Dutch police have arrested a 56-year-old man they believe was trying to sell a forgery of a Vincent van Gogh painting.
He allegedly had forged documents that appeared to be from the recently-renovated Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which owns the work, vouching for its authenticity. The Associated Press reports that the suspect’s name is not being released in accordance with Dutch privacy law.
Because Van Gogh’s works are a rarity on the auction block, buyers from several countries are said to have been interested in buying the counterfeit painting.
In 1990, the artist’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890) set the record for the most expensive painting sold at auction, fetching $148.9 million. Accounting for inflation, that mark was actually only broken this year, when Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) (1955), sold for an astonishing $141.7 million.
The most expensive painting of all time is believed to be Paul Gauguin’s Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?), which reportedly went for $300 million in a private sale in February. The Qataris are believed to be the buyers of both works.
Van Gogh thought very highly of Harvest, and wrote to his brother Theo that the canvas, which he was working on in the summer of 1888, “absolutely kills all the rest.” Art historians believe Van Gogh completed 10 oils and five drawings over a single week in June of that year.
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