$11 Million Chinese Nude Painting May Be a Fake

The work in question. (Photo: Beijing Jiuge International Auction Company)

In June 2010, as the Chinese auction market soared, an oil painting of a nude girl by the late Chinese artist Xu Beihong sold for a sprightly $11 million at the Beijing Jiuge International Auction Company in the nation’s capital. Now it appears that the work may be a fake.

A number of artists who graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in the early 1980s have released a letter saying that they believe one of them produced the work during a classroom exercise at the school, according to the AFP. Xu, a pioneer of oil painting in China, died about three decades earlier, in 1953, at the age of 58.

The artists have posted online paintings that appear to show, from various other angles, a nude figure that looks remarkably similar to the one in the $11 million painting, The Body of Miss Jiang Biwei. They write, “For Mr. Xu Beihong’s painting to share exactly the same lining colour, model standing posture, body features, hairstyle, and facial features as our paintings, this is impossible.”

If the artists’ allegation is true, the sale would mark one of the priciest forgeries sold at auction in recent years. So far, the auction house has declined to comment.