A Russian art dealer has accused one of the country’s major art galleries, the Russian Museum, of forgery. He claims a painting he acquired in 2009 is a fake, created at the museum’s depository. The police have opened an investigation.
Aleksandr Vasiliev purchased a painting by the prominent Russian artist, Boris Kustodiev, from a private individual, “without bothering to send the work for analysis”, the Head of the museum’s press office, Natalia Zhukova, told the Novye Izvestia daily. Later another wealthy art collector expressed interest in the masterpiece entitled "At the Restaurant". He carried out his own independent analysis which confirmed that the painting was a fake. Experts at the St Petersburg-based Russian Museum have confirmed it is not genuine.
Vasiliev went to police claiming that Kustodiev’s imitation was allegedly created at the Russia Museum’s depository. An investigation has been launched, and a case opened against “unidentified persons”.
“There has been no forgery of Kustodiev’s works at the museum whatsoever,” the Russian Museum insists. It maintains that if copies of the paintings do exist, they were made long before the work, "At the Restaurant", became part of the museum’s collection.
The problem is, Boris Kustodiev had another work which bore a strong resemblance to the controversial “At the Restaurant”, entitled “Parisian Café”. Art historians think it is possible that that painting has been copied a number of times.
Experts from Russia’s Ministry of Culture are expected to check out the Russian Museum’s depository in connection with the police investigation.
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