x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Comedian Steve Martin a victim of fake-art scams

There's one thing the multi-talented Steve Martin has been a dismal failure at .... buying art. The actor/comedian has a track record of purchasing fakes.

Is there no end to Steve Martin's talents? Not only is the silver fox a successful comedian and actor, but he's shown considerable skills as a playwright, pianist, banjo player and juggler. And it has now emerged that he's also rather adept at accidentally buying forged artwork.

According to Der Spiegel, it seems that Martin has unwittingly found himself in the midst of Germany's biggest art scandal, being one of many duped into buying forged work from a gang arrested by police last year.

His leap into the murky world of artistic knock-offs came in 2004 when he purchased the painting Landscape With Horses by the German-Dutch modernist Heinrich Campendonk from the Cazeau-Beraudiere gallery in Paris. Only he didn't purchase Landscape With Horses, but a rather good fake, something that was revealed after he sold it again at auction in 2006.

"The fakers were quite clever in that they gave it a long provenance and they faked labels, and it came out of a collection that mingled legitimate pictures with faked pictures," Martin told The New York Times, adding that he'd unwittingly bought fakes in the past. "You have to guard against it."

While Martin is not accused of any wrongdoing, he's still significantly out of pocket, having bought the painting for $850,000 (Dh3.1 million) and sold it for just $500,000.

Perhaps he should stick to the acting, the banjo, the piano, the juggling and the playwriting.