Hubertus Butin

Art Forgery - The Deceiving Object of Desire

With numerous images
(German title: Kunstfälschung)
ca. 476 pages
Hubertus Butin
Foto: Hubertus Butin
© Christiane Haid

Hubertus Butin was born in 1964. He has published numerous essays and books on contemporary art and art theory. He also organises exhibitions in international museums as a guest curator. In addition, he is a consultant for collectors, art dealers, auction houses and State Offices of Criminal Investigations around the globe. Hubertus Butin lives and works in Berlin.

Rights available

If it is coveted, it will be forged


In 2015 the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London put their visitors to the test. Rather than the oil portrait Young Woman by Jean- Honoré Fragonard, painted in 1769, they displayed a forgery commissioned for all but seventy pounds. The audience was invited to identify the fake artwork among the exhibits. The result was astounding: On the one hand, only about ten percent recognised the forgery – on the other hand, visitor numbers quadrupled.

Art forgeries and the interest in them are at an all-time high. For the global art scene, however, they have become a challenge. Masses of forgeries not only incur substantial financial losses, they also, embarrassingly, continue to lead museums and researchers astray. Hubertus Butin shows that the phenomenon cannot be reduced to individual criminals. Like doping in sports, forgery is a systematic problem in art. Using numerous case examples, some ludicrous, others unknown until now, Hubertus Butin explores the reasons, describes the methods of famous forgers and explains how we can better steel ourselves against fraud and deception.


»In his thorough study, Hubertus Butin examines the entire art system, deals with forgers, collectors, auctioneers, gallerists, sellers on the internet, with appraiser, consultants, experts and with the role of the media and curators alike in a manner that is informed on the level of both art history and the law.« Jens Bisky, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»In his book that is rich in materials and a smooth read, Butin does not write a crime story of art forgery. With the way he analyses the complex interplay of collectors, media, art dealers, museums and venturers, he basically provides a kind of cross section analysis of the art world.« Ingo Arend, taz. die tageszeitung

»exceptionally knowledgeable and meticulously precise« Annegret Erhard, DIE WELT

»This book packs a punch: It names glaring deficiencies, even suggests solutions at the end and draws – virtually en passant – a glowing portrait of the art scene. You will no longer be able to pass on this standard work.« Eva Hepper, Deutschlandfunk Kultur

»Butin considers his rich topic from every angle.« Sabine Spindler, Handelsblatt

»Illuminates the topic of art forgery from all sides. As gripping as a crime novel.« KUNSTnachrichten