FBI seizes forged Wyeth Painting

    A forgery of an Andrew Wyeth painting has been found in a Texas auction house. The counterfeit was taken from Wyeth’s “Wreck on Doughnut Point”.

    Federal authorities have recovered a counterfeit painting of the late Andrew Wyeth’s “Wreck on Doughnut Point” in Texas.
    The original painting sets a subtle-toned scene of a shipwreck in 1939. It’s a watercolor that Mary Landa of the Brandywine River Museum knows well from working as Wyeth’s collection manager for thirty years.

    Landa says this exact forged copy was revealed to her ten years ago when a Connecticut auction house sent the painting to the museum for authentication. “We knew immediately it was not an Andrew Wyeth,” Landa said.

    “His style is very sure and fluid and this copy is very stilted and stiff,” Landa said, “It just didn’t flow like a normal Wyeth.”

    The Brandywine River Museum sent a letter back to the auction house informing them of the counterfeit but the painting was never recovered or taken off the market.

    The forged painting was then sold to its current owner in California who was unaware that it was fake. Last year, that owner put the painting up for sale to a member of the Texas auction house, who in turn sent it back to the Brandywine River Museum to be reviewed.

    Federal authorities recovered the painting from the California owner, without charges, in September.

    Landa was surprised and thrilled that this piece of art had surfaced again, a feeling she knew Andrew would have shared.

    “I think he would be delighted that it was off the market,” Landa said, “He was dissapointed when we weren’t able to seize it the first time”

    web xclusive banner

    The reproduction of Wyeth’s works is not uncommon. “Often times, art students and other artists copy his work to learn from his style,” Landa says, “Sometimes, that artwork gets picked up by a fraudulent dealer who may put a fake signature on it.”

    This is the fourth Wyeth forgery to be reported since his death in January.

    Landa says she hopes this recent discovery reinforces the message that buyers must be aware of fraud and do their research before buying artwork at an auction or on the web.

    More information on Wyeth’s works can be found at www.brandywinemuseum.org

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.