Posts in Behind the Scenes

Art Forgery Uncovered- Biggest Art Fraud Scandals from 2018

January 18th, 2019 Posted by Art News, Behind the Scenes, For Art Lovers 0 comments on “Art Forgery Uncovered- Biggest Art Fraud Scandals from 2018”

The Game of Duplicity, known as the un-fine art of forgery, has always been a part of art history. In fact, forgery of art dates to more than 2000 years ago, when Roman sculptors began producing copies of Greek sculptures. Buyers at the time didn’t need to know whether they were genuine pieces, largely because it was a time when art was created for historical reference, religious inspiration, or for aesthetic enjoyment.   

As times evolved, so did an increased prosperity of the middle class, which created a fiery demand for art. Art became a commodity, not only were people interested in art, they became interested in who the mastermind was behind the artwork. Artists began to identify their works with marks and signatures and monetary value of the artwork was all dependent on their identity, and in typical market fashion, demand began to surpass supply. As result, forged artworks with fraudulent marks and signatures soon appeared in the art market. 

To help combat fraud and track where and who owns a real piece, provenance has become a familiar practice to authenticate artwork; good provenance indicates there is no doubt that a piece of art remains genuine and the signature of the artist remains in its threshold. However, a recent report by the Switzerland Fine Art Expert Institute reveals an estimated 50% of works circulating in the art market are forgeries. With a verified statistic this high, and eye-watering price tags to match, collectors and buyers are more and more inclined to request empirical evidence when making a transaction. Without taking the necessary steps in order to establish provenance, there really is no other way to rid the art market of forgeries. Thanks to constantly improving technology, fraudsters are faced with more challenges than ever before. Below we look at some of the biggest art forgery cases from 2018, and the process involved in authenticating whether a piece is genuine or not.

Modigliani Forgery Madness


One of the paintings on display in the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa in March 2017. Source: ANSA via The Telegraph

The most expensive painting sold at auction in 2018 was Modigliani’s Nu couché (sur le côté gauche), which sold for $157.2 Million dollars! Modigliani’s works come with substantial dollar value attached to them and unfortunately, that same dollar value comes at the price of becoming a victim of forgery. In fact, Modigliani is one of the most copied artists in the world.    

In the spring of 2017, 21 of Modigliani’s pieces went on display in Genoa’s Palazzo Ducale. The exhibition caught the attention of tens of thousands of spectators near and far. However, Carlo Pepi, an art expert from Tuscany, raised doubts about the authenticity of the works on display and alerted the Italian authorities. Pepi raised concerns about the works during the promotion of the exhibition with a reprint of 1918 oil painting, “Marie the Daughter.” Pepi states: “My goodness, when I saw the poster of Marie and then looked through the catalogue and saw the others, I thought, poor Modigliani, to attribute to him these ugly abominations.” 

The exhibit soon came to a halt in July 2017, due to claims of forgery. The works underwent extensive testing for the next few months, concluding that 20 out of the 21 were forgeries. 

Because of the reputation of forgery surrounding Modigliani’s name, many institutions in France are conducting extensive forensic examination on all Modigliani works. Ten French museums have partnered with their national scientific laboratory to conduct a two-year forensic examination of all Modigliani’s works in French public collections. The project will put 29 pieces under the microscope, including 3 sculptures and 26 paintings. The Centre for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France (C2RMF), which is based in the Musée deu Louvre, began the examination of the works in May 2018. The C2RMF will be conducting scientific imaging on the pieces as well as using chemical studies of synthetic pigments. The pieces will also be sent to the National Center for Scientific Research in Lille, where scientists will be examining the organics materials of the pieces.  


Modigliani's Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne (1918) from the Musée d'Art Moderne de Troyes undergoing X-ray fluorescence analysis. Source: C2RMF/Vanessa Fournier via, Art Newspaper

The study is dated to conclude in December of 2019, the results and conclusions will be published along with a scheduled symposium in 2020, which will be the 100th anniversary of the artist's death. 

