Eliza Daly | Will the Real Mona Lisa Please Smile?
March 27, 2013
I've always been passionate about art and intrigued by art forgery. I decided to
put years of study and research to good use by including both in my romantic
CRISIS. As a writer, it's great to be able to incorporate a personal
interest into a novel. One item on my bucket list is to visit the top ten art
museums in the world. I have six down and four to go.
The first time I admired the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, I couldn't
believe how small the painting is for being the most famous painting in history.
But like everyone, I was curious about her enigmatic smile and I wondered what
she was thinking while posing for Leonardo da Vinci. What I didn't wonder was,
Is this painting real? The painting was stolen in 1911 and was found two
years later, which has caused some debate over the years as to whether the
original or a forgery was returned to the museum.
It's estimated that 20-25 percent of all artwork in museums are forgeries.
Thomas Hoving, a former director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,
stated that 40 percent of the artwork he considered for the museum was
fraudulent. How can this be? Why aren't art experts frantically trying to put a
stop to forgeries? First, it's an overwhelming task with millions of forgeries
circulating worldwide. Second, dealers, sellers, and buyers don't want to reveal
their gullibility if they purchased a forgery. Their reputation and careers are
on the line and they could lose donors and clients. And what if they accused a
genuine work of art as being a fake? Third, it takes a lot of time and research
to authenticate a painting.
How can so many forgeries exist? In Thomas Hoving's book, FALSE IMPRESSIONS, THE HUNT
FOR BIG-TIME ART FAKES, he talks about knowing a forger who revealed that a
Renoir landscape took him a mere two hours to paint. A Cezanne still life, three
or four hours. A Monet was the hardest to forge. He called the painter a genius
when it came to subtle color and lights, and that he far surpassed his
colleagues. This forger's paintings are hanging on collectors' walls worldwide.
Painters would turn over in their graves if they knew how many forgeries of
their artwork existed. Or would they?
Picasso admitted he would sign a very good forgery. The French landscape painter
Camille Corot signed copies of his paintings because he felt honored to be
copied and to help poor artists sell their work. He also gave his paintings to
artists so they could study his style and technique, which were easy to emulate.
It is said that Corot created 800 paintings in his lifetime, of which 4,000
ended up in U.S. collections. There are many variations of this joke, but Corot
is believed to have created over 3,000 paintings and it's estimated that over
100,000 fakes exist. The majority of experts agree that he is the most forged
artist in history. So be careful if you are purchasing a Corot. Besides the
artists, their families often perpetuated the production of forgeries. The
widows of Modigliani and Chagall were accused of selling certificates of
authentication on forged works of their husbands.
If so many experts turn a blind eye on forgeries, do forgers ever get caught?
Periodically. One of the most recent cases was John Drewe, who altered
provenances and documents in high security archives, like the Tate Museum's in
London. Of the 200 forgeries Drewe sold for approximately $2.6 million, only 73
had been recovered at the time of his sentencing in 1999. Drewe served merely
two years in prison and his forger John Myatt served four months. So really,
what does a forger have to lose? A year of his life if he gets caught, but upon
being released from prison he has millions in his Swiss bank account. Art
forgery and theft obviously aren't a high priority for authorities, despite the
fact that art crime is the third-highest grossing criminal trade worldwide and
it's linked to organized crime and terrorism.
Even if I had the funds, I wouldn't be rushing out to buy a Monet. At least I
know the Monets and VanGoghs hanging on my walls are worth the money I paid at
Giveaway—Thank you so much to Fresh Fiction for having me
here today and helping me celebrate the release of IDENTITY CRISIS. I will be
giving away a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to one
commenter. To enter to win, please leave a meaningful comment or question about
my post. The winner will be announced April 1. Thank you for stopping by!
Buy IDENTITY CRISIS
online at: Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | All Romance.
93 comments posted.
Re: Eliza Daly | Will the Real Mona Lisa Please Smile?
Yes, Art Museums are fascinating and your book IDENTITY
CRISIS sounds like a fascinating book to read and win too.
Thanks for the fantastic contest. Thanks, Cecilia CECE
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 12:29pm March 27, 2013)
would love to know when you started writing? Do you have a special spot to write - or just your office?
(Michelle Schafer 1:57am March 27, 2013)
Very interesting blog Eliza! I never imagined that so many works of art hanging in an art museum could possibly be forgeries! I read Identity Crisis and loved it!
