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Art exhibition closes in Genoa following
Doge's Palace © Jensens

Art exhibition closes in Genoa following ‘fake’ paintings

17/07/17Culture

Authorities in Genoa, Italy, have seized 21 suspect artworks supposedly by Amedeo Modigliani after confirming that several paintings in a major exhibition at the Doge’s Palace were likely imitations. 

The foundation sponsoring the Genoa show decided to close the exhibit three days early in order to collaborate with the latest investigation enveloping the Italian expressionist painter and sculptor.

“They did the right thing. This was absolutely shameful,” said Carlo Pepi, the 79-year-old Tuscan art critic and collector who alerted authorities about the suspected fraud.

“A Michelangelo is a Michelangelo. A Picasso is a Picasso. But when a painting is a fake, it is missing its soul, and these were missing that three-dimensional elegance of Modigliani – even a child could see these were crude fakes,” he added.

Pepi has publicly called out suspected fakes before, but this time, infuriated by the large scale of the apparent fraud, he decided to make a formal complaint with the Carabinieri art fraud unit in Rome.

French art historian Marc Restellini, who is founder of the Pinacothèque de Paris and a Modigliani expert, supported him, calling the exhibit “dubious”.

Three people, including the curator from Lugano, Switzerland, are under investigation.

The Doge’s Palace released a statement ‘offering maximum collaboration’ and noting it considered itself an injured party, having suffered a setback to its reputation as a prestigious international art partner.

“They did the right thing. It is rare,” Pepi said. “I’ve been fighting this my whole life, but we need an army of people like me. More art historians must try to stop this influx of fakes. Otherwise they will end up destroying poor Modigliani.”