BY NEW YORK TIMES article on art fraud. Think BANKS and DEVELOPERS etc when reading article. I’ve surmised some of its points.
#The British prosecution office declared Drewe a menace to Britain’s cultural patrimony.
#The scandal has not only upset the market for the artists Myatt forged, but it has also exposed the art industry as its own worst enemy — too reliant on sources of authenticity that are vulnerable to manipulation and riddled with conflicts of interest that invite corruption. Drewe’s story says less about his own brilliance than about the readiness — if not the willingness — of the art world to be deceived.
#”What distinguishes this case is how methodical Drewe was, and how well he understood the process of validation. His manipulation of the system is as interesting and troubling as the forgeries themselves.”
#”I was flattered into thinking I was a man of importance,” he concedes he had an ”abiding sense of unreality, that this wasn’t really happening, that this would all end in tears.”
#”There is the line that modern art pretends to be things it’s not,” says Sandy Nairne, director of national programs for the Tate Gallery. ”There is a crossover between the way Drewe perpetrated a con with the cultural view that modern art may be viewed as a con on the public.” There is a sense, Nairne says, in which Drewe was simply ”making up modern art.”
#A forger’s chief motivation is typically intellectual gamesmanship. Embittered by the spurning of his own work, he takes satisfaction in suckering the entire art world en masse, then pulling aside the curtain, exposing himself as a renegade genius and the art experts as the frauds and fools.
#I had no idea what a false provenance meant.” Stoakes pauses, then concedes his own gullibility. ”I wanted to believe him. He was a male friend who was going through what I was going through. He sussed out what my weakness was, both with the romance and the possibility of making money. But it was the idea of a very old friend in a friendless world.”
#It is the provenancing that distinguishes Drewe’s scam. ”People don’t think a forger is going to go to such great lengths,” Bevan says. ”This was a full-time job. Drewe chatted up the families of the artists to find out their domestic details, their love lives, so he could write antique letters — from de Stal to his lady friend, for instance, in 1950 — as part of the provenance.” Alan Bowness, former head of the Tate and the son-in-law of Ben Nicholson, was fooled into authenticating two of Myatt’s fake Nicholsons, not because the pictures were good — in fact, the general consensus was that they were unimpressive at best — but because the provenancing was flawless.
#’The auction houses get stung from time to time because of the volume they deal with,” Hoving says. ”In general, they simply don’t have the time to confirm the authenticity of everything. The amount of things they deal with is awesome.”
#Those paintings, too, had come with convincing documentation, including, according to Nahum, supporting letters from Alan Bowness, the world’s top Nicholson expert. In flusher times, provenance is often checked more thoroughly. But, compromised by the necessity to move product, experts sometimes can’t afford to look too hard; thus, the poisonous combination of raw commercialism and the desire for discovery.
#”When a forger is as successful as Drewe was, it’s not one person who’s corrupt, it’s not one dealer. It’s a whole system that has failed. A lot of checks and balances that should have connected, didn’t.”
#Myatt had also become repulsed by how Drewe preyed on the vulnerable, the dead and the dimly acquainted to concoct art owners. Drewe had used Myatt’s dying father’s name on some of his fake provenances; he had done the same with Stoakes’s. He had even cannibalized portions of his own mother’s will.
#”all-consuming drive to pull the strings — hence his title ‘puppet master’ — has left him unable to live outside his own version of reality,” says Detective Constable Inspector Miki Volpe, a 22-year veteran. ”He’s a verbal bully who thinks he can manipulate anyone. As you start to learn more about this man, you realize the enormous web of deception he has spun. . . . He was certainly the most devious character I had ever come into contact with in my service.” Drewe was released on bail and immediately disappeared.