8 Apr, 2021 @ 17:45
1 min read

A JOB FOR DEL BOY: Police in Spain’s Valencia seize three fake paintings by El Greco, Goya and Modigliani valued at €12.5 million

Forged Paintings Valencia
The forgeries seized by the Valencian regional police force

VALENCIA regional police force has seized three forged Goya, El Greco and Modigliani paintings worth €12.5 million on the black market.

The Historic Heritage department of the Generalitat’s Autonomous Police confiscated the artworks from a builder and amateur collector in Toledo (Castilla-La Mancha), which was the final residence of historic Renaissance artist El Greco.

According to regional government sources, the owner had placed the pieces on sale claiming they were authentic, with the help of a network of art merchants who sent out emails to international collectors in exchange for 10% of the profits.

Forged Paintings Valencia 3
The forgeries seized by the Valencian regional police force

The sale of the fake Modigliani was reportedly backed up with several forged documents certifying the alleged authenticity of the painting, with the aim of selling it to buyers in Switzerland, Mexico and Germany for an asking price of €8.5 million.

However, researchers at the Valencian Conservation, Restoration and Investigation Institute found that the piece was not an original Modigliani, but rather a forgery made by an anonymous painter who copied the original artist’s style and theme.

The pieces by El Greco, sold for €2.5m, and Goya – €1.5m – were also apparently certified as originals, but were uncovered as fake by experts at the Toledo’s Museo Sefardi and the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.

Forged Paintings Valencia 2

According to police, the owner had acquired the pieces either as an investment or as payment in exchange for building work, amassing a collection of around 1,000 pieces despite having almost no knowledge whatsoever about art.    

Last summer, the authorities already confiscated five fake paintings in his possession, allegedly by the artists Ignacio Pinazo, Emilio Grau, Celso Lagar, and Raimundo de Madrazo.

Forged Paintings Valencia

The presence of forgeries on the international art market is a persistent problem according to police investigators, who insist that work by famous painters is usually certified by a qualified specialist on that particular artist, and not by an anonymous historian or antiques’ dealer.

The same sources add that the important thing to look for when buying a painting is not how many official-looking documents accompany it, but rather who has issued the certificate of authenticity.


Glenn Wickman

Glenn is a trained and experienced journalist, having obtained a BA Hons degree in Journalism and Communication Studies with Spanish from Middlesex University (London) in 2001.
Since then he has worked on several English-language newspapers in Alicante Province, including 11 years at the Costa Blanca News.
He is trilingual in English, Spanish and Catalán/Valenciano, a qualified ELT teacher and translator with a passion for the written word.
After several years in Barcelona, Glenn has now returned to the Costa Blanca (Alicante), from where he will cover local stories as well as Valencia and Castellón/Costa Azahar.
Please drop him a line if you have any news that you think should be covered in either of these areas, he will gladly get in touch!

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