FIVE fake paintings claiming to be originals from Spanish masters Goya and Velazquez have been seized by Valencian police working for the regional Historical Heritage Group.
The works were being sold for a total of €76 million with ‘Portrait of Mariana of Austria’ by Valazquez getting a price tag of €50 million.
The original painting is currently on display at Madrid’s Prado Museum.
The other four works were claimed to be Francisco de Goya paintings.
Valencian Justice Minister, Gabriela Bravo, said that four people were being investigated for fraud and the attempted sales were accompanied by ‘abundant documentation aimed to deceive and gain the trust of purchasers’.
Bravo added that police inquiries started at the beginning of the year and verified that the fakes were being offered to different buyers via several art dealers in Castellon and Valencia provinces.
Officers were helped in the identification of the four Goya forgeries by Manuela Mena- the world’s foremost expert in the Spanish painter.
Two of the Goya fakes were altered copies of portraits done by the neoclassical painter Anton Rafael Mengs, with the originals in the Prado Museum.
A third was an Italian copy dating back to the 17th century and the fourth work being sold for €4 million was said by Manuela Mena to have been of ‘low quality’ and not even forged by a professional painter.
Gabriela Bravo said that the ‘criminal practice of forging devalues the original works and some of the greatest painters of our history’.
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