Belfast Telegraph

Man could see 'fake picture' burned

An art-loving businessman faces the prospect of seeing one of his treasured paintings thrown into a furnace to be destroyed after it featured on a BBC show about fakes and forgeries.

Martin Lang bought what he thought was an original work by Russian-born artist Marc Chagall in 1992 for £100,000 and more than 20 years later his son called in experts from BBC1's Fake Or Fortune to examine it.

Viewers of tonight's show will see the watercolour, a nude said to date from 1909-10, undergo a series of scientific tests in an attempt to prove whether it is genuine before it is finally sent to the Chagall Committee in Paris for examination.

But the committee, which is run by the artist's grandchildren to protect his reputation in the art world, said it is a fake and told the show that under French law they will have the painting burned.

The show's host, Fiona Bruce, said: "A decision like this forces the owner of any painting to play a kind of Russian roulette with their precious artwork. The only way for Martin to authenticate his painting was with the Chagall Committee, he had no other choice. But it was never made clear to him that if they didn't like the look of his painting that they would burn it. How can anyone ever approach this committee with a painting again if this is how they react?"

Mr Lang, 63, a property developer from Leeds, has asked the committee to mark the painting as a forgery and then return it or give him a guarantee he will be reimbursed if it is later ruled as genuine but is still waiting for a reply.

He said: "I had no idea that anyone would take such a draconian view. They say they want to counter forgery but I think this will have the opposite effect of deterring honest people like myself from coming forward".

Chagall, who died in 1985, is regarded as a pioneer of modernism and his work can sell for millions of pounds.


From Belfast Telegraph