Berenson [born Bernhard Valvrojenski] was a genius who early in life
channeled his gifts into the study of that finest flower of Christian
art: Italian Renaissance painting. By the age of 35 he had become the
world's leading authority ... The curators of many of world's greatest
museum's were either his former pupils or his disciples ... They came
to hear his opinions, take his advice, and pay homage to his scholarship
and his intellectual integrity. A small minority saw him as a disgustingly
rich, opinionated, spiteful tyrant ... But only a handful were aware
that it was Berenson, not [prominent art dealer Joseph] Duveen [also
Jewish], who was probably the most successful and unscrupulous art dealer
the world has ever seen."
Artful Partners. Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen, Macmillan,
1986, p. 1
"The raw truth about both men [Berenson and Duveen] ... is ...
complex and considerably sordid."
From Manet to Manhattan. The Rise of the Modern Art Market, Random House,
"Berenson shaped the very terrain of Renaissance studies, not to
mention the market for what has became its masterpieces."
The Pastry Shop and the Angel of Death. What's Jewish in Art History,
in Rubin/Dorsky, People of the Book, Press of American Studies Association,
In the field of archeological swindles, Moses Shapira was the pioneer
in the field. "Shapira," notes Israeli art curator Irit Salmon,
"was the first to recognize that archeology could be a profitable
business." Shapira, a Russian Jewish transplant to Jerusalem, sold
a variety of fake archaeological artifacts in the late 1800s, including
recently manufactured items he misrepresented to major European museums.
"His exposure as a fraud in 1884 led to his suicide a few months
Moses' Dealer, The Jerusalem Report, July 31, 2000
In the midst of the controversy over the building of a museum (in
1974) bearing the name of Jewish mogul Joseph Hirshhorn on the mall in
Washington DC, Washington newspaper columnist Jack Anderson "reported
that Hirshhorn had been in legal trouble years earlier over alleged currency
smuggling and stock manipulation." [MEYER, K., The Art Museum.
Power, Money, Ethics, William Morrow, 1979, p. 50]
"The ability to bilk one's clients at auction is a fine art, make no mistake
about it. To succeed for a lifetime without detection or exposure, the
auction- buying crook must have the cunning of a polecat, the ethics of
a Gabon viper, and the acquisitive drive of a dung-beetle. All these feral
qualities were uniquely fused in the late Lew David Feldman, a rare book
and manuscript dealer who opeated under a firm name devised from his cutely
bastardized initials -- The House of El Dieff."
Auction Madness. An Uncensored Look Behind the Velvet Drapes of the Great
Auction Houses, Everest House, Publishers, New York, 1981, p. 19
$50 Million Art Swindle. Forbes, February
"Many are calling it the biggest art fraud ever. When all the figures
are in, art dealer Michel Cohen will have taken the art world
for at least $50 million, and maybe half as much again or more ... It's
a jealous and wary system, where each player guards sources and clients,
but it is built on an essential trust. This is the system that has made
the art market the largest unregulated money market in the world--a
market that Michel Cohen was in a position to loot."
to Examine Photo 'Forgeries.' The Times
[of London], August 17, 2001
"The FBI has begun an investigation into the suspected forgery
of hundreds of works by one of Americaís most famous photographers.
Test showed that numerous 'vintage' prints by Lewis Hine, who is revered
for his social realist pictures from the Depression, were printed on
paper not available until more than a decade after his death in 1940.
The investigation was prompted by a complaint from a dealer in Santa
Fe, New Mexico, about Hineís longtime collaborator, Walter Rosenblum,
an acclaimed war photographer and the former president of the Photo
League co-operative where Hine left his archives ... he was reported
to have reached a confidential settlement out of court with six dealers
to create a £690,000 fund to reimburse buyers of between 300 and 500
Hine prints who were unhappy with their purchases."
More Misleading Than Buying Sight Unseen.
