ShareThis Page

Found painting a work of art by Modigliani or an artful hoax?

| Saturday, June 18, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Restorer Luana Casaglia examines a painting alleged to be by Italian 20th century master Amedeo Modigliani on Thursday, June 9, 2016, in Spoleto, central Italy.

ROME — It's a story almost too fantastical to be true: A flea market dealer finds a painting near a subway trash bin, submits it to laboratory analysis and emerges convinced he has a Modigliani.

No one would believe it, given the modernist master is one of the most forged artists around.

But a public relations firm in Rome that doubles as the Amedeo Modigliani Institute is claiming a signed portrait of “Odette” could be the real deal. It is putting the work on public view next week, saying it hopes to start an academic debate on its authenticity.

“I assure you, this isn't a fake, and we are dealing with a discovery,” insisted Luciano Renzi, the institute's president and head of an eponymous publicity firm. The institute has no role or expertise in authenticating Modigliani works and has a financial interest in publicizing its exhibit.

The lab it hired refuses to date the painting.

Amedeo Modigliani died in 1920 in Paris at age 35 after a short but intense career that produced masterpieces, many featuring the distinctive lithe necks of his muses.

The painting was discovered as the Amedeo Modigliani Institute tries to recover from a credibility scandal involving forgeries and its past president, Christian Parisot, who was arrested in 2012 on charges he knowingly authenticated fake works. The institute wasn't implicated in the scandal, but its reputation suffered by association.

Experts cautioned that any purported Modigliani must be greeted with an overdose of skepticism, given the propensity for hoaxes and forgeries and the financial interests of all involved. Most significantly, “Odette” has no paper trail of past owners, rendering it virtually unsellable by any reputable gallery and problematic for any serious scholars to consider.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.