Exhibition closed because of fakes
Some 21 paintings supposedly by Amedeo Modigliani have been seized; three people are under investigation
22 July, 2017
Authorities in Genoa have seized 21 artworks supposedly authored by Amedeo Modigliani, after suspicions were raised that they were fakes. Earlier this week, the foundation sponsoring the exhibition at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa decided to close the show three days earlier than planned to cooperate with the investigation.
“They did the right thing. This was absolutely shameful,” said Carlo Pepi, the 79-year-old Tuscan art critic and collector who alerted authorities about the suspected fraud.
“A Michelangelo is a Michelangelo. A Picasso is a Picasso. But when a painting is a fake, it is missing its soul, and these were missing that three dimensional elegance of Modigliani - even a child could see these were crude fakes,” he told the Telegraph on Sunday.
Mr Pepi has spent decades battling art fraud. He began publicly expressing doubts about Genoa’s Modigliani exhibit in February, when the palace first began promoting it with 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 has publicly called out suspected fakes before, but this time, exasperated by the large scale of the apparent fraud, he decided to make a formal complaint with the Carabinieri art fraud unit in Rome.
French art historian Marc Restellini, who is founder of the Pinacotheque de Paris and a Modigliani expert, backed him, calling the exhibit “dubious”.
After magistrates received independent confirmation of suspected fraud, the exhibit was shut down three days early.
Three people, including the curator, are under investigation.