|The forger of this fake Rothko only received|
about 1/1,000th of the $8.3 million it sold for
For 15 years, some of the art world’s most established dealers and experts rhapsodized about dozens of newly discovered masterworks by titans of Modernism. Elite buyers paid up to $17 million to own just one of these canvases, said to have been created by the hands of artists like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell.
But federal prosecutors say that most, if not all, of the 63 ballyhooed works — which fetched more than $80 million in sales — were painted in a home and garage in Queens by one unusually talented but unknown artist who was paid only a few thousand dollars apiece for his handiworks.
Authorities did not name or charge the painter and provided few identifying details except to say he had trained at a Manhattan art school in a variety of disciplines including painting, drawing and lithography. He was selling his work on the streets of New York in the early 1990s, they said, when he was spotted by a Chelsea art dealer who helped convert his work into one of the most audacious art frauds in recent memory.
It sounds like the poor forger got less than 1% of the proceeds, while the middle-woman that discovered him made $12.5 million and the two galleries made much more than that.
That's the real scandal. In the art forgery business, it's obviously not what you know, it's who you know.