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art value 8
5. Jahrgang 2011

Editorial

Dear Readers,

Based on statistics, the combined revenues of the major art auction houses equaled approximately ten billion US dollars in 2010. This amount signifies an enormous increase in profits, which have almost reached their pre-crisis level. In contrast, statistics tell us less about the revenues generated by art galleries. This number will not have doubled over the past year as it has in auction houses, but the increase is undoubtedly significant.

There are no reliable statistics, only conjecture, regarding the scale of the illicit art market, although we certainly know that the damage caused by forgeries and theft is enormous. The contributions in this issue of art value trace the interrelation between the art market and art crimes; they show where and why the art market is particularly susceptible to forgeries, and they demonstrate how the gullibility of the involved parties provides the optimal gateway to forgers and cheats.

Forgeries have been a part of art history since antiquity. A constant in the history of forgery is its criminal impulse. The methods of art forgers, however, have become increasingly refined and strongly reflect the reception forms, expectations and hopes of the art public in their respective time periods. Art forgers have a keen instinct for what is marketable. In this respect, the history of art forgery mirrors the conditions and relationships of the respective periods.

Forgery, theft, destruction: Their commonality is to subvert the unique, paradoxically with the effect that the power of the artwork’s uniqueness is confirmed and almost inflated. Curator Kathleen Rahn’s presentation of the Swiss artist Shahryar Nashat complements the subject matter of the other contributions.

Wishing you a rewarding read,

Tilman Welther

Editor-in-chief