The world's most expensive fake?

September 19 2011

Image of The world's most expensive fake?

Picture: People's Daily

The above picture sold in June last year for $11.25 million in Beijing as a work by Chinese artist Xu Beihong (1895-1953). It had been authenticated by his son, above. However, a group of students has now come forward to say that it was painted by a classmate, in 1983. 

Given the stratospheric prices for Chinese art at the moment, I wouldn't be surprised if the market is riddled with similar fakes. But the most interesting fact seems to be that in China, the auction house faces no liability should it sell a fake:

Zhao Li, director of Chinese Modern & Contemporary Art Document Research Center, told the Global Times that mistakes can be made when identifying and evaluating art works, but that the crucial problem was the lack of an official authority to certify the authenticity of any artwork. 

"There is no strict and standardized assessment mechanism for art appraisal in China. Once a work is discovered to be fake, there is no regulation to stipulate which party should shoulder the responsibility and face punishment," Zhao said. 

According to the country's Auction Law, auctioneers are not allowed to promise the authenticity or the quality of the products, which is believed to exempt auction companies from taking the blame.

Caveat emptor...

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