Fine Art Connoisseur

THE INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR ART RESEARCH UNRAVELING ART’S MYSTERIES

The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) was established in 1969 at the suggestion of New York state’s attorney general to fill the void for an “authoritative, impartial, not-for-profit body to research works of art with uncertain authorship and also educate the public about art world issues.” For individual collectors, IFAR would help determine whether an heirloom that someone’s great-grandfather considered a Rubens was indeed that master’s work. For institutions, it could help to root out fakes and frauds — a growing problem in the 1960s.

Around this time, for instance, art forger David Stein was making and selling false Picassos, Modiglianis, Klees, and more at an alarming rate. He was arrested in New York in 1967, when Marc Chagall spotted a fake of his own work, painted by Stein, hanging in an exhibition. Stein pled guilty to six counts of counterfeiting and grand larceny, served time in prison, went to France after his release, and was arrested and convicted there as well. Nevertheless, Stein’s paintings in the styles of modernist masters — this time signed with his own name — were shown in a 1970 gallery exhibition titled Forgeries by Stein, and he was even enlisted to make the fakes featured in director Alan Rudolph’s 1988 film, .

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