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In his first television interview, the elderly artist whose look-alike paintings in the styles of Abstract Expressionists including Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock fooled experts and sent shock waves through the art world claims he was ”shocked” to learn that his works were sold as newly discovered masterpieces to wealthy collectors for tens of millions of dollars.

“When I made these paintings, I had no idea they would represent them as the real thing to sell,” said Pei Shen Qian in an interview to be broadcast Tuesday on “World News With Diane Sawyer” and “Nightline” as part of an ABC News investigation of the fake art industry and the Long Island fraud ring that flooded the market with over $80 million in forged work.

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Today's modern art forger is capable of producing fake works of art so perfect that even trained experts are unable to spot them. Even down to the most minute details of the pigments, binders, and canvas, these fakes are almost better than the works they're based on. But thanks to a byproduct of the Atomic age, the art world has a potent tool for finding forgeries.

Since the start of the 1960s, the art world—especially the modern art world—has been besieged by a torrent of faked "masterpieces." Peggy Guggenheim (yes, that Guggenheim) was once famously duped into purchasing what was believed to be a canvas painting by French artist Fernand Léger completed around 1913. It hung in her private collection for decades before being revealed as a forgery. This problem only expanded through the 1980s and 1990s as the market for modern art exploded.

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Monday, 19 August 2013 18:52

Artist Behind Knoedler Fakes Identified

The master forger who was responsible for painting most of the fake modernist artworks sold through the Manhattan gallery Knoedler & Company has been identified. Pei-Shen Qian, a 73-year-old Chinese immigrant, created paintings that imitated works by Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Richard Diebenkorn in his home studio in Queens. The works, which disgraced art dealer Glafira Rosales sold through Knoedler, garnered approximately $80 million; Qian was paid a few thousand dollars for each forgery.

Qian, who studied at the prestigious Art Students League, became involved in the scheme when he met Rosales’ boyfriend and colleague, Jose Carlos Bergantiños, in the early 1990s. Over the course of fifteen years, Qian produced at least 63 paintings and drawings in the style of revered Abstract Expressionists, which were then sold by Rosales and former Knoedler employee, Julian Weissman, through the once-esteemed gallery.

No charges have been brought against Qian although FBI agents did search his home last week. Rosales, who has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering, is the only person who has been indicted in connection to the Knoedler scandal thus far.

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