Russian avant-garde forgery case ends in convictions and disappointments

[from The Guardian]

trial in Germany many hoped would help crack down on a flourishing trade in Russian avant-garde forgeries on the international art market has fallen short of its target after a dispute between two divorced art historians left judges unable to decide whether many disputed works were genuine or fake.

On Thursday afternoon, Wiesbaden regional court sentenced art dealer Itzhak Zarug, 72, and his business partner Moez Ben Hazaz, 45, to 32 months and three years in prison respectively for having knowingly sold forged pictures and invented the provenance of paintings by El Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich as well as constructivists such Alexander Rodchenko.

For many art experts, however, the ruling was disappointing given the scale of the operation involved. When police arrested the Tel Aviv-born Zarug and German-Tunisian national Ben Hazaz in 2013 after a tip-off from Israeli intelligence, it was hailed as one of the biggest swoops against organised art crime in recent German history.


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