualify the listing for a work they know is a patent fake, with "After Krieghoff." This can mean just about anything. But the key thing to remember here is that the important word Krieghoff is kept as part of the nomenclature as if Krieghoff had something - anything - to do with this work of art.
Let's face it; it is either Krieghoff, or it is not!
Ken Thomson did not put "After," or "Circle of" or "School of", or "Bears the Signature of" in front of any of his Krieghoffs; his are real, not pretend, works by the artist. One word - the only word that matters - Krieghoff, alone, is on Ken Thomson's paintings.
Why would anyone put "After" in front of Krieghoff, especially if the work already has a Krieghoff signature on it? And often a Krieghoff name plate as well?
Call a Krieghoff a Krieghoff.
And if not, call it a forgery, a fake, a copy, and not try to delude the public, that Krieghoff is in any way, involved in any of this.
Just don't call it "After Krieghoff." He had nothing to do with it. Simple honesty, and clarity of communication demands that you drop his name.
And if you insist on keeping the "After" category, just call it "After Money!"
|SHORT LIST - Great Canadian FAARTS Identifier|
Tell Tale Signs of
Fake Antique Art Tarting-up Specialists at Work
|Age of Paint - The painting surface shows no cracks, or wear, or ripples, but looks smooth, brand new, taut, and ageless, like Joan River's face.
Old Frame - The painting is in an old frame.
New Canvas Back - The canvas back is new, and not re-lined.
Shiny Tacks - The tacks or nails are new and shiny, not rusty, old, and as they should be. And round instead of square.
Will it Float? - Learn from David Letterman, who knows a thing or two on this subject.
Study the signatures of artists you want to buy. Remember that when signatures are added by the original artist, the paint is wet, and they meld completely into the oily surface.
When FAARTS add a signature, say a hundred years later, on top of varnish and dirt that the surface has attracted, their signature will FLOAT on top of the paint surface. By angling the painting to the light and looking at it with a loupe you can see if the letters reflect light differently than the surrounding paint. If it does you have a FLOAT by a FAART, not a signature made by Krieghoff.
Suspicious Catalogue Position - Auctions scatter work by the same artist throughout their catalogue, to keep up interest and vary the presentation at the sale. But fake Krieghoffs are routinely placed right next to real ones to get the benefit of the bounce or ripple effect, just like people seem to think they gain status by having their picture taken beside a celebrity. Art auctions don't mind playing to people's weaknesses.
Evasive Listing - The shameless auction listing refers to it, brazenly, as a Krieghoff, or more demurely as, After Krieghoff, or Manner of Krieghoff, School of Krieghoff, Circle of Krieghoff, or Bears Signature of Krieghoff.
In the future look for Family or Friends of Krieghoff, Spirit of Krieghoff, Idea of Krieghoff, or I Dream of Krieghoff, but never I Made Money by Faking This Krieghoff.
Auction listings never refer to a painting, which they very well know is a repro, as to what it really is: Knock-off of Krieghoff, Forgery of Krieghoff, or Fake of Krieghoff, or Copy of Krieghoff, Rip Off of Krieghoff, or False Krieghoff, Direct from Hong Kong Krieghoff, or Fooled You With This Krieghoff, because there is no money to be got for any of those.
Shifty-eyed Staff - The auctioneer or support staff are very evasive about what the painting really is, when it was painted, and by whom. And whether the painting is really by Krieghoff or started by him and finished by a student, or whether that is even his signature. If, when you ask them for the life history of the painting - provenance - they start looking sternly at you, as if they have spotted some dandruff on your collar, consider that a tell-tale warning.
No Provenance - The forgery stands out with great starkness in the catalogue, because, while art auctioneers print endless listings of previous owners, or expert writings, about a real Krieghoff, and pomposit interminably about the paper trail testifying to its genuine tie to the hand of Krieghoff, they publish nothing - zits - about the fake they list right beside the genuine one.
Private Collection - Sometimes they will list Private Collection, Toronto. This is the most common cover for an art dealer/forger in big bad Toronto, who has dozens of fake canvases ready to go from his private stash beside the furnace room in his basement apartment in Parkdale.
Gentleman from Toronto: Auction houses are often absolutely secretive about where their paintings come from, often saying the painting as coming from A Gentleman from Toronto.
As most people know, there is no such animal, at least not in the art world.
|Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005|