It seems fitting that this New York Times article ran only a few days before a piece in the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Steve Martin formerly owning a forged work in his collection. When Steve Martin originally bought the painting from a Paris art gallery in 2004 it had been authenticated by an art expert. The forgery was put on the market along with other forgeries by a group who claimed to be the heirs to a private collection which had been hidden during the Nazi era to escape bans on ‘degenerate’ art. Some forgeries of Max Ernst paintings were so convincing that even Werner Spies, an art historian and Ernst expert, gave them his seal of approval.
The success of these forgeries calls into question the efficacy of the authentication process and the continued reliance on connoisseurship. The NYTimes article delves into this question in an article which explores the provenance of a Pieta’ attributed to Michelangelo.