Artworks of the Russian Avant-Garde Deemed “Highly Questionable” 

In October 2017, The Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium (MSK Ghent) acquired some pieces for their permanent collection, to go on display to the public. The exhibition celebrated never-before-seen Russian avant-garde works from radical artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and Alexander Rodchenko. It included 26 pieces that were on loan from the Dieleghem Foundation, which is a charity owned by Brussels art collector, Igor Toporovski. Several of the pieces at the exhibition had become under scrutiny from a prominent group of Russian art specialists. In an open letter, the group questioned the authorship of the works. 

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Works displayed (in order from left to right) by Olga Rozanova, Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitzsky, Alexander Rodchenko and Lyubov Popova. Source: Museum of Fine arts, Ghent via, Artnet

Together, the specialists stated all 26 pieces were defined as highly questionable. They had no exhibition history, no documentation in academic research, and a lack of provenance. The works of notable artists such as Kandinsky and Jawlensky had not even been recognized by a Catalogue Raisonné (a scholarly compilation of an artist’s works). On top of this, the museum does not offer any information about how they assembled the exhibit without documenting the process.  

Artnet news was able to reach a spokesperson from MSK Ghent, who stated that the museum had followed standard procedures to review the loans that were to be featured in the exhibition, by conversing with the collector and reviewing the material supplied by the foundation. The museum went on to pass the task of providing documentation to the collector. The spokesperson states: ”It is not the task of a museum to conduct chemical tests which are only done in cases of doubts before making acquisitions, not for loans,” the museum spokesperson said. “We have acted throughout, we believe, correctly in this matter, and in good faith.” 

Artnet news went on to contact Toporovski about the documentation process, in which he states: “In the international museum practice neither certificates of authenticity, nor chemical conclusions are required. Nevertheless, each art-work belonging to the Foundation has its own file: provenance, history and technical description (condition). The Foundation can provide this information on request, for research, scholars and professionals.” 

All 26 of these works have not yet been proved as forgeries, albeit, critics stat that lack of proper documentation should provide enough reason for the museum to forgo the exhibition due to concerns about misleading the public. 

Museum to Honour Etienne Terrus’ Legacy Discovers Half of its Collection is Fake 

A community of 8000 people of Elne proudly stood together at the re-opening of its Ettiene Terrus Museum. Art historian, Eric Forcada soon raised doubts about the artworks when he visited the museum. Forcada states “on one painting, the ink signature was wiped away when I passed my white glove over it.” With these findings and his observations, Forcada alerted the local authorities and requested an investigation.

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Self portrait of Etienne Terrus, which is pictured at the gallery dedicated to his work in Elne. Source AFP via, The Local

A panel of experts concluded that a staggering 82 of the 140 works on display almost 60%, were considered forgeries. Terrus was described by the Mayor as “a part of the community, he was our painter.” Further expanding on the events, he states “knowing that people have visited the museum and seen a collection, most of which is fake, that’s bad. It’s a catastrophe for the municipality.”

What Can We Learn from These Incidents?

There is no doubt that original works of art hold special significance. Our appreciation of originality doesn’t only come from aesthetic attitudes, but also on the originality that comes with the artist’s ideas, and their creative process. We also consume through our senses, so when we look at an original by our favorite artist, it’s likely we’ve been on a profound journey to get there. Many will invest time and money to go on a personal artistic mecca to be in the very room that the real painting is on display. For many, we’ll be amongst a crowd, lining up to get that essential selfie with the Mona Lisa, or shuffling our way through the Sistine Chapel, necks craned, praying we don’t trip over while trying to memorize every detail because photography is banned. Through all of this, we somehow feel the essence of the artist, and it’s because of that special feeling that forgeries can be so hurtful to those who feel mislead, betrayed and blinded by trusting what they are admiring is authentic.

