Foundation Uncovers Jackson Pollock Forgery Scam

The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) recently discovered four fake works allegedly by Jackson Pollock. The works were brought to its research team for authentication by three different owners. They began to surface in 2013 and are said to be sourced from the collection of James Brennerman, who IFAR believes is a false identity, the Art Newspaper reports.

Seen as a “significant threat” to art buyers, the recent Pollock fakes join the many others identified by IFAR. The organization has authenticated works by the artist since 1995, when the Pollock-Krasner Authentication Board disbanded. They have seen photographs and evidence of eleven Pollock fakes, all allegedly from the Brennerman collection.

So far, IFAR is aware of two dozen possible fakes by various artists, and it suspects that there are many more. Documents found with the counterfeit works suggest that Brennerman amassed around seven hundred of Pollock’s works. They also refer to paintings by Abstract Expressionists and Impressionists such as Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Childe Hassam, Mark Rothko, Édouard Manet, Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell, and Maxim Gorky.

Buyers were told that Brennerman was a German immigrant who lived in Chicago in the 1940s. He supposedly bought 748 of Pollock’s works from collector Charles Farmer, who allegedly purchased them from the artist’s widow, Lee Krasner. Characterized as a recluse who eventually went mad, Brennerman is said to have left his mysterious collection to his servants, Bert and Ethel Ramsey, when he died in 1974. However, when IFAR looked further into this narrative, it could not find any record of Farmer or the Ramseys.

Sharon Flescher, IFAR’s executive director, said that the fakes are affecting “a whole network of people who are not professional dealers, a different world from what we’re used to.” The scheme is said to target “modest collectors” instead of major art centers and cases are unfolding along the East Coast. The organization said they still do not know who is behind the apparent scam and suggested that it might be time for the government to investigate further.