Caveat Emptor, Dude
I’M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR IDEAS. I have so few of my own that I am constantly scouting for the quirky, arcane, and “Gee Whiz” things outside of my own experience. It is a big world and, at any given time, half of the eight billion people on Earth are awake and up to something.
For the last week or so my wife, the lovely and universally interesting, Dawn, and I have been doing a bit of Binge Watching.
While Channel Surfing late one evening as she was looking for something more interesting than whether or not some young singer does indeed have “Talent,” and can scream louder than the next young singer, Dawn bumped into a BBC series called “Fake or Fortune.”
In a nutshell, “Fake or Fortune” is about the World of Art Dealers, Art Lovers, and Art Forgery. Is that painting on your wall or the Museum’s wall a real Renoir or Cezanne – or was it painted by someone who paints better than me and who is seriously Larcenous.
In the rarified atmosphere of the Art World populated by cultured accents and petty greed the amount of Fraud is incredible. The estimate is that more than 50% of those beautiful and valued paintings gracing the walls in Museums and Mansions around the world – are FAKE.
Talented artists who aren’t getting the big bucks and recognition for their own work can and do create canvases that are so good that they can, and do, fool all of the experts in the world. Is that Claude Monet painting really by him? It looks good. It looked good at the Sotheby Auction House in New York where it sold for more than $20,000,000. Who did paint it? Nobody knows, but there are fake Monets popping up in museums and auctions around the world. Claude Monet died in 1926, but it seems that his spirit lingers on.
On “Fake or Fortune” a team of Art Dealers, a BBC Journalist, and a collection of scientists who can look into the molecular structure of a painting. With X-Ray and Microscopic Chemical Analysis they can almost tell you what the painter had for lunch.
The key word in determining whether that Van Gogh is real or not is “Provenance.” That five dollar word means “Who owned it and when,” and then “Prove it!” Bills of Sale, Exhibition Catalogs, and other verifiable documents are like gold. People love a paper trail. Of course, it is not unusual for fake Provenance to be presented as real.
“Fake or Fortune unfolds like a combination of “Sherlock Holmes,” “Quicy M.E.”, with a dash of “Mythbusters” for good luck.
When tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars are riding on the outcome the hosts of “Fake or Fortune” jet around the world trying to verify the history of a painting.
Is that Rembrandt masterpiece really a Rembrandt…or was it done last week by an unhappy artist with the rent coming due?
One season of the show is on Netflix with a number of additional seasons are stacked up on You Tube.
Tune in and find out.