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Driven to Abstraction

Daria Price
Daria Price

Driven to Abstraction unravels a complex mystery of self-delusion, greed, and fraud-- the ongoing $80 million forgery scandal that rocked the art world and brought down Knoedler, Manhattan’s oldest and most venerable gallery. It also brought down the esteemed gallery director, Ann Freedman, who still claims she was the target of a con game, despite evidence in a recent trial pointing to her participation in this fifteen-year scam.

When collectors realized they had plunked down millions on now worthless fakes, lawsuits started flying, and the Feds did what the Feds do—they followed the money to tax evasion and money laundering and to a simple house in Queens. It turned out that all the fakes were the work of a single forger, an elderly Chinese immigrant with the uncanny ability to mimic the masters of Abstract Expressionism.

How could this scam flourish for so long despite plenty of red flags popping up along the way?  It took a village, says the New York Times reporter who broke the story. The art market’s lack of transparency and secret transactions smoothed the way. Along with drugs and arms, the art trade is the most unregulated in the world.