Family of Late Vietnamese Painter Accusing Hong Kong Auction House of Selling Fake Painting
|The 'L'image traditionnelle d'une maison de paysan' lacquer on Sotherby's Hong Kong website. Screenshot of website of the auction house|
Sotheby's Hong Kong auction house is selling a lacquered wooden screen 'Nha Tranh Goc Mit' (rough translation, 'Cottage By Jackfruit Tree') by the late, great lacquer artist Nguyen Van Ty at the upcoming Modern Art Day Sale. It is worth mentioning that the only original of this work is being kept at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum.
To prepare for the upcoming Modern Art Day Sale on Oct. 10, the auction house posted on its website a lacquered wooden screen titled 'L'image traditionnelle d'une maison de paysan' along with the name of Ty for an expected price of HKD 700,000-1,000,000 (US$ 89,000-128,500), reported VnExpress Friday.
The site stated that: "This work is comparable to 'L'image traditionnelle d'une maison de paysan' ('Nha Tranh Goc Mit' or rough translation, 'Cottage By Jackfruit Tree') (1958) by Nguyen Van Ty at the Musee des Beaux-Arts (Vietnam Fine Arts Museum) in Hanoi."
Painter Nguyen Binh Minh, Ty's daughter, former deputy director of Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, confirmed the work being auctioned by Sotheby's is not authentic.
"My father didn't make a painting of a jackfruit tree like that. It's not allowed to associate his name to the artwork," she said.
She added her father had only created the jackfruit tree picture of 67x105 centimeters, titled 'Nha Tranh Goc Mit' (rough translation, Cottage By Jackfruit Tree), currently displayed at Vietnam Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi.
Ty's family said they had no intention of contacting Sotheby's, but simply wanted to inform the public about the incident.
They want the auction house to remove the work or not name Nguyen Van Ty.
|Ty's family said they had no intention of contacting Sotheby's, but simply wanted to inform the public about the incident. Screenshot of website of the auction house|
|Lacquer painting 'Nha Tranh Goc Mit' by Nguyen Van Ty at Vietnam Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of the museum|
According to Nguyen Anh Minh, director of Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, the museum bought the artwork in 1960, after the lacquer painting won a prize at National Fine Arts Exhibition. The painting is currently kept and displayed here, he confirmed.
"In art, there are no equivalent concepts. There are only original paintings, fake paintings and imitation paintings. In addition, the original only consists of one plate, not three like Sotheby's posted," Minh said.
Bui Hoang Anh, editor-in-chief of Vietnam Fine Arts Magazine, said that such the famous auction house let a painting like this enter the session. This is a contempt for Vietnamese art, for art lovers and for collectors from Vietnam,
"Because this painting is related to authentic works, currently in the collection of the Government of Vietnam, we need to strongly condemn them to take down the painting as in the case of two paintings 'The Letter' by To Ngoc Van and Tran Van Can's 'Two girls in front of the screen' also auctioned at Sotheby's in September 2019," said Anh, quoted by ANTD.VN.
The representative of Vietnam Fine Arts Museum said it is only responsible for authenticating the original work, not contacting or responding to the auction house.
Sotheby's Hong Kong has not given any official response, said VnExpress.
|The family of the late, great lacquer artist Nguyen Van Ty believes Sotheby's Hong Kong auction house has put up a copy of one of his works for sale. Screenshot of website of the auction house|
|Description at the website. Screenshot of website of the auction house|
Art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi commented that the painting has a deep [what?] with sharp lines. The Sotheby's work is relatively new with vibrant colors and poor lacquer work.
He believes the late painter's family has the moral right to ask the for the painter’s name to be dropped while providing authentic evidence to Sotheby's. The auction house may then remove the work to protect its reputation.
"Many auction houses just ignore the request. There is nothing we can do about it. In Vietnam, there is no organization or strict and clear laws to protect artists' copyright. That's also the reason. There are many faked paintings of the Indochina period. The auction floor is just like a market. If buyers have money, they will just sell it," Khoi said.
At the upcoming Modern Art Day Sale on Oct. 10, Sotheby's Hong Kong auction house also is featuring works by other Vietnamese painters like Mai Trung Thu, Le Pho, Bui Xuan Phai, Pham Hau and Tran Minh Thi (Le Thy).
Nguyen Van Ty (1917-1992) was born in Hanoi. He studied at the Indochina School of Fine Art from 1936 to 1941, along with Hoang Tich Chu and Nguyen Tien Chung, who were his classmates.
In 1936, he won the first prize at an exhibition organised by Annamese Association for the Encouragement of Art and Industry — a society of artists and artisans that operated from 1935 to 1939 with French artist Victor Tardieu as its first chairman.
Over the next few years, many of his works were sent abroad to be part of international exhibitions in France, Brussels, Indonesia and the US. In the summer of 1942, he visited and painted at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
A year later, as part of a cultural exchange with Japan, involving Japanese artist Fujita Tsuguhary, he was invited with Nam Son and Luong Xuan Nhi to research and exhibit in three Japanese cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Kobe.
In 1946, Ty became involved in the national resistance against the French colonialists. During that time, he wrote for newspapers, made propaganda posters and taught art students in Viet Bac.
On his return to Hanoi after the French resistance, he taught at the Vietnam Fine Arts College, a post that he held until 1969. He was also appointed as the first General Secretary of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association. His paintings were shown at exhibitions in the country, as well as in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
In 1965, one of his painting carved on wood won the silver medal at an international exhibition for graphic arts in Leipzig, Germany.
Artist Ty died in Hanoi. He was posthumously awarded the Ho Chi Minh prize in 2000 for his lacquer painting series, including Nha Tranh Goc Mit (Rural House with Jackfruit Tree) in 1958; Bac Nam Thong Nhat (Unification of North and South) in 1961; and Phong Canh (Landscape) in 1991.
His works are part of the permanent collections of the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow and the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi.
Not the first fake painting
The problem of fake paintings of Vietnamese artists at international auctions has existed for a long time. Recently, while watching a series of works prepared for the auction on Oct. 16 by Linda Trouvé, Khoi discovered many fake paintings by artist Bui Xuan Phai.
He sent a letter to the auction house, hoping they take it down.
"Those pictures are ugly. I can't imagine they belong to painter Bui Xuan Phai. I couldn't accept it, so I submitted a request letter to the organizers," he said.
He hopes Vietnam would appoint experts and committees to appraise works and give feedback to gradually eliminate this situation.
Previously, in September 2019, Sotheby's Hong Kong pulled two artworks, 'La Thu' (The Letter) by To Ngoc Van and 'Hai Co Gai' (Resting Ladies) by Tran Van Can, as they were believed to be fake.
In 2016, Christie's in Hong Kong sold To Ngoc Van's 'Thuyen Tren Song Huong' (Boat On The Perfume River) for US$ 57,000 and Lady of Hue by Le Van De for US$ 89,000. However, Hanoi Fine Arts Museum also displays two identical paintings. The museum said they had bought Van's painting in 1965 and the other in 1976.
To Ngoc Thanh, Van's son, said the two paintings were copied many times, making it difficult to determine which picture is genuine.
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