In the first installment of a seven-part series, Errol Morris asks: “Why do people believe in imaginary returns, frauds and fakes?” Morris bypasses Madoff and begins his inquiry with Han van Meegeren, a Dutch painter who sold his forgeries of Vermeer paintings to the Nazis. Van Meegeren was first charged with collaborating with the Third Reich for selling Holland’s patrimony away to the enemy. But when he revealed the paintings he sold to the Nazis were forgeries, the art world was shocked. In fact, some prominent art critics refused to believe they were fakes, and the painter was made to create another forgery (of “Christ in the Temple”) to prove he could do it. In tomorrow’s installment, Morris interviews Edward Dolnick, author of The Forger’s Spell to learn more about Van Meegeren and how he was able to fool even the most trained eyes with his forgeries.
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