Lot 114, Sotheby’s (London), 30 November 1994


Pencil on paper

Lot 114, Sotheby’s (London), 30 November 1994 (2010) is a drawing I copied from a photograph released by the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), which accompanied a statement admitting that an object in their collection, Paul Gauguin’s The Faun, was a forgery. AIC purchased The Faun in 1997 from a London dealer (who had bought it at Sotheby’s in 1994) and toured it around the world, but discovered it was a virtuoso fake by the Bolton-based forger, Sean Greenhalgh, following his arrest in 2007. The original sculpture is thought to be lost, but may actually never have existed, as Greenhalgh had based his version on Gauguin’s preliminary drawings rather than on an object (real or in reproduction).

My drawing was sold at an auction in 2010, under the same lot number as Greenhalgh’s was in 1994, following which I asked the Mississippi-based ‘forger’, Mark Landis, to produce a replica of it. Landis had recently come to prominence following a public campaign by The Art Newspaper, in which he was presented as a master copyist who was wreaking havoc in the museum world. Landis’ desire was to become a philanthropist, despite having neither material wealth nor social/political influence, so he made replicas of works by well-known artists, adopted an alter-ego, and attempted to donate them to museum collections.

Unlike Greenhalgh’s objects – and despite what press reports often state – Landis’ works are easily recognisable as fakes, as he generally uses inauthentic materials and works over the top of pictures scanned from auction catalogues. His activities and motivations place him in a strange space at the borders of the institution of art, never fully inside and never fully outside.

Exhibited in:


The Tetley, Leeds (24 Sept 2019 → 19 Jan 2020)