(Sandra Watson 9:28am March 27, 2013)
I agree. I remember going to the Louve and amazed at how small the Mona Lisa was. Didn't know about the theft until you mentioned it though!
(May Pau 9:34am March 27, 2013)
Wow - you've really given me a lot of "food for thought" - or "art for thought" - and I thank you. Your book sounds wonderful. thanks for the chance to win a copy. Best of luck with it.
(Nancy Reynolds 10:04am March 27, 2013)
The Louvre experience must have been memorable. the art world
is fascinating and has to deal with the forgeries and
(Sharon Berger 10:20am March 27, 2013)
Have you seen White Collar? It is a wonderful show about a
former art theif/forger who is now working with the FBI to
(Karin Anderson 10:32am March 27, 2013)
Thank you so much to Fresh Fiction for having me here today
and thanks to everyone who is stopping by!
Michelle--I've been writing for 13 years. I also write
romantic comedy and women's fiction. Just write in my
office. It's very inspirational with it's fuchsia walls.
Sandra--Thanks so much for reading Identity Crisis and I'm
glad you enjoyed it!
Karin--I have seen White Collar several times. Don't catch
it regularly, but fairly often. I like Neal. :-)
(Eliza Daly 10:41am March 27, 2013)
I recently saw a forger on tv being interviewed and tested. I was amazed at their talent to create in their portfolio everything from DaVinci to Dali, to recreate the signatures and see other forgeries for what they were. You would think that they would have talent to create and design their own works and leave something original behind. I know the artists I buy from.
(Carla Carlson 11:23am March 27, 2013)
What an interesting post! It is amazing how many art collectors, even art experts, have been deceived by a forgery.
Thanks for sharing the info and congratulations on the release of Identity Crisis.
(Bonnie Hometchko 11:24am March 27, 2013)
This sounds like a great book. I love art, but don't know much about it. I know the basics and the big artists.
My question for you is: What is your favorite genre to write? To read? Thanks for the chance to win.
(Chris Bails 11:52am March 27, 2013)
Carla--I know, it's kind of crazy isn't it? Probably like a
writer, it takes an artist so many years, and big breaks, to
make money off of their own work that a forger would rather
make big bucks off of forgeries. And they may never get
recognition for their own works. So many forgers become
famous from their forgeries that museums are opened with
their works. I've read quite a few books by forgers and
their motivations are diverse. Thanks for the comment!
Chris--I write mainly romantic comedy and women's fiction,
but I've done years of research on forgery and the Witness
Protection Program that I decided to put it to good use and
write a romantic suspense.
Everyone--Thanks so much for all the great comments and for
(Eliza Daly 12:23pm March 27, 2013)
I had no idea that there was so much fraud in the art museum world---I thought it was mostly in TV shows!!
(Sue Farrell 1:07pm March 27, 2013)
Thank you for your post and giveaway, Eliza. Fascinating topic. Plenty of ideas for other writers.
Got a few questions for you. If Corot is the easiest target of art forgers, who's the hardest? Just what makes a particular artist---that is, his/her works---easy or difficult to forge?
Good luck with the release of "Identity Crisis"!
(Mary Anne Landers 1:27pm March 27, 2013)
I think when a forger is caught they should serve a very long sentence. You are so lucky to have gone to the Louvre, I'm jealous.
(Rita Wray 1:35pm March 27, 2013)
I was amazed to read about how prevalent forgeries are, had
(G. Bisbjerg 1:58pm March 27, 2013)
I am so happy to have a copy of this book... I am truly looking forward to reading as soon as possible! Congrats on your book!
(Colleen Conklin 1:58pm March 27, 2013)
it certainly is a lot easier to copy something than to create
it in the first place, tho I understand there are minute
differences that are detectable (most of the time). I just
want to enjoy the art.
(Diane Sallans 2:06pm March 27, 2013)
I've been fascinated by this subject, too! I have a Georgia
O'Keefe and a Monet on my walls... Both prints, alas. I'm
looking forward to reading what you did with this on Identity
(Edie Ramer 2:35pm March 27, 2013)
I vividly remember the first time I saw a real Rembrandt.
(Shannon Scott 3:23pm March 27, 2013)
Mary Anne--Great question, who's the hardest artist to
forge. I'm always talking about the easiest ones and the
most forged I need to think on that one a moment.
Colleen--Thanks so much for getting a copy of Identity
Crisis. I hope you enjoy it!
