Forgery is always a hot-button word in the art world, but with the rise of online shopping, the issue has intensified greatly. In recent years, the art market has expanded beyond its original exclusivity with the rise of the Internet. Sites like eBay provide shoppers with a bazaar-like experience where they can find works by the great masters at unbeatable prices. Original Rembrandts start around $900, while you can buy a Picasso for as low as $450, although Sotheby’s commands a price of more than $100 million for one. Forgery is proliferating.
Among one of the most forged artists is 20th-century art titan Alberto Giacometti. Since his work consistently commands top market prices, it is vulnerable to illegal copying. In 2009, one of the largest Giacometti counterfeiting rings was broken by police in Germany, where more than 1,000 fake Giacometti sculptures and authenticity documents were seized. This type of organized counterfeiting is not likely to stop, as prices for Giacometti’s artworks continue to rise. In 2010, “Walking Man I” sold for $104.3 million at Sotheby’s in London.
On September 27 at 6 p.m. at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (a Knight Arts grantee), Véronique Weisinger, senior curator of the French National Museums and director of the Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation, will present a lecture on this growing problem: “Alberto Giacometti and the Curse of Art Forgery.” This lecture is presented in conjunction with “Giacometti: Memory and Presence,” the exhibition on view at the Bechtler until February 8, 2013. The rarely displayed Giacometti plasters that are part of the exhibition are on loan from the Foundation in Paris.
Tickets for the lecture are free for Bechtler Museum members and $10 for non-members. Reserve your ticket online or by phone at 704-353-9200.
Weisinger has directed the Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation since its beginning in 2003, and she has curated two retrospectives of Giacometti’s work. Furthermore, several of her books explore the link between the economic environment and the production of artworks. Her lecture on art forgery will certainly be timely, as the Giacometti Foundation—along with the Picasso Estate, Yves Klein Archives, the Le Corbusier Foundation and the Hartung Bergman Foundation—recently formed an association to protect the rights of their foundations and to fight against counterfeiting and fraud. The International Union of Modern and Contemporary Masters was formed this past April.
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art: 420 South Tryon St., Charlotte; 704-353-9200; http://www.bechtler.org. Hours: Mon., 10-5 p.m.; Tues., closed; Wed.-Sat., 10-5 p.m.; Sun., 12-5 p.m. Admission: $8.