Fakes Uncovered in Russia

John Varoli for Bloomberg has the story of this work, sold by Christie’s International for $3 million which may be a fake.  The work, purportedly made to appear as a work by Boris Kustodiev is included in a list of 100 alleged fakes by Russian masters which have been sold over the past decade.

For the past 18 months, Russia’s art market has faced its worst crisis of confidence in the post-Soviet era as five volumes of “The Catalog of Fraudulent Art Works” were published, said dealers. Some experts say that fakes now comprise the majority of artworks they are asked to evaluate. 

“Every month I’m asked to look at 10 paintings and nine are fakes,” said London-based Russian art dealer James Butterwick. “Many Russian collectors buy without asking competent experts. If a work is credible then it has a provenance that can be easily checked out.” 

Prices have also tumbled as the financial crisis cuts collectors’ appetite for art. Combined sales at Russian art auctions in New York at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in April were about 40 percent of the volume sold in 2008.
Rosokhran-Kultura, the government’s cultural watchdog, released the latest issue of the fakes catalog last month. It contained the most expensive item sold at Christie’s November 2005 auction of Russian paintings in London. It was listed as “Odalisque,” painted in 1919 by Kustodiev. 

“There’s no doubt ‘Odalisque’ is a fake, and that’s why we included it,” said the catalogue’s co-author Vladimir Roschin.

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