Art Market: Painting withdrawn from sale after artist declares it a fake

A PAINTING which Christie's in New York estimated at dollars 500,000 ( pounds 330,000) for its Latin American sale on Monday evening was withdrawn after the artist dismissed it as a fake.

The Dancers 'by Fernando Botero', is not by Fernando Botero, according to Mr Botero himself. The Colombian artist, best-known for his caricatures of social, religious and political figures, described it as a 'very vulgar copy'.

Christie's had, rather embarrassingly, placed the grotesquely fat, yet graceful, couple on the front of a separate catalogue devoted to 11 works by Botero. In fairness to them, the picture was a last-minute addition to the sale: meeting a catalogue deadline, they were judging it only from a colour transparency. However, Sotheby's had been offered the slide last summer, and, according to one source, they felt there was 'something odd' about it.

A Christie's spokesman said that the mistake was realised once it had seen the actual picture. Its size, slightly larger than the original, raised suspicions. He said that the Wall Street Journal had identified three groups of forgers - based in Miami, Paris and Caracas, Venezuela - who are believed to be specialising in painting Boteros.

For the artist, the forgers' activities further confirm his international status: such is Botero's popularity with collectors that his auction record, set in 1992, stands at dollars 1.54m ( pounds 1.02m). Paris recently lined the Champs Elysee with his monumental sculptures. Ironically, however, only four of the Boteros found buyers at Christie's on Monday. Among them, his Familia de Perros, which fetched dollars 211,500 ( pounds 138,235).

Christie's picture came from a respected Mexican private collection; the original from which it was copied is in a private collection in Florida, but has been widely published. However, as the artist pointed out, the forgers had changed a number of features, including moving the signature.

However, despite this dampener, Christie's did achieve two record- breaking prices for Rufino Tamayo, one of Mexico's greatest 20th-century artists. America, his monumental 1955 mural, sold for a record dollars 2.58m ( pounds 1.69m). His previous record was dollars 1.48m, set last November.

The dramatic work, in which the artist expressed his utopian vision of the Americas, spans more than 45 feet in width. It was commissioned by the Bank of the Southwest in Houston, Texas, which needed something to fill its lobby - at more than 11 2 acres, the largest in the United States. The mural - strictly speaking not a mural as it was painted on canvas rather than directly on plaster - was bought by an anonymous buyer. Another Tamayo, Mujer con Mascara Roja, 1940, made dollars 1.54m ( pounds 1m).

Christie's said that despite strong pre-sale interest from the trade, private individuals and institutions, bidding was erratic: half the items in this auction failed to sell.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - London - £43,000

£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior IT Support Analyst...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness