Police Investigate Exhibition of ‘Fake’ Russian Avant-Garde Artworks

The raids follow the suspension of the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent’s director

Courtesy: Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent

Courtesy: Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent

Courtesy: Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent

The Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent’s controversial exhibition of Russian avant-garde artworks has now attracted the interest of the Belgian police. Several homes across the country were raided by police in relation to claims that the museum’s recent exhibition contained counterfeits.

The raids follow the suspension of the museum’s director Catherine de Zegher by the board of directors who cited a ‘loss of trust’ in her leadership. The museum’s recent presentation ‘Russian Modernism’ included various works on loan from the Dieleghem Foundation, a charity owned by the Brussels-based Russian couple Igor and Olga Toporovski. The Russian Modernist works were removed in January after media reports and an open letter signed by ten experts published in Flemish daily newspaper De Standaard, questioned their authenticity. 

The police searches were conducted on Monday following a civil complaint from art dealers based in London and New York, as well as a family member of an artist who was a possible victim of counterfeit. Computers were sealed, documents were requested and De Zegher was also interviewed by detectives, according to De Standaard. The newspaper also claims that the Toporovskis’s Brussels home was subjected to a search.

De Zegher told Ghent politicians that she had consulted with art historians Magdalena Dabrowski and Noemi Smolik, but they later clarified to local press that they had played no part in exhibition preparations. Smolik told frieze last week: ‘I was in no way involved in the decision of showing them.’

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