The Art Newspaper [Great Britain], May
"The New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has filed an
injunction against the Antique and Design Center, an art gallery based
in New Windsor outside New York City, for selling fake works of art
through eBay. Throughout 1999, the Antique and Design Center, which
also operates under the name Antique Connection and sells on eBay through
the ID 'sambuca914.' sold twenty-three works valued between $700 and
$10,000 ... (The proprietors of the Antique and Design Center, Jill
and Jerry Schuster, had no comment for the publication.)
This will be the first case of fraud brought by the State against an
online art retailer, but the Attorney General does not think that it
will be the last. 'This is just the tip of the iceberg,' commented Mr
Spitzer. He also added that several other galleries are currently under
Charges for Art Dealers, museum-security.org
[originally from the New York Times], June 3 2001
"Two New York City art dealers, Shirley D. Sack, 73 and
Arnold K. Katzen, 62, have been charged with conspiring to launder
$4.1 million in drug money after being apprehended in an undercover
sting in Boston, federal authorities said. According to the Associated
Press, the two were arrested on Thursday at the Ritz Carlton Hotel
as they attempted to sell paintings, which they claimed were originals
by Modigliani and Degas, to a federal agent posing as a drug dealer.
Alan M. Stewart, a Stamford, Conn., art dealer who was not present during
the undercover sting, was charged with conspiring to set up the transaction.
Court papers identified Ms. Sack as a wholesaler of art and jewelry,
and principal of Shirley D. Sack, Ltd., 300 East 56th Street, and Mr.
Katzen as principal of American European Art Associates, 1100 Madison
Avenue. Federal authorities said their investigation began in March
when an informant, who would later act as a go-between in Thursday's
operation, told them that Ms. Sack had been attempting to sell a painting
by Raphael and was prepared to accept payment in drug money or from
organized crime figures."
Four Israelis Arrested
Here for Stealing Judaica in Europe. museum-security.org.
[originally from the Jerusalem Post], February 28, 2001
"A gang of Israelis is suspected of stealing valuable Judaica,
ritual objects, and holy books from synagogues, museums, and private
collections all over Europe, smuggling them into Israel, and reselling
them. Tel Aviv police arrested four suspects on Monday and yesterday,
central unit head Asst.- Cmdr. Menahem Frank said. Additional
arrests are expected, he said, adding that at this point all the members
of the gang appear to be Israelis. Police found $2 million worth of
valuables that are believed to have been stolen in the Jerusalem home
of one suspect."
Police Probe Art Theft Ring. museum-security.org,
May 11, 1997 [original source: UPI; scroll to this article just below
the middle of the page]
"Israeli security forces have located some 85 objects d'art slated
for distribution in the underground circuit. The loot includes 76 Christian
icon paintings and nine paintings from the 16th to 17th centuries valued
at several hundred thousand dollars each. The investigation began when
a local dealer reported that a colleague tried to sell him five famous
paintings stolen from a Paris museum in February. Police contracted
a dealer to meet with one suspect in a Tel Aviv apartment and pretend
to close a deal. The alleged art trafficker, his partner, and dozens
of works of art were captured in the sting operation. The two suspects,
one a bank official and the other a supermarket owner, face charges
of accepting stolen goods ... Police believe the group is part of a
larger international ring of thieves and dealers."
Memorial Smuggles Murals. Washington Post.
June 20, 2001
"In a secret operation, Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial
has smuggled out of Ukraine fragments of murals by Polish-Jewish artist
Bruno Schulz, sparking an international controversy. Yad Vashem
maintains it was merely exercising its right to preserve the works of
a prominent Jewish writer, artist and Holocaust victim, but Ukrainian
and Polish officials say their removal was a crime."
An Ugly Real-Life Drama for Producer Garth Drabinsky.
Business Week, Septembe 29, 1998
"Garth Drabinsky's torturous fall from grace at Broadway
production company Livent Inc. over the past four months has
been one of the theater world's most spectacular declines. The wunderkind
who brought the current hit Ragtime to the elegantly refashioned
Ford Center in New York City had long been known as a lavish spender.
