S. Korea art society hit by forgery dispute over Lee Ufan's paintings

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2017-01-19 14:19 Updated : 2017-01-19 14:19
글씨작게 글씨크게

[From point, a painting by Lee Ufan]

South Korea's art community was embroiled in a fresh forgery row this week after a court ruled that at least four artworks by Lee Ufan, a prominent 80-year-old artist, have been forged despite his claim they are all authentic.

Lee's art is rooted in an Eastern appreciation of the nature of materials and also in modern European phenomenology. His paintings regularly fetch six-figure dollar sums at auction. A 1980 canvas with a series of vertical blue lines went for $410,000 at Sotheby's in New York in 2010.

A Seoul court sentenced a gallery operator and an antique dealer to four years and seven years in prison each Wednesday for selling forged artworks of the minimalist painter and sculptor honored for contributing to the development of contemporary art in Japan.

Based on an evaluation by South Korean experts, the court ruled at least four pieces have been forged, though the artist argued they are all his original works.

In a separate case last month, prosecutors rebutted evaluation by Lumiere Technology, a prominent French research team, that "Beautiful Woman" allegedly authored by Chun Kyung-ja (1924-2015) was a fake.

The French team was famous for finding an image of a portrait underneath the Mona Lisa in 2004. At the request of Chun's family, Lumiere concluded "Beautiful Woman" was a fake, but prosecutors rejected its evaluation, saying the art piece in question was genuine.

When the artwork was displayed in 1991, Chun insisted it was a fake and retired from painting in protest. After her death in 2015 in New York, her family filed a lawsuit. Chun was best known for her paintings of female figures and flowers using vivid primary colors. Her works have sold at auction for up to one million dollars.