(by Pablo Burgués)

As I told you last week, Elmyr de Hory sold his first forgery almost unintentionally, to a rich art lady collector called Lady Campbell. The guy had spent a long time in Paris unsuccessfully trying to make a living by selling his own creations, so when he realized that forging was a very profitable shit he decided to stop being a fool and started forging like mad.  

He stayed day and night working in the tiny flat roof where he hardly lived in Paris and when he had a good bunch of paintings “Picasso style” he went on tour throughout Europe looking for groggy people to whom he could sell them. Those forgeries were really good and were easily sold, so our dear friend was soon compelled to extend his catalogue of imitated authors: Renoir, Matisse, Modigliani…

To explain, to his possible purchasers, how he had so many pieces of art, the guy made up the story that he came from a wealthy aristocratic family from Hungary that had become impoverished and as he needed cash he was compelled to get rid of part of his private collection.

To provide reliability to such a huge lie, Elmyr always had with him a portrait of himself and his brother in first-communion gowns. That portrait, painted by himself, was an imitation of the paintings by Philip Alexius de László, a famous painter from Hungary well-known for his works for the European royalty. Any art expert knew that only somebody who was relevant could have been portrayed by László. So, that master stroke covered De Hory to sell his forgeries.


Soon, Europe became small for him, and so by mid 50s he decided to go out and conquer the United States. One party day he met Fernand Legros and Real Lessard, who became his partners in crime, placing his fakes in galleries, museums and private collections in half of the world.

But in 1959, after several years living life to the full around the States, somebody alerted Elmyr to the fact that the American justice was after his steps. Facing the hardly attractive idea of ending at a humorous jail in Texas, the guy decided to leave the country as a matter of urgency. And as he was no fool, you should not think that he chose to hide at the inhospitable desert of Pakistan or the marshy jungles of Borneo. No, he chose the heavenly coves and lively discos at Ibiza.

The painter, who didn’t like hotels and much less campings, settled in a beautiful peasant house at Sant Josep, and what was going to be a couple of weeks of time off turned into 16 years. During this time Elmyr continued making “art masterpieces” happily. Fakes that his friends Legros and Lessard turned into rich dollars. Until one of those silly days all fell apart…

To be continued…



Pablo Burgués on Instagram and Twitter

Translation: Dora Sales

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