Edie--Thanks for popping by and I hope you enjoy Identity
Thanks again everyone for all the great questions and
(Eliza Daly 3:34pm March 27, 2013)
It's a funny thing, isn't it, that the authentication is more
valuable than the object-- otherwise "forgery" would have no
(Mary Ann Dimand 3:51pm March 27, 2013)
Good point. I'm satisfied with the art prints we bought at the VanGogh Museum in Amsterdam several years ago. I'd hate to think of paying for an original anything and getting a fake! Congrats on your book.
(G S Moch 3:58pm March 27, 2013)
I've never been to an art museum,but,one day, I should. It would make for an interesting outing.
(Terri Quick 4:25pm March 27, 2013)
Congratulations on your book! I like the "blurb"; very intriguing. Makes one think, "what if...." So many possibilities.
(Elaine Seymour 4:30pm March 27, 2013)
Great topic! I look forward to reading your book - seeing a work of art you have seen in books is truly thrilling - I wonder if the same applies to sculptures as well as paintings?
(Kathy Martocci 5:23pm March 27, 2013)
I enjoyed reading your post today about art forgeries, especially everything about Corot. I found this very interesting. There probably have been some that have found what they thought was of great value, wasn't, when they chose to sell their artwork.
(Rich Cook 6:17pm March 27, 2013)
Thanks for your post. Book sounds interesting. Thanks for a chance to win.
(Linda Hall 6:36pm March 27, 2013)
I like to copy some art works, with my own little twist and style. Happy Bunny Day.
(Deb Pelletier 7:32pm March 27, 2013)
Haven't been to any art museums, but really enjoyed getting some insight about art forgeries. Sounds like a very great book! My oldest son had his pottery artwork displayed at a large art museum in Milwaukee, WI when he was in high school. He did many paintings, pottery, jewelry, etc. He went on to become a successful landscape designer.
(Linda Luinstra 7:39pm March 27, 2013)
If money were no object, I still think that I would stay away from buying Artwork from the "greats" to hang on my walls, as much as I enjoy looking at it. I found your posting to be both shocking, as well as informative. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that so many people would attempt to go after these beautiful creations, and why they would go after them is anyone's guess. They are well-known to the public, and anyone could turn them in once they're spotted on their wall. I'm anxious to read your book, and get a little bit of romance, along with some added insight!! Congratulations!!
(Peggy Roberson 8:38pm March 27, 2013)
What an interesting blog!
(Cheryl McEwen 9:16pm March 27, 2013)
I love the lesson about arts forgeries. It is so interesting just to learn the techniques to identify forgeries and to develop the eye to know what to look for. It would so neat just to do that.
(Kai Wong 9:21pm March 27, 2013)
I find it hard to believe that many folks can successfully duplicate a great painting. It would seem to me that an artist's technigue would show. Maybe I am wrong.
(Gladys Paradowski 9:53pm March 27, 2013)
love stories about great art.
(Debby Creager 12:09pm March 28, 2013)
It just goes to show you that wherever there is money people will find a way to get it. It amazes me the amount of money people will pay for art but put the possibility of a forgery into the mix and that's just scary!
(Tracie Travis 12:48pm March 28, 2013)
The forgeries are like a work of art in themselves if they are able to pass the
inspection of experts. lol. Not saying they are acceptable. Thanks for this
opportunity to win your contest!
(Hyunjin Jeon 2:51am March 28, 2013)
sounds like a great story :)
(Lizz Comer 7:14am March 28, 2013)
I had no idea that forgeries were so prevalent. I'd want to
ensure a painting was genuine before I parted with my money.
(Mary Preston 8:26am March 28, 2013)
I just have to ask, which of the top ten art museums in the world do you still need to visit? (Obviously, The Louvre is #1, even I've heard of it!) LOL Thanks!
(Angela Hoagland 11:44am March 28, 2013)
I enjoy all forms of art. Can look at painting for hours.
(Lisa Fitzgibbons 12:15pm March 28, 2013)
Angela--I have visited The Louvre in Paris, The Vatican
Museum in Rome, The Musee d'Orsay in Paris, The Metropolitan
in NYC, Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Gallery
of Art in DC. The Prado in Madrid, I've been there but it
was a quick trip through so that one is borderline. I have
yet to visit the Tate in London, the Uffizi in Florence, and
the Getty in LA.
Thanks for the great question!
(Eliza Daly 1:12pm March 28, 2013)
Thank you so much for an insightful post.
Its precise,informative,and eyecatching.
