Real Fake: The Rise and Fall of Art Scammers 


Forgery is not a new problem but the art world continues to be rocked by forgery scandals. While the tools to detect counterfeit art are getting more sophisticated, so are the con-artists that create them.

Art scams are nothing new, but the modus operandi of art scammers has changed dramatically over the years. In the past, art scammers would create a fake work of art and pass it off as the real thing. These days, art scammers are more likely to buy a genuine work of art and then alter it so that it appears to be a more valuable piece.  This is where provenance, connoisseurship, and forensics come in.

The Most Prolific Art Scammer

Experts study the history of a piece of art to determine whether or not it has been altered. Likewise, by examining the materials and techniques used to create a piece of art, experts can often identify signs of forgery. And finally, by using cutting-edge forensic techniques, experts can sometimes uncover hidden alterations of a work of art. By employing all of these methods, experts have been able to expose many of the most prolific art scams in recent history.

Panel Discussion: Jeff Oppenheim, Colleen Boyle, Margaret Holben Ellis and William Charron

Documentary film director Jeff Oppenheim, Senior VP of Pall Mall Art Advisors, Colleen Boyle, and Director of the Thaw Conservation Center, Margaret Holben Ellis, and Art Litigator and Partner at Pryor Cashman LLP, William Charron, discuss how they applied provenance, connoisseurship and forensics to ferret out works by the most prolific art scammer of the last century as chronicled in the new documentary - Real Fake: The Art, Life & Crimes of Elmyr de Hory.

Watch the official trailer for Real Fake: The Art, Life & Crimes of Elmyr de Hory.

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Margaret Holben Ellis

Margaret Holben Ellis, Eugene Thaw Professor of Paper Conservation; Director, Thaw Conservation Center, The Morgan Library and Museum (part-time); Conservation Consultant, Villa La Pietra
In addition to being the Eugene Thaw Professor of Paper Conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, Margret also serves as Director of the Thaw Conservation Center at the Morgan Library & Museum....

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Colleen Boyle

Colleen Boyle (SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT-NATIONAL SALES DIRECTOR) brings over 20 years of experience in the art and financial world to Pall Mall Art Advisors. A member of the International Society of Appraisers and USPAP compliant, she has valuated art and antiques for corporations, museums and private collectors throughout the United States and provided legal analysis for court cases involving art...

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Jeff Oppenheim

Jeff Oppenheim (WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER) melds a theater and film production background with marketing and PR. He has produced and/or directed 5 documentaries, one narrative feature, numerous short-form commercial projects, and live stream broadcasts most recently for Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors Festival and the Mostly Mozart Series. In addition to his film and TV credits he has...

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William Charron

Partner William Charron is a member of Pryor Cashman’s Litigation, Intellectual Property and Media & Entertainment Groups. He is also co-leader of the firm’s Art Law practice and represents clients in art title and authenticity cases.
Bill’s practice is focused on property rights cases in a number of contexts, including art, intellectual property matters arising under the...

Meet the Expert