The artist Tracey Emin, whose work sells for thousands of pounds a piece, has been inadvertently caught in the centre of a forgery ring specialising in reproducing her art, Scotland Yard revealed today.
An inquiry is under way following concerns raised about several paintings, supposedly by her, that were offered for sale last year.
Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley, head of the Metropolitan Police's Art and Antiques Unit, said a number of Emin fakes had been identified and that enquiries continue. Emin has been kept informed.
Two men aged 21 and 23 were arrested in Manchester in November on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and of money laundering. They have been bailed until next month.
Emin, 46, who was born in Margate and was among the vanguard of the Young British Artists movement of the 1990s, has a body of work that includes an unmade bed scattered with condoms and dirty knickers, neon signs and a quilt embroidered with the names of every past lover. Her Unmade Bed was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998 and became one of the most visited exhibits in the history of the competition. She has represented England in the Venice Biennale – the so-called "world cup of art" – in 2007.
Details of the investigation into the forgery ring were revealed yesterday, as a dedicated exhibition on fakes and forgeries was launched at the Victoria and Albert Museum by the Met's Art and Antiques Unit, open to the public from today for two weeks.
The display showcases investigative methods used in detecting and preventing art crime in the V&A's Studio Gallery. It is designed to heighten awareness of art crime, educate people about what to look out for and to encourage further reporting of these crimes among professionals and collectors. Over 100 objects are on display, including forged versions of paintings and sculptures by well-known artists, which if real, would be worth in excess of £4m.
Objects on display include the work of Shaun Greenhalgh, who produced fake "masterpieces" ranging from The Amarna Princess statue (Egyptian) to Lowry paintings. He was deemed one of the most ingenious forgers of his day when he was sentenced in November 2007.
Officers have reconstructed the workshop shed from which Greenhalgh made his dazzling replicas. Other cases on display include fake Banksy prints, paintings by John Myatt and Robert Thwaites, antiquities by John Andrews and forged silverware by Peter Ashley-Russell.
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