Australia's Van Gogh is a fake

3rd August 2007, Comments 0 comments

3 August 2007, SYDNEY (dpa) - A painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh that has hung in a top Australian gallery for over 60 years is a fake, officials conceded Friday. Head of a Man, a portrait once valued at over USD 20 million by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), may now be worth less than its frame.

3 August 2007

SYDNEY (dpa) - A painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh that has hung in a top Australian gallery for over 60 years is a fake, officials conceded Friday. Head of a Man, a portrait once valued at over USD 20 million by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), may now be worth less than its frame.


"The quality of the painting certainly hasn't changed but the value of it would probably have plummeted to very little," noted art critic Susan McCullogh said. Its authenticity was questioned in August last year while on loan to the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Doubters said the work, dated 1886, was markedly different from van Gogh paintings of the period and was not mentioned in any letters the artist wrote.


The NGV sent its treasure to the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam for authentication and, after a year of painstaking research, experts concluded it was most likely painted by a contemporary of van Gogh.


"It's very important to make the point that it's not a forgery," NGV director Gerard Vaughan said. "There is no evidence to suggest that someone produced this picture at a later date to pass it off as a work by van Gogh."

He admitted there had always been some misgivings about the provenance of a painting that has been seen by millions of people and lent to galleries around the world. "We'd always regarded it as an offbeat picture, there were some odd things about it," Vaughan said.


The portrait was brought to Australia in 1939 by newspaper proprietor Sir Keith Murdoch, father of New York-based media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, and purchased by the NGV in 1940 for what was then the price of a family car.


The NGV traced ownership back to 1928 and the Abels Gallery in Cologne, Germany. But the Abels Gallery's files were destroyed during World War II and it wasn't possible to establish previous owners.


Vaughan said the painting would return to Melbourne and hang with other impressionist and post impressionist works with a tag saying the painter was unknown.


"We're not going to take it off the walls, it's not an embarrassment, it's just not by Vincent van Gogh," he said.

[Copyright DPA 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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