Korean Art Dealer Indicted for Forged Lee Ufan Paintings

There may be as many as 50 forgeries.

Lee Ufan next to his artwork, L'Ombre des Etoiles (Shadow of the Stars) on June 11, 2014, at the Chateau de Versailles: Photo courtesy Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images.

South Korean authorities have indicted an art dealer for selling $1.1 million in forged canvases supposedly by the South Korean artist Lee Ufan. In an ongoing investigation, authorities have determined that the dealer, named only as Hyeon, may have commissioned as many as 50 forgeries, according to the Korea Times. He sold just three paintings, according to the paper.

An unnamed antiques dealer, who is also being investigated, reportedly approached Hyeon with a request for forged paintings. After finding a forger, Hyeon allegedly unloaded the paintings on other Seoul dealers, with galleries in Seoul’s Insa-dong and Busan neighborhoods.

Hyeon was arrested in May after having fled to Japan. Police are currently questioning him and the forger, identified in the Korea Times only as a “Western-style painter.”

Hyeon, 66, is reported to have operated a gallery in the Dongdaemun neighborhood of Seoul, the South Korean capital, which is also home to the $451-million Dongdaemun Design Plaza, designed by the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, who died in March.

Ufan’s auction record is $2.2 million, according to the artnet Price Database. That price was fetched by his 1977 painting From Point at Seoul Auction in 2012. Ufan is represented in the US by Pace Gallery and has been the subject of an exhibition at the Palace of Versailles in 2014 and at New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 2011, among many others.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency had found in January that the certificate of authenticity on a painting supposedly by Ufan, sold for $415,600 at Korean auctioneer K Auction, according to artnet’s database, was forged.

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