Martin not laughing now
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.