Fake £100k painting may go up in smoke

An art-loving businessman faces the prospect of seeing one of his treasured paintings thrown into a furnace after it featured on a BBC show about fakes and forgeries.

Martin Lang, a property developer from Leeds, bought what he thought was an original work by Russian-born artist Marc Chagall in 1992 for £100,000 (€121,880) and more than 20 years later his son called in experts from BBC1’s Fake Or Fortune to examine it.

Viewers of last night’s show saw the watercolour, a nude said to date from 1909-10, undergo a series of tests in a bid to prove if it was genuine before it was sent to the Chagall Committee in Paris.

But the committee, which is run by the artist’s grandchildren, said it was a fake and told the show that under French law they will have the painting burned.

The show’s host, Fiona Bruce, said: “The only way for Martin to authenticate his painting was with the Chagall Committee, he had no other choice. But it was never made clear to him that if they didn’t like the look of his painting that they would burn it. How can anyone ever approach this committee with a painting again if this is how they react?”

Mr Lang, 63, has asked the committee to mark the painting as a forgery and then return it or guarantee he will be reimbursed if it is later ruled as genuine.

He said: “They say they want to counter forgery but I think this will have the opposite effect of deterring honest people like myself from coming forward.”


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