Service of Who Vets the Details for a Prince?

November 14th, 2019

Categories: Art, Artist, Fake, Fundraising

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

The characters in this post are Charles, Prince of Wales, a British businessman, James Stunt, and a convicted painting forger Tony Tetro.

Javier Pes covered the incident on artnet.com in “Prince Charles’s Charity Displayed Paintings by Picasso, Dalí, and Monet—Until a Convicted Forger Claimed Them as His Own.” He wrote that Stunt lent “works supposedly by Monet, Picasso, and Salvador Dalí to Dumfries House, the historic property in Scotland that is a cause close to the heart of the heir to the British throne.”

Dumfries House Photo: dumfries-house.org.UK

Stunt got them back after Tetro announced he’d painted them. He also said that Stunt knew they were fake because he’d ordered them for his home. The faux artist added that “there is no way that these paintings could pass even the lightest scrutiny. The canvases are new, paint is modern, stretcher bars are not correct or period.”

The coverage implied that the Prince should have known better and we don’t know if he’d ever seen the canvases. Pes wrote: “The British royal, who is a former trustee of London’s National Gallery and grew up surrounded by Old Masters, must have been delighted when the flamboyant British businessman James Stunt agreed to lend 17 works.”

“LE FERMIER ET SON ÉPOUSE” by Joan Miro Photo: joan-miro.net

Stunt was also on the griddle. Quoting the Daily Mail‘s account and what Stunt said, Pes reported: “ ‘What is the crime of lending them to a stately home, [to] the Prince of Wales and putting them on display for the public to enjoy?’ He stopped short of accepting that he knew they weren’t originals,” added Pes.

Pes wrote: “Tetro, who was found guilty of art forgery involving works by Dalí, Miro, Chagall, and Norman Rockwell in the past, now makes what he calls ’emulations’ of Modern masterworks. Stunt ‘knew with 100 percent certainty that these works were by me,’ Tetro said, a claim that Stunt denies. ‘We discussed the subject of the paintings and many of the particulars. These were decorative paintings that were purposely made by me as decorations for his home.'”

It’s hard to tell who was pulling the wool over whose eyes in this $136 million art scam. Was Stunt trying to gain provenance for fakes he knew were such? Did he really know what he bought from Tetro? Was the Prince of Wales, who was trying to generate funds for a historic Scottish property, taken to the cleaners by Stunt, whom, Pes notes at the end of the article, went bankrupt this summer? Should the Prince’s front people/handlers–or the folks in charge of fundraising for Dumfries House–have done a better job at vetting the background of the theoretically munificent businessman before accepting his offer? Or should the Prince have known better?

Photo: vootelecom.co.uk

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4 Responses to “Service of Who Vets the Details for a Prince?”

  1. ASK Said:

    Alas, the Windsor group can’t seem to catch a break lately, first Andrew, and now his brother. Not to mention Harry’s agonizing public distress. But, Mr. Stunt seems to have had shady rep from the get-go and with so many wealthy people willing to throw money into the art market, it’s no wonder there is such a proliferation of fakes…No one seems to have been paying enough attention. In a recent read about the Gardner Museum heist, one art detective assigned to the case estimated the percentage of fakes out there to be eye-opening.

  2. BC Said:

    Think I would blame his front people/ handlers. Should they
    go to jail? They likely got a commission out of the deal?

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    If I was buying serious art I would hope to find an appraiser who knows her/his stuff. Such a person, if brought into the Dumfries House scenario, would have noticed the new stretchers, canvas and paint–one would hope.

    Meanwhile I have been happy to buy things I like to look at that are in my price range and I don’t worry about increasing or decreasing value.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    I never thought about anyone getting a commission. I am part of a volunteer fundraising team but we deal in peanuts compared to the $136 million art lent here and we get the pleasure of supporting an organization we appreciate. That’s our commission! If I see any followup stories about this and read about jail terms for the owner of the fakes or the artist I’ll let you know!

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