Out of 21 paintings by Amedeo Modigliani that dazzled the viewers on view in the Italian city of Genoa last year, as many as 20 have now been declared fake!
Seen by more than 100,000 people in an exhibition at Palazzo Ducale between March and July 2017, the artworks may now be destroyed.
Suspicions of the forgeries had been raised by an art expert from Tuscany and handed over to the authorities a few days before the official closing of the show, raising a worrying question about exactly how many paintings are wrongly considered to be Modigliani’s.
On July 13th, 2017, the foundation sponsoring the Modlgilani show decided to shut it down, after allegations of a possible fraud came in.
The first to suspect it was Carlo Pepi, an 80-year-old Tuscan art critic and collector, who managed to recognize the artworks’ ”missing soul”.
His calls for an investigation began prior to the Genoa exhibition opening, after he saw a poster featuring a reprint of the 1918 oil painting Marie, daughter of the people.
”My goodness, when I saw the poster of Marie and then looked through the catalogue and saw the others, I thought, poor Modigliani, to attribute to him these ugly abominations,” Mr. Pepi said to the Telegraph at the time.
After months of study, art historians confirmed that only one of the 21 paintings on display in Genoa was indeed Modigliani’s, as it has a certificate of authenticity from the Italian government and appears to be genuine in their opinion.
Mr. Pepi’s revelation is only the latest event in his decades-long fight against fake Modigliani’s. He believes that most of the forgeries were painted in the 1980s, possibly including the ones from the Genoa show: a portrait of writer and artist Jean Cocteau, a seated nude, a seated woman and a reclining nude, among others.
The frames containing the paintings in Genoa were also from Eastern Europe and the United States, having nothing to do with the artworks themselves in context or historical period, according to Isabella Quattrocchi, a consultant in the investigation.
Marc Restellini, a French expert on Modigliani, also stated that there are ”at least 1000 Modigliani fakes in the world”.It is also believed that the fakes began appearing in the 1920s, shortly after Modigliani’s death.
At least 350 artworks believed to be by Modigliani are in existence today, although it is hard to track them down as the artist often exchanged them for food or drinks in Paris restaurants.
One of the most famous artists of the 20th century, Amedeo Modigliani spent most of his short life in the French capital, where he struggled with bad health and drug and alcohol abuse. He had a hard time selling his paintings to survive and his only exhibition, held in 1917, was raided by the police on the grounds of indecency. He died in 1920, at the age of 35.
His Nu Couche (Reclining Nude) painting sold for $170 million in 2015.
Featured image: Modigliani Painting in an Exhibition in Genova. ANSA, Luca Zennaro. All images used for illustrative purposes only.
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