I recall an evening at Elmyr’s villa, La Falaise, during which I asked him what he thought about the prospect of others creating fake Elmyrs. He looked at me; his expressionless face suggested I had asked a silly question. A bemused grin then disarmed the awkward silence and we laughed together, enjoying the irony and unlikelihood of such a notion.
If I learned anything from my long friendship with Elmyr it should be this: self-interest is ever-inventive, plumbing the depths of imagination, resourcefulness, and most often trumps convention, ethics, or the law. Throw in an element of desperation, as Elmyr knew too well, then those mechanisms, legal or moral that keep people honest become minor inconveniences and ineffective inhibitors. Nor did I ever think I would find myself in the peculiar position of attempting to segregate …authentic fakes…from inauthentic fakes, an oxymoronic concept and surreal pursuit.
However, it is this strange situation that prompted me to create my website and source for those interested in viewing Elmyr’s bona fide works. Curiously, I find the idea of Elmyr’s saga being used as a template, or inspiration for others to exercise their own attempts at fakery much less alarming than the disturbingly awful refrigerator art being passed off…as Elmyr’s works. Nevertheless, from what I’ve seen on online auctions and elsewhere, this cottage industry is robust.
Elmyr always acknowledged that his sin was unoriginal. History abounds with artists dedicated to deceiving and profiting from unwary buyers. The bottom line here is that talent was the foundation of Elmyr’s long-running success as the twentieth century’s greatest art forger. Furthermore, if his imitators possessed his skill, I would feel less compelled to cry ‘fowl’.
My only hope is that those wishing to buy art they believe to be by Elmyr, they look here first.