But his indefinite suspension in August as Livent's creative
director and vice-chairman -- amid allegations of 'serious' accounting
irregularities -- stunned theater insiders. Lately, it has spawned frenetic
legal action ... Embarrassingly, the news of Drabinsky's suspension,
along with that of Vice-President and longtime Drabinsky associate Myron
Gottlieb, was made public promptly that morning. A Livent
press release damningly reported that 'an internal investigation has
revealed serious irregularities' in company records that had been uncovered
late the prior week. The release, which made news across North America,
said 'millions of dollars' were involved and added that it was 'virtually
certain' that results for 1996, 1997, and early 1998 would have to be
House Agrees to Settle Civil Lawsuits.
Art in America, November 2000
"Sotheby's and Christie's recently agreed to a settlement in the
civil lawsuits brought against them by art buyers and sellers. According
to the agreement, the auction houses will pay a total of $512 million
to customers who accused them of fraud in a 1997 price-fixing scheme
... According to the Wall Street Journal, Sotheby's reached a
separate agreement with its former chairman A. Alfred Taubman
[who is Jewish, and a real estate mogul], requiring him to pay $156
million of the company's $256-million share of the civil settlement.
He will also pay $30 million to the company's shareholders in a separate
security-fraud lawsuit. The burden of Taubman's fines, however, will
likely be offset by the increased value of his substantial holdings
in Sotheby's stock, which has been soaring in the wake of news of the
Angeles Police Department Press Release, Los
Angeles Police Department [Media Relations Section], August
"On 8/13/99, a museum art thief was convicted of thefts of fine
art from two Los Angeles museums. Nureet Granott, 50, used a
fake driverís license, a fraudulent credit card, and fictitious rental
agreement information to gain control of over $22,000 of art through
the art rental galleries of the UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum of Art and
the L.A. County Museum of Art in 1995. She then disappeared with the
art until detectives of LAPDís Art Theft Detail uncovered her true identity
and tracked her down three years later at her fashionable home in Beverly
Hills where she was using the art to decorate the house. During the
investigation, the detectives uncovered a pattern of fraudulent practices
that were facilitated through the use of various names, business DBAs
and anonymous mail box addresses. These were used to fleece others for
an estimated $100,000 in goods and services - from a luxury car to pet
bills. During the museum thefts, Granott assumed the identity of her
sister, Hanit Peretz, who is living in Israel. During many of
the transactions, Granott was accompanied by her husband, David Yehuda
Cohen. Both are also suspected of being involved in questionable
real estate transactions. During the search warrant, detectives noted
the personalized license plate of their vehicle to be 'EARN BIG.'"
Do You Have My Genuine Fake Derein?,
St. Petersburg Times, July 16, 2000
"While foraging at one garage sale, I paid a few bucks for a book
called FAKE!, a biography of Elmyr de Hory, perhaps the greatest
art forger of all time. De Hory was a Jewish Hungarian aristocrat and
would-be artist who lived in Paris in the 1920s. He hobnobbed with Picasso,
Matisse, Van Dongen, Modigliani, Vlaminck and Derain. During World War
II, De Hory's parents were killed and the family riches confiscated.
He was stranded in Paris with no allowance -- but an undiminished taste
for high living. According to his account, a rich friend mistook one
of his line drawings on his wall for a Picasso. She offered him 40 British
pounds for it and resold it to a London art dealer for 150 pounds. That
launched a 20-year forgery career. Never successful with his own work,
De Hory cranked out a prodigious body of fakery. He could mimic almost
all of his old acquaintances. To sell his fakes, he'd drop hints that
his father had amassed a private collection in the 1930s that was later
smuggled out of Hungary. He sold to art dealers and museums. His work
started showing up in art books as originals. He forged so many Dufys
that an expert once rejected two real Dufys as fraudulent because he
mistakenly assumed that De Hory's hand and style were the correct ones.
He finally was caught in 1967 and spent a few months in a Spanish jail."