Brilliant British artist, John Myatt, spent four months in prison for forging the masters’ works. It’s estimated that he sold 200 forgeries and London’s Scotland Yard announced that his crime “was the biggest art fraud of the 20th Century.”
He has the incredible ability of mimicking other artists’ styles; a talent he learnt whilst attending art school, and what started out as reproducing paintings for the amusement of his friends, became a dishonest enterprise when, after placing an advert for “Genuine Fakes,” and a regular customer, John Drewe, told him one day he had sold a painting to Christies as an original, Myatt became a willing accomplice to the fraud with Drewe, and created many paintings in the styles of several of history’s famous masters, which duped some of the most prestigious galleries.
Today, John Myatt sells his fake artworks honestly, as Legitimate Fakes, and even places a chip on the back of the canvas which cannot be removed without cutting it out. He paints with emulsion paint and K-Y Jelly, a mixture he says that dries quickly but is hardy, reminiscent of the original pigments.
His remarkable story is now in development to be made into a Hollywood movie, called “Genuine Fakes.” A book, called “Provenance” by Laney Salisbury was published by Penguin and three TV series for Sky Arts have been produced: “Mastering the Art,” “Brush with Fame” a “Fame to Frame.”
I came across this man on You Tube, when, as I often do, I was looking at videos on art, and in particular the techniques of John Singer Sargent, and discovered the “Forger’s Masterclass” series. Myatt explains the techniques and secrets of the masters with students who are asked to recreate a piece in the style of a famous artist. It’s refreshing and very insightful, and I intend to watch the entire series and then the one “Fame to Frame” as well!
Not only is it educational, but it’s inspiring for me me as an artist, for although I don’t want to emulate others’ work, the influence of other artists I admire helps me in development of my own unique style and grow as an artist.
Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think of this mastery, for I have to say, that apart from the crime he committed, all part of an astonishing story, he is extraordinarily talented and although he has paid for his crime, he is giving us something back by sharing his knowledge so we can learn too.