In order to acquire a piece of art, there is a lengthy process in order to establish provenance through scientific analysis, historical research, and obtaining a certificate of authenticity. These cases highlight the importance of validating artwork. Making sure to take all the steps in order to confirm that monetary, cultural, and moral value are still upheld and any loss that occurs is not to be tolerated


Arius Scientific Advisor, Mike Jackson taking a closer look at our scan of Van Gogh’s Iris. 

Despite due diligence, unfortunately even in 2018 (and 2019) the risk of coming across a forged piece of art is highly likely. With pioneering data capture technology for art work, Arius strives to offer much-needed transparency within the art market. We are utilizing our team and technology to aid collectors and museums in verifying their transactions by offering them securely captured art data that accurately maps the color and geometry of a painting. Using our scan data, we hope to create a ‘digital fingerprint’ for every piece, eventually lessening the risk of anyone coming across a forgery.  To find out more on how Arius plans to use technology to combat forgeries in the art market, take a look at our findings from the Deloitte’s 11th Art and Finance Conferencewhere we participated in a panel discussion about the role of Big Data and AI in the art world. 

Arius CEO Paul Lindahl on Deloitte Big Data Panel

Art Market Insights: Big Data & AI

November 7th, 2018 Posted by Art Market, Behind the Scenes 0 comments on “Art Market Insights: Big Data & AI”

Arius Talks Big Data & Artificial Intelligence at Deloitte’s 11th Art & Finance Conference

Earlier this month Arius CEO, Paul Lindahl, took to the stage at Deloitte’s 11th Art and Finance Conference, participating in a panel discussion about the role of Big Data and AI in the art world. As can be expected from a world-leading conference, Paul was amongst a stellar line up of panelists, including Henry Blundell, Master Art; Catherine D. Henry, Palpable Media; Zohar Elhanani, MututalArt; Oliver Zephir, Technoport SA; and Sophie Neuendorf, Artnet.

With a focus on how to improve analytics, financial decisions & experience in the art market, Paul and fellow panelists addressed some of the biggest challenges, and opportunities in this realm. Evidently, the landscape is changing at lightning speed and with the next Deloitte Art & Finance Report due to be published in 2019, we’re keenly anticipating its release.

Ahead of next year’s report, we thought we’d share our perspective on Big Data, what we’re most excited about, and where Arius has an important role to play.

What Exactly is Big Data and is it Already Here?

Research suggests the adoption of Big Data in the art world is still in its infancy, especially when we look at technical definitions of what “Big Data” means. In most basic terms, “Big Data” encompasses large volumes of data, collected at high velocity, in a variety of formats, often including unstructured and difficult-to-analyze data, like audio clips or social media posts.

Albeit early days compared to other industries, the art world is seeing some exciting Big Data players emerge. So far, developments are mostly in relation to recording transactions and predicting valuations, as well as making personalized recommendations for artwork based on user behaviour and trends.

What problems are the art world trying to solve exactly?

While these ideas sound like useful tools for more convenient art shopping, the core drivers for Big Data disruption run a little deeper than providing a seamless buying experience.

The Need for Transparency

Understandably, the power holders of the art market are typically those with hard-earned reputations, who can be trusted by the wealthiest of collectors, and have a great depth of knowledge, with insight and connections to private auction circles. With this comes an air of mystery and a great deal of secrecy.

With 53% of secondary market art sales being private [1], trust in transactions is being heavily placed on such reputations and word of mouth information within the art market. Therefore, art-world Big Data organizations are focusing on utilizing technology to improve transparency around transactions and value of a piece; i.e. what is being sold, when, for how much, and to whom?

Christie’s recently announced [2] that Artory’s blockchain registry will securely record all public information regarding the sale of each lot in the 2018 American Modernist Masterpieces auction. This data will include the title, description, final price, and date, producing a digital certificate of the transaction for Christie’s. Meanwhile, Codex has secured partnerships with around 5,000 auction houses that have joined their blockchain registry.

In an effort to develop standardized reports that strengthen provenance, which will inevitably help to determine current or future valuation, firms like Verisart, Fresco, Codex, and Artory are starting to gain traction with Blockchain based provenance technology.

