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The famous Forger....
This famous artist died in
(1906 – December 11, 1976) was a Hungarian-born
painter. He claimed to have sold over a
thousand forgeries to reputable art galleries all over the
world. They garnered much celebrity from a
Clifford Irving book and from F for Fake, a documentary
of sorts by Orson Welles, making his works popular in
their own right.
The graphic is of Orson Welles
Most of the information regarding the artist's early life
comes from what he told American writer Clifford Irving,
who wrote the first biography about him. Since his
success was reliant upon his skills of deception and
invention, it would be difficult to take the facts that
he told about his own life at face value, as Clifford
Irving himself admitted. He claimed that he was born
into an aristocratic family, that his father was an
Austro-Hungarian ambassador and that his mother came
from a family of bankers. However, subsequent
investigation has suggested that His childhood was,
more likely, of an ordinary, middle class variety.
His parents left him to the care of various governesses
and were divorced when he was sixteen.
Elmyr moved to Budapest, Hungary to study. At 18, he
joined the Akademie Heinmann art school in Munich,
Germany to study classical painting. In 1926 he moved to
Paris, and enrolled in the Académie la Grande Chaumière,
where he studied under Fernand Léger and became accustomed
to fine living.
Shortly after his return to Hungary, he became involved
with a British journalist and suspected spy. This
friendship landed him in a Transylvanian prison for
political dissidents in the Carpathian Mountains.
During this time, de Hory befriended the prison camp
officer by painting his portrait. Later, during the
Second World War, de Hory was released.
Within a year, he was back in jail, this time
imprisoned in a German concentration camp for being
both a Jew and a homosexual (while his homosexuality
was proven over time, investigation into his past has
shown the likelihood that he was not Jewish, but
instead was christened as a Calvinist). He was severely
beaten and was transferred to a Berlin prison hospital,
where he escaped and later slipped back into Hungary.
It was there he learned that his parents had been killed
and their estate confiscated. With his remaining money
he bribed his way back into France, where he tried
to earn his living by painting.
Upon arriving in Paris, de Hory attempted to make an honest
living as an artist, but soon discovered that he had an
uncanny ability to copy the works of other artists.
So good were his copies that many of his friends believed
them to be originals. In 1946 he sold a reproduction
of a Picasso to a British friend who took it for an
Forger Elmyr-de-hory sold his Picasso
art galleries, claiming that they were what remained of
his family's estate. Galleries took the paintings and
paid de Hory the equivalent of $100 to $400 per painting.
That same year de Hory formed a partnership with Jacques
Chamberlin, who would later become his art dealer.
They toured Europe and South America selling the forgeries
until de Hory discovered that, although they were
supposed to share the profits equally, Chamberlin had kept
most of the money. He ended the relationship and resumed
the tour alone. In 1947 de Hory visited the United States
on a three-month visa and decided to stay, moving between
New York City and Los Angeles.
Occasionally, throughout his career, he attempted
to stop making copies and create original artwork, but
could never find a market for his work, always returning
to the lucrative forgery trade. He eventually expanded
his forgeries to include works by Matisse, Modigliani and
Renoir. Because some of the galleries de Hory had sold his
forgeries to were becoming suspicious, he began to use
pseudonyms, and to sell his work by mail order. Some of
de Hory's many pseudonyms included Louis Cassou,
Joseph Dory, Joseph Dory-Boutin, Elmyr Herzog, Elmyr
Hoffman and E. Raynal.
During the 1950s, he settled in Miami, continuing
to sell his work through the mail and studying the
styles and techniques of other master painters in order
to imitate their works. In 1955 one of his Matisse
pieces was sold to the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard
University; soon thereafter, authorities discovered it
was a fake and launched an investigation.