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I have never claimed to be a fan of modern art, by any stretch of the imagination. I have always found modern art a little too austere and confusing, and involving a lot of obfuscation to cloud a simple piece in an aura of mystery. I mean, half the time it really can look like it was painted by a five year old.

Or a family of art forgers for that matter.

Two weeks ago several articles ran about the Chernov family in Russia, who have been running an elaborate forgery scam for years (most of the articles are rather brief, but here’s a good link to start with). The twin brothers would forge paintings from the Russian Avant-Garde movement (most notably Malevich), while one their daughter’s acted as the seller and agent. They used a classic back story of an ailing and eccentric millionaire far away (Uzbekistan to be precise) and managed to successfully sell over 800 paintings before they were caught.

Nowadays one is unlikely to find contemporary forgeries of Old Masters for example, as the science to detect any inconsistencies has become too advanced.  This is why you are far more likely to find current forgeries of twentieth century art or later, because it has two advantages:

1) Many of the materials that the original artist used are still available

2) The paintings are so simple in design that it makes them easy to replicate


(See what I mean?  I’ve seen videos of elephants paint more complicated designs than this.)

Malevich, Black Square on a White Ground, 1915.  State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow       (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

One of the brothers died before he could be sentenced, but the other brother will serve four years in prison and his daughter Dina will serve two.