However, there is a lot of internal skepticism as to whether improved transparency will have a positive impact [3]. While we may seek comfort in seeing similarly opaque markets, like real estate and wine collecting, being opened up with technology disruption, there is a stigma that data and technology necessitate and rationalize decision-making. Some fear this will remove the ‘element of surprise’ which is seen as essential for the art market, as this world thrives on its esoteric allure [4].

The flip side is that access to knowledge could empower more collectors than ever before and help grow the marketplace beyond the geographical constraints of few core art hubs in the world. We’re excited to see whether the attraction of a hungrier marketplace will help ease the transition towards transaction and valuation information becoming readily available.


Combating Art Fraud

Another challenge facing the art world is fraud, Interpol estimates that 6 billion dollars’ worth of fraudulent art is absorbed each year [5]. Understandably, with the risk of fraud being significant, collectors and financial lenders may continue to favour other investment assets, despite art earning a reputation for garnering unprecedented returns, in lucky circumstances.

While companies strive to improve transparency around art transactions, it’s proving difficult for Blockchain provenance companies to validate information or even tell if a transaction is actually based on the real object.

Naturally, Arius sees an opportunity here, to aid verified transaction information with securely captured art object data that accurately maps the colour and geometry of a painting. With the potential to digitally fingerprint paintings and assign unique art identifier numbers based on our scan data, which would be difficult to manipulate unlike photographs, we hope to help address one of the biggest challenges with digital provenance records and set new standards for condition reports.


Improving Condition Reports

Knowledge can also be harnessed from physical art object data, allowing not only prospective buyers but also current owners of art, to make the best possible long-term decisions about their collection. Arius’ rich data sets record a painting’s surface to reveal details that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye.

Working with conservators and restoration experts, collectors will be able to treat any early signs of degradation before the painting visibly changes, which is one of the biggest threats to the valuation of a piece, in addition to how gut-wrenching it would be to see your favourite Monet wither and fade before your eyes.

Another exciting prospect for the art market is the ability to not only detect degradation early but to predict signs of decay. As Arius collects data for more and more paintings, we’ll be helping to record the art equivalent of a ‘cultural seed bank’. Working with conservators and leading players in Big Data, we look to be able to predict the lifecycle of a painting’s surface, potentially calculating variable degradation rates of different artists’ works depending on where and how it’s kept.


Adjusting to a Generation Shift

Last but not least is a shift in generational values and expectations. While we’ve already seen pressure from millennials shake up other industries, it’s only now that we’re starting to see millennials emerge as power players in the art collection, financing and valuation markets.

Countless research highlights a millennial thirst for being able to access vast amounts of information, quickly and conveniently. We also expect the demands of millennial collectors to influence a shift towards the wider global distribution of art sales and auctions.

In addition to prices, this generation cares enormously about the value of an item and what that means in a broader context, including the impact on the environment, society and even what their consumer choices mean from a political stance. To make such mindful and well-informed decisions, millennials expect information to be high-quality and transparent, buying from (and into) brands they can trust – which almost feels alien compared to the traditions, closed circuits and the mystery that’s associated with today’s art market.

Another interesting application of Big Data in the art world is taking place online, with brands like Artsy and Sotheby’s snapping up ArtAdvisor and Thread Genius, respectively. Both acquired art-tech startups specialize in recommendation engines, aspiring to become the ‘Netflix’ or ‘Spotify’ of the art world. By crunching a variety of data sets, these applications provide personalized recommendations of artists and even individual pieces that a user might be interested in.

To summarize, with our industry understanding and the latest insights from our panel discussion at Deloitte’s 11th Art & Finance Conference, it’s clear that Big Data is happening in the art world, and we can expect a lot more to come. While accessing credible, verified transaction data remains to be of the biggest barriers, the future for the art market is looking more transparent and much bigger, as technology helps soften geographical boundaries for art collectors.

With more access to rich data, like Arius art data sets, the art market will become more knowledgeable about the physical art piece, helping reduce fraud with digital fingerprinting, and even reducing costs associated with degradation risks, because signs of aging can be identified, and even predicted, sooner.

