In a twist strangely echoed by the actor’s recent art-world novel An Object of Beauty, Der Spiegel reports that Steve Martin is the victim of a German art forgery ring. Martin purchased what he thought was Heinrich Campendonk‘s “Landscape With Horses” (1915) for $850,000. Turns out, the painting was from the “Knops” or “Jägers” art collections devised by a group of German swindlers caught in 2010, the newspaper writes.
The painting in question (seen above) is a rather fanciful expressionist composition caught somewhere between Marc Chagall’s floaty surrealism and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner‘s acid colors. I would say it looks kind of like a Lisa Frank pastiche without the dolphins, but maybe that’s unfair to Martin’s artistic sensibilities. In any case, the suspected forgers are now in jail, without the ability to create any more day-glo horse pictures.
Though the painting was sold to another collector in 2006 through Christie’s, Martin isn’t accused of any wrongdoing, notes the New York Times. The actor has bought fakes in the past — “once or twice in my life,” he says, “and each time you become more and more cautious.” So lesson to all of you would-be art buyers out there: look twice before you leap. But if you happen to buy wrong, just pass it off to someone else before the scandal breaks.
Also, how awesome of a last name is Campendonk?
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.