Fakes and copies
Sculptor finds alleged copies of his work in corporate collection
The “fakes” were bought in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games
By Tom Flynn. Web only
Published online: 14 July 2011
NEWPORT BEACH. The California-based sculptor Don Wakefield recently discovered what seemed to be one of his large-scale, granite sculptures in a private corporate collection in Newport Beach, California. The problem is that he didn't make the work. Wakefield says the sculpture, which stands outside Seven Corporate Plaza, is a copy of Untitled, a unique abstract piece he and an artist friend, Joseph “Chick” Glickman, designed and created together in 1992. The 6ft by 4ft original is installed in the home of Glickman's son in Chicago, Illinois.
Now it seems the alleged copy, which has been given the title Human Natures: Many Faces, 2005, may be one of several made by an anonymous Chinese stone carver in Beijing.
The alleged fake is installed outside the headquarters of Olen Properties Corporation, which is owned by the Florida-based billionaire property developer and convicted tax felon Igor Olenicoff who has real estate holdings in California, Arizona and Florida.
Two more alleged copies of the work are located at another Olen Corp premises a few miles away. The pieces have the identical style of bronze title plate, in each case giving the name of the work and the date it was created, but not the artist's signatures or artist's names.
When asked about Human Natures: Many Faces, Olenicoff said that the sculpture was acquired at a sculpture park in Beijing during the Olympic Games in 2008, but declined to reveal the exact source of the piece, or the identity of the craftsman. It was one of nine works made by the Chinese craftsman, three of which were bought by Olenicoff. A further sculpture was adapted in China after Olenicoff requested that a section be removed to accommodate a stainless steel teardrop form.
Olenicoff declined to comment on the allegation that the works are copies of Wakefield's 1992 sculpture.
A Beijing-based stone-carving company estimated that to make a single copy of Wakefield's sculpture based on a photograph would cost $1,250, with the price dropping to $950 per unit for three. According to Wakefield, to make an original, unique work today of the kind he and Glickman made in 1992 would cost around $35,000.
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