Where Art Forgeries Meet Their Match

The New York Times | Anita Gates

Jamie Martin has some advice for criminals: “Never wear synthetic fibers while making a forgery.” They’ll show up in the lab. And everybody knows that Vermeer didn’t wear polyester. Mr. Martin shared that wisdom while showing a guest around his fifth-floor laboratory-office at Sotheby’s New York on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It’s a large, windowless white room filled with technology, some of the equipment owned by only a handful of institutions worldwide. Just past the locked door, with its laser-radiation danger warning, cameras were aimed at the vibrant oils of a Flemish old master. Mr. Martin described another painting in his office, seen only from the back, as “probably from the 16th century.” (The owners had not given him permission to show it.)

Mr. Martin, one of those lucky men who still look boyish in their late 50s, knows some forgers are careless, like the man whose supposed Jackson Pollock was sold to the Knoedler Gallery in Manhattan with the signature “Jackson Pollok.” That was part of a major 2016 art-world scandal, which Mr. Martin discussed on “60 Minutes.”…read more

Image: Jamie Martin, the head of Sotheby’s scientific research department, in his lab with some of the equipment he uses to study paintings. Credit Stephen Speranza for The New York Times