May 8, 2016 – 06:45 telegraph.co.ukhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/07/art-forger-goes-straight-selling-5000-fakes/
Art forger goes straight selling £5,000 fakes
Robert Mendick , Chief Reporter
These masterpieces should be worth in the region of a half a billion pounds. Except they are fakes produced by David Henty, a convicted forger who produced them in the living room of his house by the seaside Brighton.
Mr Henty was exposed by The Telegraph a little over a year ago for selling his copies on eBay, duping hundreds, if not thousands, of the internet auction site’s customers in the process.
But proving there’s no such thing as bad publicity, Mr Henty has turned the notoriety to his advantage.
"“Since you did those stories, I have had quite a few commissions. I can’t thank The Telegraph enough.”"David Henty, master forger on going straight
The Telegraph investigation, which prompted interest from newspapers and television stations around the world, has led to Mr Henty going straight.
At the end of the month, an art gallery will stage an exhibition of his copies of masterpieces by the likes of van Gogh, Picasso and Modigliani.
With paintings priced at up to £5,000 a time, Mr Henty is expecting to do decent business.
“Since you did those stories, I have had quite a few commissions,” Mr Henty said. “People read about me in The Telegraph and elsewhere and sent me letters requesting I do copies for them of masterpieces.
“As a result, I decided to go straight and business is brilliant. I can’t thank The Telegraph enough.”
At the age of 58, and after a career in crime, the admission from Mr Henty is a bold one.
He was jailed for five years in the mid 1990s for forging thousands of fake British passports which he planned to sell to anxious Hong Kong citizens ahead of the handover to China.
The scam would have earned him a £1 million and might have worked, not least if he hadn’t mis-spelt the words ‘Britanic’ and ‘Magesty’. He went to jail a second time in Spain for selling stolen cars.
His eBay scam involved copying works by slightly less famous – and usually dead – artists, luring buyers in with claims that the paintings had been found in attics and in house clearance sales and that the authenticity could not be guaranteed.
In fact, Mr Henty knew the artwork couldn’t be genuine because he was churning the paintings out in his living room, as he later confessed when confronted by The Telegraph.
It was hard for him to conceal he was the artist behind the fakes, not least because he drives around in a car with the personalised number plate “V9OGH” in self-recognition of his skills as a counterfeiter of van Gogh’s work.
“I think eBay has had its day for fake art,” he said, “For the last few months I have been
“I have got 30 or 40 paintings for the exhibition. I have just done a 6ft Francis bacon that I am really pleased with. I have tried to get them as accurate as possible.”
The exhibition at the No Walls Gallery in Brighton will be his first as a legitimate copier. The opening night will be attended by Peter James, the best-selling author of crime fiction who has just completed a book about real life criminals in Brighton written in conjunction with Graham Bartlett, the city’s former chief superintendent, who arrested Mr Henty for the passport scam.
The pair – detective and villain – have struck up an unlikely friendship in recent months. Mr Henty’s passport scam is a chapter in the book, entitled ‘Death Comes Knocking’ and which is published in the summer.
The endorsement of Mr Henty’s art by Mr James, who has sold 17 million books worldwide, will further boost his chances of artistic success.
A satellite television channel is also planning to make a programme around Mr Henty in which one of his fakes will hang with genuine masterpieces in a gallery.
Contestants have to spot the forgery. Whether they succeed or not will be testament to Mr Henty’s skills as a master forger.
2. WASHINGTON DC - Highlights from the US Hearing Entitled “Preventing Cultural Genocide: Countering the Plunder and Sale of Priceless Cultural Antiquities by ISIS”
Posted: 20 Apr 2016 05:47 AM PDT
On April 19, 2016 the US House Financial Services Committee Task Force on Terrorism Financing held a one panel, two hour and fifteen minute long hearing entitled “Preventing Cultural Genocide: Countering the Plunder and Sale of Priceless Cultural Antiquities by ISIS” in the Rayburn House Office Building.
A 16 page introductory memorandum and witness biography can be found on the US House of Representatives Financial Services website here.
During this hearing, testimony was given by: (in alphabetical, not speaking order)
• Dr. Amr Al-Azm, PhD, Associate Professor, Shawnee State University
• Mr. Robert M. Edsel, Chairman of the Board, Monuments Men Foundation
• Mr. Yaya J. Fanusie, Director of Analysis, Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance,
• Dr. Patty Gerstenblith, PhD, Distinguished Professor, DePaul University College of
• Mr. Lawrence Shindell, Chairman, ARIS Title Insurance Corporation
During the hearing witnesses described the unabated and systematic process of cultural heritage destruction in Iraq and Syria and antiquities looting in the region which has grown steadily given the regions' instability.
Secretary of U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield, Patty Gerstenblith, speaking in a personal capacity and for the Blue Shield organisation she represents testified before the Financial Services Committee’s Task Force saying, in part
“Unfortunately the looting of archaeological sites is big business, often carried out on an organised industrialised scale and in response to market demand. And many of these sites are unknown before they are looted.
As cultural objects move from source, transit and destination countries different legal systems create obstacles to interdiction of objects and prosecution of crimes and they allow the laundering of title to these artefacts.
The United States is the single largest market for art in the world, with forty-three percent of market share. Because of the availability of the charitable tax deduction, the ability to import works of art and artefacts without payment of tariffs and because of artistic preference the United States is the largest ultimate market for antiquities, particularly those from the Mediterranean and the Middle East."
A transcript of her testimony can be read in its entirety here.
While key takeaways from this hearing conversations can be found here ARCA strongly encourages its blog readership to take the time to listen to the entire hearing and examine the legal instruments evidence Dr. Gerstenblith underscores as being necessary.
She reminds us that looting of archaeological sites imposes incalculable costs on society by destroying the original contexts of archaeological artifacts thereby impairing our ability to reconstruct and understand the historical record. Her testimony reminds us that looters loot because they are motivated by profit and that the looting and illicit trafficking phenomenon we are seeing in Iraq, Syria and Libya responds to the basic economic principle of supply and demand.
The statements of all of the speakers remind us that while the market in antiquities has existed for centuries, its role in facilitating criminal enterprise on the scale that we are seeing in the Middle East is a terrifying one.
Maamoun Abdelkarim of Syria’s DGAM inspecting the condition of delivered
artefacts transported from various parts of Syria to Damascus on Sept. 21, 2015.
Antiquities collectors must be educated to understand that the purchase of objects emerging on the open market without legitimate collection histories (i.e. provenance) are the likely product of conflict-based looting of archaeological sites, and contribute significantly to the destruction of the world's cultural heritage. Buyers need to be made to realise that their buying power and their until now unharnessed demand for archaeological material, absent transparent ethical acquisition documentation, incentivises those facing economic hardship to participate in, or tacitly condone, the looting that we are observing in these current countries of conflict in the Middle East.
If collectors in market nations such as the United States and London refuse to buy undocumented artifacts, then the incentives for looting historic sites, which by proxy funds criminal enterprise and terrorism, would diminish.
Armed conflicts have long been called the “perfect storm” within which large-scale looting can take place, but not without collectors willing to look the other way.
By Lynda Albertson, ARCA CEO