Also,Congrats on the release of " Identity Crisis "
From the looks of it,its going to be a sure winner :)
Thank you for the giveaway too
(Sydney W 1:45pm March 28, 2013)
Wow. This was a really fascinating article. I didn't know there were so many forgeries in the art world.
(Pam Howell 1:51pm March 28, 2013)
What an interesting post. It is hard to believe that 20-25 percent of all artwork handing in museums are forgeries. I thought that most forgers were caught but I learned something today.
(Kathleen Yohanna 2:43pm March 28, 2013)
I remember reading about how there are just as many authentic pieces that were mistakenly declared forgeries! And that it takes someone extremely high in the field to "overturn" the original pronouncement.
(Kathleen Conner 3:43pm March 28, 2013)
I don't know much about the art world, but it's certainly fascinating. I learned a lot just from reading your book, Identity Crisis! Great blog post!
(Laura Iding 3:51pm March 28, 2013)
It's sad that many of the art programs are being cut in the schools due to budget restraints. Maybe art can't be taught....its a natural ability ~ you are either born with it or without it. And,how about all the famous works that have been found at yardsales for a couple of bucks ~ isn't it worth it to look?
(Susan Coster 4:21pm March 28, 2013)
I have Starry Night on my bedroom wall. I think that original art has so much more impact than prints. But I would not spend millions to have the original on my bedroom wall. However, I do admire what J. Paul Getty did with his money. The Getty Museums are a wonderful and a truly great gift to us.
(Phyllis Lamken 4:47pm March 28, 2013)
What a fascinating post. I never knew that many forgeries were in museums, and I was floored to hear that Picasso even signed 'good' forgeries.
(Marcy Shuler 5:00pm March 28, 2013)
I have little knowledge of artwork, but I love to go to museums and look. I try to imagine the world these artists lived in as well as those they captured in paint or clay or stone. Forgeries? I would never be able to tell the difference and can never imagine how anyone would be able to tell the differnece ... especially if the artists are willing to sign forgeries. Lazy or cunning artists??
(Annetta Sweetko 6:01pm March 28, 2013)
A MUST READ!
(Christine Didyk 9:51pm March 28, 2013)
I never really thought about how many forgeries are out there. I wouldn't be able to afford any originals for myself anyhow. But it is pretty impressive how skilled an artist must be to be able to forge someone else's work just not imaginative.
(Tiffany Gronn 10:42pm March 28, 2013)
Good copies make it possible for low-income art lovers like me to enjoy great paintings, but I rseriously protest to true fakes. I have more respect for an honest imitation and won't hesitate to buy one that appeals to me.
(Donna Holmberg 11:00pm March 28, 2013)
Thanks for all the great comments. I love reading everyone's
thoughts on my post. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!
(Eliza Daly 11:09pm March 28, 2013)
what a wonderful experience the Louvre must have been! I hope to get there someday myself. Someday!!
(Michelle Schafer 3:30am March 29, 2013)
Wouldn't it be great to find a masterpiece at a garage sale though! ;)
(Diane Pollock 3:42am March 29, 2013)
An interesting fact about the Mona Lisa. First time I saw her,
like 20 years ago, you could walk up to the painting and get
real close to it. When I went back again I found she had a new
home, in a special display case and you can't get within like
6 feet of her now. For security purposes, but too bad.
(Eliza Daly 8:13am March 29, 2013)
I'm not a art enthusiast but would love to read your book.
(Gloria Walshver 12:29pm March 29, 2013)
I was an art major in college. We used to take trips to museums to sketch and I remember thinking at that time that it would be so simple to create fakes by creating 'studies' of know works. As long as you could perfect the technique and had access to materials from the proper period, or could fabricate them also. I can't imagine that records were kept of studies and surely there are many early works that have not been documented.
(Irene Menge 12:53pm March 29, 2013)
A good forgery is hard for laypeople to tell from a fake.
And even some experts argue about what's expected from an
artist, so sometimes the field is murky. I believe that if
an artist signs a forgery, they're complicit in a crime and
make the art world poorer for their lack in judgment.
(Alyson Widen 4:53pm March 29, 2013)
Sounds like a great book with a morale! Thanks.
(Dianne McVetty 8:59pm March 29, 2013)
Thank you for the interesting blog. I've also seen the Mona Lisa. I was as stunned as you were at how small the painting was. I never thought about the fact that it could be a forgery.
(Sally Baldwin 8:29am March 30, 2013)
your new book looks great.
