“…You Don’t Know Me, But…”

Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000180 EndHTML:0000006094 The recent exhibition of Elmyr’s art at the Hillstrom Museum of Art in Minnesota yielded unexpected surprises. Newspaper articles about the show caught the attention of two people who in turn contacted me. I didn’t know their initiatives would spawn new friendships and lead to unlocking secrets I once thought impenetrable. But that’s the way of the universe, karma, or divine order, that one’s life can take a right-angle turn in an instant.

Answering the phone with an unsuspecting, “Hello?” I heard a man’s radio-quality voice; his tone would calm an agitated cat. He introduced himself and followed with the caveat “You don’t know me, but I read the article in the Star Tribune and just wanted to tell you that I knew Elmyr.” Jerry was his name and a swarm of angry bees could not have diverted my attention from that point on. “When did know Elmyr?” I asked him. “I first met Elmyr in 1964 or ’65 in California,” Jerry told me. For the next hour and a half I learned unknown details about the man I knew better than anyone else. Or so I thought.

Around this time I discovered there was another intriguing work, a portrait of a woman a la Modigliani, by Elmyr on display in an exhibition at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington DC. The show, a rogues’ gallery of perpetrators of art fakes, forgeries, and thefts, was the brainchild of its attractive, no-nonsense curator, Colette Loll Marvin. She, I discovered, is the director of public and institutional relations for ARCA (Association for Research on Crime against Art), a think tank dedicated to the detection, prevention of art crimes, cultural property protection, education, consultancy and advocacy. These savvy sentinels of artistic patrimony quickly spotted the cluster of artwork by Elmyr on their radar.

Marvin and her associate, investigator Allen Urtecho Olson, flew to Minnesota in April to view for themselves my collection at the Hillstrom Museum. My friend, Jeff Oppenheim, a filmmaker from New York arrived at the same time to film the exhibition before it closed. The timing of their visits could not have been better. Jerry also drove up from Kentucky to join the convocation of the curious; this led to an instant connection of people impassioned by art, all of whom realized that Elmyr’s story was not just incomplete but merited a fresh look and impartial examination to get to the truth, separate reality from folklore and find the facts behind the myth of the greatest art forger of the twentieth century.

This compelling journey is entitled: CHASING ELMYR, a new documentary offering never-before-revealed personal accounts, interviews, archival research, expert opinion on the societal implications of his illicit career, the complicity of greed: the art world’s seamier side. We will also take a look at the manufacture of the “value” placed on art, its influence on the proliferation of art crimes and the challenges they present.

For more information on this exciting project, please see:

About elmyrstory

Mark Forgy is currently completing a forthcoming memoir about Elmyr and my life with him, entitled, "The Forger's Apprentice: Life with the World's Most Notorious Artist."
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