British art collector’s expensive Chagall to be destroyed after France calls it a fake

By Daniel S Levine,

British art collector Martin Lang spent £100,000 on a Marc Chagall painting in 1992. After the BBC show Fake or Fortune? determined that it was actually fake, a French committee has said that it should be destroyed. However, Lang’s family and even the hosts of the BBC show call that verdict extreme.

Lang, a businessman from Leeds, had kept the painting in his hallway, proudly displaying it. For years, he wanted to get it authenticated and finally decided to contact Fake or Fortune?. According to The Telegraph, Lang went to Belarus, Chagall’s place of birth, with the show’s producers to find information about “Kavarska,” the dancer in the painting. Unfortunately, there was no evidence that such a person existed and the painting was later determined to be painted much later than thought and called a fake.

However, Lang still wanted another opinion. So, he went to the Chagall experts in Paris, the Chagall Committee, which is run by Chagall’s grandchildren, reports the BBC. He assumed that if it was a fake, they would still give it back to him and his family. Instead, they ruled that it should be burned, as French law states.

“I don’t want to see it burnt,” Lang told the Telegraph. “It will be too upsetting." He said he wrote to them, saying that they could burn it if they plan on reimbursing him if it is later found to be real.

Even Fake or Fortune?’s expert, Philip Mould, can’t believe the verdict. He thinks that technology could advance and the painting should be revisited. “So it seems to me bombastic in the extreme to assume that their decision is absolutely right forever,” Mould told the BBC. “It's anti-academic.”

“I had no idea that anyone would take such a draconian view,” Lang added. “They say they want to counter forgery but I think this will have the opposite effect of deterring honest people like myself from coming forward.”

Lang has not heard back from the Chagall Committee.

image: Wikimedia Commons



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