(by Pablo Burgués)
Let’s go on with our story… The appearance of false paintings by Picasso, Matisse or Modigliani on the walls of some of the most important museums and art galleries in the world meant a huge blow for the art world. The police investigation after the scandal pointed towards Elmyr de Hory, a kind gentleman from Hungary who was settled in Ibiza and who went from anonymity to world trending topic overnight.
Indeed, far from hiding or apologizing for his pranks, Elmyr gave a lot of interviews where he boasted about his exploits and made fun of those who called themselves “art experts”. “None of them has ever rejected to buy any of my paintings”, he told. “They are a bunch of jerks that only smell each other’s ass” (well, he didn’t really said this, but he thought about it very often).
He also took advantage of the media interest to protect himself from those who called him a forger, as he stated he had never copied a painting in his life. What he did was to paint new works “in the style of” this artist or the other. Indeed, he even stated without blushing that mankind was indebted to him, because he had offered the chance to see those paintings that the artists had no time to paint when they were alive.
Besides his extreme cheekiness, it is true that his forgeries were extraordinary, to the point that painters as Kees van Dongen or Pablo Picasso himself even identified as their own paintings that in fact had been painted by Elmyr.
The popular foolishness for this personality was such that some of his paintings came up to cost more than 100.000€, and due to this soon there were forgers who started to forge Elmyr’s forgeries… the ultimate, you see!
Undoubtedly those were the golden years of our friend, though there was one thing that kept him awake: the fact that any of the countries where he had sold his forgeries requested him to the Spanish government and he went to jail.
To stop tempting fate, Elmyr ordered his partner Fernand Legros not to sell any other painting or, otherwise, he would make the list of all his forgeries public. Legros, instead of getting angry with him, took it easy and, as a sign of affection and gratitude to the artist, the next day he hung his dog from the branch of a tree with the moving message: You’ll be the next.
Left high and dry without his dog, Elmyr continued living happily in his country house in Sant Josep de Sa Talaia, until on 11 December 1976 the greatest of his fears became true. After several years trying to do it, French justice at last had got an extradition order for him. However, he never landed on French ground.
To be continued… (just one more week, I swear it).
Translation: Dora Sales
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