A History of Art Forgery

   In 1967, Stein, a former art dealer, was convicted in this country, on his plea of guilty, of six counts of counterfeiting art work and grand larceny. He had mastered the styles of such great artists as Chagall, Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Klee, Miro, Cocteau and Rouault to such an extent that he was able to and did sell as the original works of such artists, watercolors, gouaches and other paintings which he himself had created.

   After serving his jail sentence, Stein was deported to France where he was arrested and subsequently convicted for selling art forgeries in that country. Stein, in jail in Paris ws permitted by the French authorities to produce paintings “in the style of” such renowned artists as Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Braque and others, subject to the proviso that they bear his own signature: “Stein, D.” rather than the signatures of these masters as had been his prior practice.

   In April, 1969, Gallery's affiliate in London exhibited and sold a number of such paintings made by Stein during his confinement.

The French-born, New York—based forger accused in 1967 of selling fakes worth $165,800 displays a counterfeit Chagall which he painted to illustrate a 1968 magazine article describing his activities. Stein was later sent to prison where he painted under his own name; many of his works were subsequently sold in gallery exhibitions in the United States and abroad.

Stein in the custody of the New York police, including 300-pound detective Nick Barrett, who led the investigation leading to his capture.

Photo top: Stephen Green-Armitage in Art Fakes in America by David L. Goodrich.; New York, The Viding Press: 1973 ©1973 by David Goodrich. Photo bottom: UPI.


   This forger (1905-1976?) is remembered now largely thanks to the 1975 film by Orson Welles entitled F is for Fake. Elmyr, who credited himself with having painted nearly one thousand of the classics of modern art, including works by such artists as Matisse, Modigliani and Picasso, was exposed as a forger in 1968 and imprisoned briefly by the Spanish on the island of Ibiza. Welles’s film turns out to be a tribute to fakery, dealing mostly with Elmyr’s biographer Clifford Irving, who would go on to write a fake biography of Howard Hughes, and touch on Welles’s own War of the Worlds hoax in the 1930's.

ABOVE LEFT: Kees van Dongen: Portrait of a Woman. Painted by Elmyr in 1965, this
oil received van Dongen's expertise.

ABOVE CENTER: Henri Matisse: Femme aux Fleurs. Done by Elmyr in 1963.

ABOVE RIGHT: Amedeo Modigliani: Portrait de Jeanne Hebuterne. Painted by Elmir
in 1964 and sold the following year to Algyr Hyrtle Meadows.

Elmir deHory is depicted as a quintessential bon vivant and something of a folk hero in the Orson Welles film. Considering his admitted extensive involvement in art forgery, he spent very little time in prison and retired comfortably on an island off the coast of Spain, despite his admission of having created thousands of art forgeries.

Intro  (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8)  (9)
(10)  (11)  (12)  (13)  (14)  (15)  (16)  (17)
 (18)  (19)  (20)

Look for updates to this exhibit every week.

Also visit the companion to this exhibit: FABULOUS FAKES

Special thanks to people without whom this exhibition would not have been possible: Thea Eichler, NRCA; Billie Tucker, New Rochelle Library; Ivar Hyden, Backstreet Gallery and all the contributing artists.

Additional information about the availability of Fabulous Fakes, the History of Art Forgery or any of the works in the exhibition may be obtained by contacting The New Rochelle Council on The Arts by email or by calling 212-529-2025. More information on the NRCA can be found by connecting to the internet and clicking here.


Fabulous Fakes and A History of Art Forgery © J. L. Dolice, 2001, 2003.

All images in this presentation may not be copied, stored in any electronic retrieval device or used in any way without permission in writing. ISBN 0-935901-51-5.

Art Forgery Art Haus