Forgery scandal surrounding Lee Ufan’s work grows in Korea with three arrests

The artist himself has denied that the works investigated by police are fakes


Three people, a pair of married art dealers and a painter, were arrested by the metropolitan police in Seoul, South Korea last week, for their suspected involvement in a counterfeiting ring, the Korea Time reports. They are accused of having produced and sold 40 fakes from two series by the artist Lee Ufan, From Point and From Line, between November 2012 and 2014. The two gallerists allegedly paid the painter €240,600 to forge the works, then sold them to a dealer for around €2.3m.

An investigation had already led to the indictment of a gallery last June for bringing in $1.1m from the sale of three Lee Ufan fakes, but the police have dismissed any links between the two incidents. In both cases, the forgers acknowledged that the works were fakes. But in a bizarre twist, Lee Ufan himself has said that the suspected fakes were in reality made by him, contradicting the scientific analyses that had been carried out on the works.

In early October, the Korean Times reported that the culture ministry intended to adopt a law regulating “the transaction of works of art”. The main provision is that galleries and auction houses must obtain a license to officially establish their status as a legitimate business to sell works of art.