The story of the forger who managed to fool Hermann Göring, museums and critics

Five years in the past, a portrait attributed as a self-portrait by Han van Meegeren (1889-1947) – the well-known Vermeer forger who, in the course of the Thirties and Forties, duped Dutch critics and museums, in addition to Hermann Göring – bought in an English nation saleroom for £220.

The “attribution” meant that the auctioneer was undecided that, regardless that it bore the monogram “VM”, together with an inscription on the reverse, he might underwrite it as a real work by van Meegeren.

The authenticity of a piece by a identified forger is especially tough to ascertain. As Wim Pijbes, the emeritus Rijksmuseum director, mentioned in 2011, when he purchased what was described as a loss of life masks of van Meegeren for €300 at a sale in Amsterdam:…

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