When creating fake versions of artwork made by an incredibly famous artist, it stands to reason that a crafty person would conjure these fabrications sparingly; however, according to new reports, Italian authorities have seized approximately 485 works of art that are thought to be counterfeit Francis Bacons connected to seven suspects total. The primary suspect, a Bologna-based art collector, had previously been connected to a 2018 incident called the “Paloma Operation” wherein other fake Francis Bacon paintings and fake Picassos were involved. Along with hundreds of fake Bacon paintings, the Italian police also gathered personal effects in the recent seizure that made the entire capture worth approximately $3.5 million.
Collectively, the suspects have been charged with fraud, money laundering and criminal conspiracy to authenticate and circulate fake works of art. The Italian authorities also elaborated that the operation they’d discovered involved legitimizing the fraudulent artwork “through prestigious national and international exhibitions, catalogs, websites, foundations and companies under foreign law, so as to increase their ‘quotation’ and then resell them, as a result.”
Those who participate in the manufacturing and peddling of fake art generally tend to possess a degree of shamelessness, but coming up with 485 fake artworks by a single artist seems to suggest a subconscious need to be found out; how long could such a flimsy scheme really be perpetuated?
In 2013, the Francis Bacon Estate accused David Edwards, the brother of Bacon’s heir and companion John Edwards, of selling fake Bacon artworks. By the time this accusation came to light, David Edwards had already sold multiple drawings supposedly made by Bacon for a total of over £1,300,000. However, according to an analysis made by a Bacon specialist named Martin Harrison, the works that Edwards was peddling actually ended up being nothing more than “pastiches, or even parodies, and profoundly disrespectful of Bacon’s authentic body of work.”