The strange case of the Vincent van Gogh forgeries

We all have different struggles in this world and everything will pass by in the end. The other day I was thinking about an art historian I used to know. This lady was one of the leading experts on Vincent van Gogh in The Netherlands. One day a major government cultural institution gave her the prestigious and well paid job to produce the definite catalogue on all the great painter’s works. She loved doing this job until she realised that a substantial amount of the paintings she was supposed to list in this catalogue were clearly forgeries. When she pointed this out to her boss he said ‘Yes, we are aware of this but there is nothing we can do about it because the owners of these paintings are very wealthy people who will take us to court employing top lawyers and bribing art historians to prove us wrong. The Dutch government doesn’t want to get involved in this as it will cost a great amount of time and money and these people are likely to win anyway.’

She was told to go ahead as instructed, otherwise they would have to fire her. Being by nature a very honest person who took her work seriously this lady went through an enormous personal struggle to cope with doing a job which partially produced lies. In the end she resigned and let someone else do it instead. It took her many years to overcome this as she also had to sign a document in which she had to agree never to publish anything about this matter. She passed away since and the catalogue is still regarded as one of the most authoritative publications on Vincent van Gogh’s work.

Source: Sebastian van ‘t Hoff on Facebook

Categories: Art

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