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Fakes Flood Market January 28, 2002
by Mark Rose

The depredations of looters in China and the possibility that a Chinese antiquity bought on the art market might be seized have been well documented in ARCHAEOLOGY: "Gansu Getaway" (September/October 1998), "Off With Their Heads" (October 28, 1999), and U.S. Seeks Return Of Stolen Chinese Wall Panel (March 30, 2000). Now, forgery is another reason for people to stop purchasing Asian artifacts that lack a real provenience.

In the February 2002 issue of Art & Antiques, Anna Bennett, who heads London University's Center for the Scientific Investigation of Works of Art, estimates that half of the bronzes she examines are fake and that "roughly 90 percent of the bronzes on the market are not what they are cracked up to be." The same issue notes cases seen by Isadore M. Chait, owner of I.M. Chait Gallery in Beverly Hills and a consultant to museums and law enforcement agencies. A Chinese vase bought for $200,000 was actually worth $2,000, according to Chait, while a $600,000 ceramic set proved to be fake. He says, as quoted by Art & Antiques, "I have Evian bottles older than some of the things brought to me."

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America