We’re excited about the future in art technology and look forward to receiving Deloitte’s 2019 Art and Finance report. Find out more information about the report and download the 2017 edition on Deloitte’s site.

Find Out More About Our Technology

Arius Takes the Stage at Deloitte Art & Finance Conference

October 24th, 2018 Posted by Art News, Behind the Scenes, Media Buzz 0 comments on “Arius Takes the Stage at Deloitte Art & Finance Conference”


We are pleased to announce that Arius will be part of the speaker line up at Deloitte’s 11th Art and Finance conference, in Luxembourg on October 26.

As a sponsor of this year’s conference, Arius is supporting the 2019 Deloitte Art and Finance report and will be contributing to the much-awaited panel discussions scheduled to take place at the conference.

The Deloitte Art and Finance Conference is an integral event, putting the spotlight on the role of technology in the worlds of art and finance. This year’s conference features 5 core themes:


  • The Challenges to Deploy Blockchain in the Art Market to Allow Fractional Investment in Artworks
  • Art, Law and Technology: What Are the Main Challenges?
  • Risk Management: How Technology Can Support Trust in the Art Market
  • Big Data and Artificial Intelligence: How to Improve Analytics, Financial Decision and Experience in the Art Market
  • Investment in ArtTech Companies


Arius CEO, Paul Lindahl, will be partaking in the panel discussion about how big data and artificial intelligence improve analytics, financial decision making and experiences in the art market. Paul will be highlighting how our technology and rich data sets can be utilized to help tackle some of the art world’s biggest challenges when it comes to big data and market transparency.


The discussion will be taking place at 3PM-4PM CEST. If you are in a different time zone, make sure to tune to into our twitter feed, @ariustechnology and follow the hashtag, #DeloitteArtFinance, for updates from the conference throughout the day!

For more info regarding the conference, visit:

3D Scanning & Digitization – Uncovering New Possibilities for Art Conservation

August 25th, 2018 Posted by Art Education, Art News, Behind the Scenes, For Art Lovers 0 comments on “3D Scanning & Digitization – Uncovering New Possibilities for Art Conservation”

As technology progresses, science continuously gets integrated into the profession of conservation. Historic paintings are subjected to a variety of conservation efforts; however, it always begins with an examination. At Arius, our 3D scanning technology maps the colour and geometry of a painting to unveil data hidden to the naked eye – without ever contacting the surface.

La Mer Agitee - Monet

The National Research Council Canada (NRC) developed the foundations of our technology, which was used at The Louvre to scan the Mona Lisa, before being adopted by Arius Technology in 2015.

Developing a close relationship with the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, has allowed Arius engineers to refine and perfect our technology by working with conservation experts such as Stephen Gritt. Gritt is the Director of Conservation and Technical Research at the Gallery, where he has been fortunate enough to work on restoring a number of paintings, including pieces by the great master, Claude Monet. Inspired by Gritt’s philosophy, Arius understands that the job of a conservationist is to do “the minimum to get the painting to talk in its own voice again.”

3D scanning for art conservation allows us to uncover data that can examine details finer than anything a human eye could spot; more specifically, finer than one-tenth of a human hair. By inspecting the surface of the painting first through digital models, restorers have the opportunity to complete a detailed restoration plan, and even prototypes of the results, before beginning the physical process.

Our technology also has the potential for conservators to reach further back into the past and experiment within the digital file, turning back time by restoring original pigments and allowing the artist’s original brushstrokes to sing once again.

Discover more as we talk to Stephen Gritt about how we digitally restored a Monet masterpiece:

Explore Amazing Virtual Reality Museum Tours, Part II

June 22nd, 2018 Posted by Art News, Behind the Scenes, Digital Art, For Art Lovers, Living with Art 0 comments on “Explore Amazing Virtual Reality Museum Tours, Part II”

Museums have always been at the centre point of showcasing the world’s treasures in grand halls and galleries, while also trying to preserve our history for generations to come. However, with virtual reality technology, the future of how we visit museums is adapting quickly. This global movement is allowing art to become more accessible to the masses while ensuring our cultural heritage is preserved.

