Fakes and copies
Modigliani Institute president arrested
Forgery unit of Italian police seize works attributed to the artists, along with suspect authenticity certificates
By Gareth Harris. Web only
Published online: 24 January 2013
Christian Parisot, the president of the Modigliani Institute in Rome, has been arrested by the Italian art forgery unit after a two-year investigation. According to the Italian regional paper Il Tirreno, the police seized 13 prints, four bronze sculptures, and a painting attributed to Amedeo Modigliani, along with certificates of authenticity. The Italian police say the alleged fakes are worth €6.6m. Both Parisot and the art dealer Matteo Vignapiano have been placed under house arrest.
The police investigation dates back to 2010 when the police removed 22 allegedly false works from an exhibition organised by Parisot, “Modigliani: From Classicism to Cubism”, at the Archaeological Museum of Palestrina. When asked if he denied the charges, Parisot declined to comment while Vignapiano could not be reached for comment.
Last year, Modigliani’s granddaughter Laure Nechtschein Modigliani, the daughter of Jeanne Modigliani, asserted her droit morale over the artist’s canon. “Laure Modigliani, the only living descendant of the artist, currently holds this right over the works. She has previously allowed Christian Parisot to exercise the moral rights, although she has not renewed this agreement since it last expired. M. Parisot therefore has no such power,” said her Italian lawyer Fabrizio Lemme (The Art Newspaper, May 2012).
Parisot responded that he had managed initially with Jeanne Modigliani (Laure’s mother) and, after her death, “the author’s moral rights of the artist Amedeo Modigliani” in conjunction with Laure Nechtschein Modigliani. He added: “It is well known that the author’s moral rights cannot be transmitted but that does not mean I cannot be the recipient of the Modigliani Archives, due to my deep knowledge and expertise.”
The estate of the early 20th-century artist is one of the most problematic in the art world. There are at least five catalogues raisonnés of the artist’s work including a volume by Ambrogio Ceroni, last updated in 1972. The art scholar and Modigliani specialist Marc Restellini has been working for over ten years on a catalogue raisonné of the paintings. This catalogue, which is being prepared under the aegis of the Wildenstein Institute, was initially expected to be completed in 2006; Restellini tells The Art Newspaper that he is still working on the publication. Parisot has also spent years compiling a catalogue raisonné.
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