Museum of counterfeit art

The Museu del Falso at the University of Salerno in Southern Italy showcases counterfeit artworks, including nearly perfect forgeries of Warhol, Mario Schifano, and other high-priced artists. The museum's supplier is the Carabinieri, the country's military police, who have collected more than 60,000 fakes in raids across the country over the last few years. From Smitsonian:
 Images Museumfake-1 (Salvatore) Casillo, the museum’s director, is an author and sociologist who has spent 20 years studying counterfeits of all kinds. The museum’s mission is "to analyze the evolution of forgery, from technique to organization," he says, "and to give visitors the opportunity to see firsthand how the counterfeiters carry out their deception."

Unlike the works that hang on its walls, the Museum of Fakes resembles no other. Located in the basement of a university building, it is both storeroom and gallery. Phony Grecian urns line shelves while some paintings are still packed in brown paper (they can't be displayed until courts have dealt with the cases, which can take years). Other objects are filed in metal cabinets or displayed on the walls. Scattered around the place are bundles containing trickster tools of trade: paints, canvases, chemicals, anything used to make the piece look authentic...

In an ironic twist of fate, some master forgers are now getting respect from the art establishment they challenged and, in some cases, convulsed. London's Victoria and Albert Museum has a separate gallery devoted to first-class fakes and forgeries. Other respected museums around the world are giving the counterfeiters–long the object of public fascination–shows of their own.


  1. That’s not the real museum of fake art. That’s a cleverly designed facsimile whose purpose is to fool you into thinking it’s the museum of fake art. Those aren’t real fakes. They’re fake fakes. Which means they’re real. Those guys are loaded!

  2. Love this story! Here’s more on the subject – In 1988 The Hitler Diaries forger Konrad Kujau, after being released from four years of prison, opened a gallery in Stuttgart where he sold “authentic fakes”. Authentic fakes – don’t you love it? These included not only forgeries of Hitler’s paintings, but also reproductions of Dalis, Monets, Rembrandts, and Van Goghs. He signed each painting with both his own name and that of the original artist. Many of these “authentic fakes” sold for tens of thousands of marks. In fact, his work became so popular that other forgers began to create forged copies of Kujau’s forgeries.
    It gets better. When Kujau died in 2000, his great-niece, Petra Kujau, was subsequently charged with selling hundreds of fakes of his fakes. Turns out she was buying oil paintings from Asia for as little as 10 euros apiece, write Kujau’s signature on them, and flogging them off for up to 3,500 euros! ha ha ha. More here – Forgeries of Forgeries

  3. Ye gods – flying penis, art forgery semantics – what’ll the Schroedinger’s Cat Trilogy trifecta story be?

  4. Old story I think I heard in art school:

    Pablo Picasso had a friend who was an art collector and dealer. This guy asked Picasso to go through his collection and separate out the fakes and forgeries from the real Picasso paintings.

    So there’s Picasso, going through all these paintings — “real, real, fake, real, that’s fake, that one too, that’s a real one, fake, fake” — when his friend interrupts him. “Wait, Pablo, that one’s not fake; I saw you paint it with my own eyes!”

    Picasso says “What, I can fake a Picasso as well as anyone else!”

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