This piece is the second in a two-part series that explores how museums are embracing technology through the use of virtual reality. In Part I, it was discussed how world-renowned museums are using VR technology to enhance the visitor experience and make public art more accessible. This piece will outline a select number of virtual museums that are based solely online. These new museums will bring artwork that is found all over the world to a single location and will reveal private collections that can now be viewed through online, 3D means.

Feature Photo Source: Tech Crunch

1. The Kremer Museum

The Kremer Collection is a privately-owned collection by George and llomer Kremer. It is composed of artwork by historical artists such as Rembrandt, Van Rijn, and Frans Hals.  Now, these old masters have received a whole new virtual treatment. Using VR technology, visitors will be able to explore this private collection and view the surface of each painting, allowing them to better see all colours and textures. Additionally, they will be able to view the rear side of the painting to see the artwork’s provenance, something which is impossible to do at regular museums. George Kremer shares the idea behind the operation, “Imagine taking the museum to the people, instead of taking the people to the museum.” Visitors will be able to experience a true museum atmosphere regardless of where they are.

George Kremer has spent nearly two decades collecting 74 pieces of historical artwork. Now in collaboration with his son, Joël Kremer, who is a former employee at Google, new technology has been merged with the family’s legacy. In the beginning, the family thought about the idea to open this gallery as a brick and mortar building, however, costs and location were limiting factors. By having the artwork be based solely online, visitors of the museum are not limited by location, ensuring greater accessibility.

2. Open Heritage, Google Arts & Culture 

Google has partnered with CyArk, a 3D laser scanning non-profit organization, to create a new project devoted to helping preserve historical sites and landmarks around the world. Their digital conservation efforts allow visitors of Open Heritage to view 26 different world heritage sites and have even resulted in new information being learned by historians.

“With modern technology, we can capture these monuments in fuller detail than ever before, including the color and texture of surfaces alongside the geometry captured by the laser scanners with millimeter precision in 3D,” Chance Coughenour, a Digital Archaeologist and program manager with the Google Arts and Culture division, said in a press release. “These detailed scans can also be used to identify areas of damage and assist restoration efforts.”

3. The VR Museum of Fine Art

VR Musuem of Fine Art

Photo Source: VR Focus

The VR Museum of Fine Art allows visitors to embark on a journey that would otherwise require you to visit over 10 different countries. This latest technology enables you to walk around, duck under, and even hug famous sculptures and artwork; that’s right, no guards will be telling you to step away from the artwork! To help learn more about each piece, informative holographic plaques are offered. Thanks to virtual technologies, art lovers can interact with art in a totally new way.

4. The DSL Collection 

The DSL Private Collection was created in 2005 with a focus towards Chinese contemporary art. It is unique to others as a cap of 160-200 is kept on the number of works in the collection. In an effort to share the private collection with the rest of the world, Sylvain and Dominique Levy, the collection owners, made the world’s first VR Museum. Since 2005, the DSL Collection has been devoted to making it a nomadic collection and has refused to be fixed in one spot. As such, creating a virtual museum fit with the collection’s vision. It features work by Ai Weiwei and Zeng Fanzhi as well as younger artists such as Song Yuanyuan and Zhao Zhao.

The future of VR and art is dependent on many external circumstances. Of course, the primary cause is the development of technology in this sector. However, users must be willing to adopt this feature and push the limitations of how it can be used. We have only begun to scratch the surface of what art and science can achieve together. At Arius, we are also devoted to expanding these capabilities. Our technology has allowed for the creation of new contemporary art work through new means, has lead to groundbreaking research, and has made art more accessible. It showcases that the way we live with art is changing quickly.

This piece of the two-part series emphasizes key players in the museum-art industry that have leveraged the technology in new ways; but most importantly, it highlights that the future of art is very, very bright.