Forgery Scandal Update: Sotheby’s to investigate potential fake

In an update on the forgery scandal that has shocked the art world, Sotheby’s New York announced that it is investigating a painting attributed to 16th century Old Master Parmigianino as a potential fake.

The painting of Saint Jerome fetched over US$800,000 (£653,777) at auction at Sotheby’s New York in January 2008 when it was attributed to the ‘circle of Parmigianino’. When a private collector lent it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for exhibition in 2014, curators from the European painting department discussed the attribution with leading Parmigianino experts but could not agree on whether it was painted by the artist himself or those close to him.

The Met made the decision to describe the work as ‘a powerful depiction of the penitent saint’ possibly painted by the artist in Bologna or Parma around 1528-1530. Now, a battle of the experts is expected after Sotheby’s New York confirmed it is investigating the work as suspicious and will be performing technical tests to verify the attribution.

The Saint Jerome once belonged to the controversial art dealer Giulano Ruffini. Several of the paintings at the centre of the forgery scandal have been linked to Ruffini but he denies presenting fake works for sale as genuine Old Masters.

News of the investigation into the Parmigianino follows the announcement made in late September this year that a painting formerly attributed to Frans Hals was a forgery. “Portrait of a Man” was sold by Sotheby’s in good faith for US$10m to American collector Richard Hedreen.

Following a technical study made by the US-based company Orion Analytical, Sotheby’s concluded that the portrait was a fake and reimbursed Hedreen. The seller, British dealer Mark Weiss has yet to reimburse Sotheby’s. “I still have to be convinced“, Weiss stated.

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