(Kent Cook 8:50am March 30, 2013)
Thanks for an interesting blob. I am only interested in
seeing art for the pleasure...it's value isn't in the real or
fake. The book looks "real"!
(Mary Hay 8:54am March 30, 2013)
Interesting subject. I like to appreciate the beauty of art without thinking too much about who actually painted it. :) I learned a lot from your post..I had no idea there were so many forgeries.
(Kirsten Kimball 9:16am March 30, 2013)
Very interesting. They say you learn something everyday and I did right now.
(Cathy Thomas 9:47am March 30, 2013)
Wow -- it seems like an almost unbelievable statistic that 20-25 percent of all artwork in museums are forgeries!! I'll remember this the next time I'm in a museum......very interesting!
(Jill Miller 10:02am March 30, 2013)
it is a book that is relevant..amazing....
(Mal Kaplan 10:13am March 30, 2013)
This sounds like a really good book.
(Marlene Howard 10:54am March 30, 2013)
NOW I HAVE HAD TO ADD another n=book to my to read list. thanks
(Debbi Shaw 12:05pm March 30, 2013)
I've never been to an art museum. I guess it would make for an interesting outing.
(Terri Quick 12:49pm March 30, 2013)
Really enjoyed your post I love museums art,science ,history
they are all fascinating .Thank you for sharing with us today
.Have a wonderful weekend
(Wanda Flanagan 4:34pm March 30, 2013)
Interesting that it is estimated that 20-25 percent of all artwork in museums are forgeries and to think we pay the museum prices to see these forgeries, but it does make an interesting day out
(Dwight Younger 4:38pm March 30, 2013)
I love the Mona Lisa; it is so intriguing.
(Mary Smith 7:35pm March 30, 2013)
You are a new author to me. I will check out your books. During my senior year the French club went to Paris and I saw the Mona Lisa, and other hightlights of the Louvre. Any city I go to I always try to visit at least one museum.
(Terri Poindexter 12:57pm March 31, 2013)
Your book sounds very interesting. I love going toart galleries when I travel
but must admit I enjoy but am not very knowledgeable about art. Good luck
with your book.
(Liesl Lane 4:44pm March 31, 2013)
Hope I win!
(Ted Zeilstra 9:00pm March 31, 2013)
I think reading your book would open my eyes to the world of art and art forgeries. This sounds great.
(Renee Grandinetti 9:05pm March 31, 2013)
Can't wait to read your book...I love museums!!
(Bonnie Capuano 11:41am April 1, 2013)
I use to wonder why such great forgers didn't create their own art. It's sad, but I guess they can earn a fortune copying great art work.
(Anna Speed 11:57am April 1, 2013)
Thanks again everyone for stopping by and commenting on my
post. I am in awe at the number of wonderful comments people
left and I really enjoyed reading them all. I had a great time
here at Fresh Fiction! Thanks so much!
(Eliza Daly 12:23pm April 1, 2013)
Sounds like a wonderful concept! I'm not an art afficianado, but I am an avid reader...all stories welcome :)
(Jackie Pressley 2:47pm April 1, 2013)
I love reading about art and I love mysteries so I KNOW I will
love this book!
(Debra Kelley 5:48pm April 1, 2013)
Thanks for the excellent writing. I love pretty much all books.
(Jennifer Martens 6:32pm April 1, 2013)
I live on Long Island, so it is a relatively short ride to
NYC. I have been to MOMA & The Met. Also went to the
Guggenheim for a fashion exhibit. I think Monet is my
favorite painter, but we went to a Van Gogh exhibit at MOMA
& that was great, too! Interesting about the forgeries. I am
sure I wouldn't be able to tell!
(Sharlene Wegner 6:37pm April 1, 2013)
This sounds really good and I know it will end happily I have never been to
a museum but one day I hope to go to one
(Ava Curtis 8:11pm April 1, 2013)
I love White Collar, very cool show with a unique story line.
(Mary Lynn Hayes 8:28pm April 1, 2013)
Major art theft always baffles me. Anyone who would buy a piece of art that they know is stolen and then they can't share it with anyone becuase it's STOLEN...well they are just too self important. I have never seen White Collar. The ads just never hooked me.
(Jennifer Beyer 9:39pm April 1, 2013)
I like art. I like to look at it, imagine what went through the mind of the artist while painting it- but I have no desire to own any of it. I like the fact that it hangs for everyone in the world to see.
(Chelsea Brooks 10:29pm April 1, 2013)
sounds like a grat book to read
(Ann Unger 11:02pm April 1, 2013)
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