MOSCOW - It was a very particular family enterprise. Twin brothers, both professional artists, painted more than 800 paintings and then sold them, with the help of one of the brother’s daughter, claiming that they were the work of well-known 20th century Russian artists such as Kazimir Malevich.
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Painting by Kazimir Malevich. Photo Van Abbemuseum.
The works, the duo claimed, were from a seriously ill collector from Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The fakes netted the pair more than $600,000, all sold to just two buyers, Kommersant reports.
According to the buyers’ lawyer, the two brothers counted on finding buyers that wouldn’t be able to tell fakes from real paintings, and would buy the work in question as soon as they heard the name of a famous artist.
The two brothers offered work from many different artists of the period, doing their business in a hotel room. One of the brothers’ 30-year-old daughter pretended to be the sick collector’s agent in charge of bringing the works of art into Russia from Uzbekistan, Kommersant reports.
The team presented correspondence between the fake Uzbek collector and well-known art collectors and fake certificates of authenticity signed by experts. One of the brothers died after his arrest. The surviving twin was just sentenced to four years in prison, and his daughter to two years.