Most Famous Art Forgeries

Wherever we find something unique, beautiful, and genuine, we will find its copy. Specially when it comes to art, considering the high prices some people are willing to pay for good classical and famous pieces of art, not only paintings, but also sculptures. Art forgeries are the act of creating a work of art that is falsely credited to someone else, with the whole purpose of selling it, this action can be very lucrative, art forgery has probably existed since art was conceived as an occupation, Greek sculptures were copied by roman sculptors, however 2000 years ago the identity or genuineness of the pieces had little to no importance on buyers, given that what really mattered was having historical reference, aesthetic enjoyment or a religious inspiration. However, sometimes you can’t tell the difference between a fake and a genuine piece of art, the estimate is around 20% of artworks in museums are possibly fake. Nowadays is a lot easier to spot art forgeries, thanks to technology, modern analysis and dating techniques. It is obvious art forgery is illegal not only because it infringes copyrights but also because people receive profits off of a fake piece.

Sleeping Eros (1496)

Was a sculpture by Michelangelo, it consists of a sleeping cupid carved in marble when he was only 21 years-old. He then treated it to make it seem ancient and sold it to Baldassare del Milanese. Michelangelo’s beginnings were mostly based in copying others. This sculpture established the reputation of the artist, even though it was found to be a fake it was part of important figures’ collections all through XV, XVI and XVII centuries.

 Sleeping Eros
Sleeping Eros

Mona Lisa

In the year 1911, Yves Chaudron was involved in the theft of the original Da Vinci’s painting, with the plan of creating six copies and selling them to American buyers for at least $330.000. Then Vincenzo Peruggia was the one who stole the original painting but authorities got it back and restored it back to Italy. Yves still made pretty good money off his theft and forgery.

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa


Giacometti was a Swiss artist best known for his tall and slender sculptures. Robert Driessen was a consistent Giacometti forger, making over 8 million Euros from his work, allegedly saying it was too easy to copy Giacometti’s long, thin and amorphous sculptures. Driessen has never been caught by justice for these felonies.

La Forêt

Max Ernst oil painting was forged by Wolfgang Beltracchi in 2004, the forged piece was authenticated and sold for a good piece and was even placed for a while in the death artist’s museum. Beltracchi was on trial in 2011 for faking the painting and sentenced to six years in jail.

Vase de Fleurs

Originally by Paul Gaughin, it was forged by Ely Sakhai, an Iranian forger, who had run a fruitful forgery business for more than a decade, he would purchase real paintings, and then order others to make copies of them, then he would sell the frauds with a certificate of authentication. He was found to be selling forgeries when two famous auction houses were selling the same piece at the same time.