News 2012


Oskar Moll. The fake Artist

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Stillleben mit Obstschale, Palmenblätter und ägyptisches Relief mit Uräuskopf. 1946
Oil on coloured crayon on canvas,
70,0 x 53,5 cm
sign. u. dat. u.r. mit blaugrauer Farbe: Oskar Moll 46
verso: auf dem Steg des i.d. Mitte unterteilten Keilrahmens mit weißer Kreide: H MO 71…;
o.r. alter Aufkleber mit der Zahl 4; u.M. auf neuem Rahmen: Grisebach, Los Nr. 261 Moll Aukt. Nr. 72
Stay unknown (at Grisebach 1999 unmarketed)
 

 

Exhib. and Lit.: Villa Grisebach, Auktion 72, Berlin 1999, Lot 261;
Die ZEIT 2011, Nr. 47, p. 61, „Die Betrügersammlung“; Stefan Koldehoff u. Tobias Timm: Falsche Bilder. Echtes Geld. Der Fälschungscoup des Jahrhunderts – und wer alles daran verdiente, Berlin 2012, p. 174, 265, 271 („Adorno-Liste“)

In connection with the case concerning the art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi and the putative Jaegers and Knops collections (cf. e.g. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,794454,00.html or http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-26/german-forgers-face-prison-sentences-for-scam-worth-more-than-22-million.html) a forgery of a work by Oskar Moll was also discovered. Since the early 1990s the gang had brought into circulation, through prominent national and international galleries, more than 50 forged paintings certified by competent experts. Their provenance purported to be the collections of Werner Jaegers and Wilhelm Knops, both of whom had lived in Krefeld but had never been art collectors. Many titles of the forged works come from exhibition catalogues dating from the 1910s and '20s, and are listed as missing in the corresponding catalogues of works.

In the present case, the forger used a motif which Oskar Moll often used from 1930 onwards in his still lifes with fruit bowl (cf. Salzmann 1975, catalogue nos. 288, 373, 399, 490, 512, 520). This motif is a head with fan-shaped palm leaves, a reference to the Lower Egyptian goddess Uto, crowned with a cobra which rears its head and neck to form a circle when confronted with enemies.

This forgery was first publicly admitted as such in 1999. In addition, a number of formal and pragmatic arguments support the allegation of forgery. In 1946, Moll would not have been able to afford canvases of this size. The dimensions of the blunt stretcher frame are unusual in his post-War period. The combination of oils and coloured crayon is hardly typical of Moll's work. The signature looks slightly laboured, lacking the characteristic flow.