Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Most Successful Art Forger in America

Father Arthur Scott, a Jesuit priest, made arrangements with the curator of the prestigious art museum to donate a painting by Curran from his mother's estate. When the priest arrived with the art work, the curator was taken aback by Father Scott's appearance.

The priest was pale and sickly looking and seemed to suffer from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). He had trouble following and concentrating on their conversation. However, the painting was an important gift and the priest also told the curator that when the estate was settled, a financial donation would follow.

The museum gave Father Scott  a museum tour. As the priest left the museum and stepped into his red Cadillac, he turned and blessed the gathering while saying the words, "Pax vobiscum."

Only later when the catalog registrar placed the painting under a black light was it discovered that the painting was a fake. Furthermore, a search of records had nothing about Father Scott. However, there was much about Mark Augustus Landis, a forger, who used the priest alias (among other names) to "gift" museums with art.

Landis has been donating faked art for more than 30 years - often in the name of one of his deceased parents. The thing is that because he gives the art away, he hasn't broken any laws! This alone separates him from all the other famous forgers. (The estimate of fake works is more than 100 from such famous artists as Picasso.)

The University of Cincinnati decided to recognize Landis. They curated an exhibit of his art beginning April Fool's Day titled, "Faux Real." Landis himself not only donated 60 paintings to the show, but also his priest habit! Now that's what the Brits would call a "cheeky bloke." 

(Here are original arts by Paul Signac and Charles Courtney Curran with the Landis' fake below each)


  1. Does he have a sense of humor? Love the image of the priest driving off in a red Cadillac.

  2. I enjoyed reading your 150th blog - congratulations! Ave

  3. What he's doing isn't even a crime! LOL!

  4. I think it's awesome! I wish I had that talent. The art world is to wrapped up in themselves to think that "originals" are better or worth more than what artists can do today. I don't think art forgery should even be a crime. The police have better things to do with thier time.