Pros­e­cu­tors say artist’s ‘fake’ work is gen­uine

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Seoul

A paint­ing at­trib­uted to one of South Korea’s most renowned artists has been de­clared gen­uine by state pros­e­cu­tors, de­spite the in­sis­tence of the late artist her­self that it was a fake.

The paint­ing Beau­ti­ful Wo­man by Chun Kyung-ja has been the fo­cus of a bizarre, decades-long dis­pute over its au­then­tic­ity, and Mon­day’s an­nounce­ment by the pros­e­cu­tors looks un­likely to end the mat­ter, with Chun’s fam­ily vow­ing to pur­sue ef­forts to have it de­clared a forgery.

Born in 1924 in a small town in the south­ern part of the Korean Penin­sula, Chun Kyung-ja was best known for her paint­ings of fe­male fig­ures and flow­ers us­ing vivid pri­mary col­ors that broke with tra­di­tional South Korean styles.

Her works have re­cently sold at auc­tion for be­tween $700,000 and $1 mil­lion.

Be­fore her death last year at the age of 91, Chun had re­peat­edly in­sisted that Beau­ti­ful Wo­man — a 1971 por­trait owned by the South’s Na­tional Mu­seum of Mod­ern and Con­tem­po­rary Art — was not one of hers.

“Par­ents can rec­og­nize their chil­dren. That is not my paint­ing,” she in­sisted.

The mu­seum was equally adamant that it was, and in April a pros­e­cu­to­rial probe was launched af­ter one of Chun’s daugh­ters filed a com­plaint, ac­cus­ing for­mer and cur­rent MMCA of­fi­cials of hurt­ing the artist’s rep­u­ta­tion by pro­mot­ing the paint­ing as au­then­tic.

But in their re­port on Mon­day, the pros­e­cu­tors found in fa­vor of the mu­seum, cit­ing foren­sic ev­i­dence and the opin­ion of lo­cal art ex­perts.

They also clar­i­fied the prove­nance of the paint­ing, say­ing it was once owned by the for­mer head of the South Korean spy agency and was ap­pro­pri­ated by the gov­ern­ment af­ter he was ex­e­cuted for as­sas­si­nat­ing then-pres­i­dent Park Chung-hee in 1979.

“We tried to un­cover the truth by us­ing all pos­si­ble tech­nolo­gies avail­able for au­then­tic as­sess­ment of arts,” a mem­ber of the pros­e­cu­tors’ team said.

Chun’s fam­ily on Tues­day re­jected the con­clu­sion and ac­cused the pros­e­cu­tors of seek­ing to help the state mu­seum author­i­ties save face.

“The pros­e­cu­tors con­spired with the MMCA to ig­nore the sci­en­tific opin­ion of a world­class im­agery as­sess­ment firm and ... pro­duced this ridicu­lous re­sult,” the fam­ily’s lawyer said in a state­ment.

The state­ment re­ferred to the French im­agery anal­y­sis firm Lu­miere Tech­nol­ogy that had ear­lier es­ti­mated the pos­si­bil­ity of the paint­ing be­ing au­then­tic at less than 0.0002 per­cent.

“We won­der if the pros­e­cu­tors ... caved in to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure,” the state­ment said, adding that Lu­miere Tech­nol­ogy would hold a news con­fer­ence in Paris on Wed­nes­day to re­fute the pros­e­cu­tors’ find­ings.


Bana Alabed with an aid worker from the IHH or­ga­ni­za­tion af­ter she was evac­u­ated from rebel-held east­ern Aleppo.

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