Martin not laugh­ing now

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News - dclarke@irish­

Here’s a weird one. The au­thor of a re­cent novel on the art busi­ness, Steve Martin, has long been re­garded as a bit of a con­nois­seur in that area. Yet it seems that the ac­tor has been the vic­tim of a huge forgery scam. In 2004, Martin paid $850,000 for a paint­ing that was sup­posed to be by the late Ger­man mod­ernist Hein­rich Cam­p­en­donk. Al­ready re­veal­ing a cer­tain fragility of judg­ment, Martin later sold the work for a “mere” $500,000. Now it turns out that the paint­ing is a fake.

“The gallery that sold me the pic­ture has promised to be re­spon­si­ble to me, if I’m re­spon­si­ble, but it’s still un­clear,” Martin said with a shamed face. “It wasn't clear that it was a fake un­til af­ter Christie’s had sold the pic­ture – it was a long time af­ter that, that it be­came known.”

Wolf­gang Bel­trac­chi, the al­leged forger, who may also have faked work by Max Pech­stein and Max Ernst, seems to have fooled many of the world’s most dis­tin­guished ex­perts. So, Martin, who is not ac­cused of any wrong­do­ing, need not feel like a to­tal, ahem, jerk.

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