Czech Forger Fools Art Experts

Jiří Sopko, one of the artists whose works were forged. Photo: Jindřich Nosek

Czech detectives are on the hunt for an art forger who has been flooding the Czech art market with “perfect” fakes. The con man has been replicating mostly Czech artists; some of his forgeries include imitations of Jiří Sopko, Václav Špála, and Kamil Lhoták.

“It’s really shocking how perfect the fakes are,” Vladimir Neubert, director of Galerie Art Praha gallery and art auction house, told Týden. “They can’t be distinguished from the originals! They are both the same. I myself was deceived.” The gallery has also stated that they would give 100,000 Kč to anybody who can identify the forger.

The forger was exposed after an attempt to send two fakes to auction. The paintings were meant to be by Czech figurative artist Jiří Sopko, and were estimated at about 500,000 Kč each. After publishing the auction catalogue, the gallery received a call from a confused owner of one of the paintings. Neubert says that the two fakes had been examined by two renowned art experts and both were confirmed to be genuine before they discovered otherwise.

Successfully fooling art experts and gallerists, the forger poses a threat to the Czech art market and has the potential to be a Czech equivalent to German master forger Wolfgang Beltracchi.

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