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The Real Deal on Fake Art
CNBC.com | March 12, 2012 | 03:31 PM EDT

Imagine a Picasso hanging on a wall in your home. The painting was appraised at $58,000, but you bought it for $6,000. A proud owner of a masterpiece, you’re probably thinking you got a deal of a lifetime. But what if it’s a fake?

The world of fraudulent art is growing quickly, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. People are also becoming more sophisticated in the way they forge art and the way they sell it, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In a troubled economy, traditional investments don't do as well, so many look to art as a stable investment. In turn, scammers try to lure potential buyers, opening the door for more fraud.

Business is good for Emmanuel Benador, a third-generation art dealer who now consults for the FBI. For more than 18 years he was director of the Jan Krugier Gallery, which held one of the largest Picasso collections in the world.

“In matters of fakes, I see them almost every week,” Benador said. "The most commonly forged artists are Picasso, Chagall, Miro, Matisse, Giacometti, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Marino Marini."For someone shopping for fine art, he recommends taking a few precautions before handing over your money.

First, don’t get taken in by a "bargain."

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