Fact, Fiction, Fables, and Forgeries

Art forgery and fraud is a centuries old phenomenon, rife with a cast of personalities with varying degrees of talent, deception and intent. Ostensibly produced for financial gain, art forgery is not always what it seems. Some of the most notorious forgeries have been proliferated by artists who seek revenge on the establishment. Others are simply interested in seeing if their skills are on par with the masters. And, on rare occasion, a forger may just be in it for philanthropic reasons.

Join us for this captivating series, which delves into some of the most fascinating stories in the history of art forgery. Experts will share accounts on how some of the world’s leading museums have been doggedly misled by profiteer’s networks and some of the most unassuming characters. In addition to scholarly research, learn how forensic science contributes in the detection of fakes and forgeries.

This fall, all of our MUSCARELLE EXPLORATIONS events will be available virtually. We hope you will attend, through your computer, every one of our Fact, Fiction, Fables and Forgeries programs!

Lectures are Free for Members, W&M students, faculty, and staff.
Non-Members: $10
Film and Book Club Events are Free.


Woman Sitting in Chair by Elmyr de Hory (Hungarian, 1906 – 1976), in the style of Henri Matisse (French, 1869 – 1954)

October 29

The Art and Science of Detecting Fakes

6:00 PM

Join Colette Loll, the Founder, and Director of Art Fraud Insights, as she details the stories behind the headlines and describes the scoundrels that perpetrated the frauds that were featured in her groundbreaking exhibition Treasures on Trial. She will describe fake-busting techniques used to determine authenticity, and while focused on art and antiques, will also discuss objects from other collector categories such as fine wine, sports memorabilia, and most recently, her project with ancient texts.

December 10

Microscopes and Death Threats: Case Studies in Art Forensics

6:00 PM

Join us for a special lecture with Thiago Piwowarczyk, Founder and Owner of New York Art Forensics, a firm dedicated to full-service art consulting for the purposes of authentication, attribution and conservation. This lecture will focus on how art authentication investigations can be scientifically challenging, but sometimes, the challenge lies elsewhere. From historical research to exposing scams, join us as we examine some past cases tackled by New York Art Forensics.


October 30 – November 12

Art and Craft Film Streaming

Streaming online for registered guests

Art and Craft starts out as a cat-and-mouse art caper, rooted in questions of authorship and authenticity—but what emerges is an intimate story of obsession and the universal need for community, appreciation, and purpose. Mark Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. His impressive body of work spans thirty years, covering a wide range of painting styles and periods that includes 15th century icons, Picasso, and even Walt Disney… after duping a tenacious museum registrar who ultimately discovers the decades-long practice, Landis must confront his own legacy and a chorus of museum professionals clamoring for him to stop.

2014 | CC | Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes

November 12

Art and Craft Film Discussion

6:00 PM

Join us for a virtual discussion and Q&A with Art and Craft documentary film directors and producers Jennifer Grausman and Sam Cullman moderated by art fraud specialist Colette Loll. This engaging documentary film follows the unique story of art forger Mark Landis and provides a window into how and why he created fraudulent works of art meant to deceive museums across the country.

After screening the film, please submit your questions for the panel to museum@wm.edu no later than 12:00 PM on November 12 to be part of the discussion. Participants will also have an opportunity to ask questions live as time permits.

Muscarelle Reads

For our next installment of MUSCARELLE READS, we are reading Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo. Provenance delves into the astonishing narrative of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate cons in the history of art forgery. Stretching from London to Paris to New York, investigative reporters Salisbury and Sujo recount the tale of infamous con man and unforgettable villain John Drewe and his accomplice, the affable artist John Myatt. Together they exploited the archives of British art institutions to irrevocably legitimize the hundreds of works they forged, many of which are still considered genuine and hang in prominent museums and private collections today.

December 3

Provenance Book Discussion

6:00 PM

Join David Brashear, Museum Director, and Carrie Cooper, Dean of University Libraries, William & Mary, for a lively discussion on Provenance. While it reads like a well-plotted thriller, filled with unforgettable characters and told at a breakneck pace, this is most certainly not fiction. Join our discussion about this meticulously researched and captivating account of one of the greatest cons in the history of art forgery.