User talk:82.166.140.117

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Lentulov[edit]

You have edited the Aristarkh Lentulov‎ claiming that a portait is a forgery. In fact the prortrait came from http://www.gallery.permonline.ru/exhibitions/archive/1/ex1.htm - a reasonably respectful museum site? Why do you think it is a forgery? Alex Bakharev (talk) 12:24, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

Alex Bakharev WHY YOU IGNORE MY MESSAGE?!!! DO YOU HAVE AN INTEREST OR RELATION TO THE CRIMINAL RING WHO WAS RECENTLY CAUGHT? I WONT STOP AND LET OTHER KNOW YOUR VAGUE ACTIVITIES, REMOVE THE IMAGE AT ONCE!!

This painting does not belongs to the museum you mentioned. It is part of a "collection" of a CRIMINAL RING which was just revealed in Germany and Israel.

"Natanov, scion of an eminent family of art collectors in Uzbekistan, inherited the paintings in the 1950s from his grandfather, a Kolkhoz administrator. In 2002, five items from his collection, including paintings by Kandinsky, were brought to an art museum north of Moscow. That same year, a work from Natanov’s collection was being offered for sale by a Frankfurt auction house for 100,000 euros, but then the proprietor there received a phone call warning him that the painting was a forgery. The sale was called off."

Read here more: http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/.premium-1.541700

The work belongs to Eddik Natanov, a criminal, part of a ring of criminal who forged art and caught few month ago. Its all over the news.

at the link you sent, the work arrived from: "Из коллекции Эдика Натанова"

I kindly ask you to remove it, otherwise i will contact the Interpol.

  • Thanks a lot for providing the link. Unfortunately, access to the relevant portion of the article requires paid account that I do not have (and you seems to have). Can you post the relevant portion of the article here or email it to me on abakharev@gmail.com? If the painting is a forgery it will of course be removed from the gallery. If the forgery (or connection to criminal rings) is notable and verifiable it is probably worth to add a few sentences about it to the article.
  • Regarding Interpol - please give any relevant information you have to help the investigation. On my side I unfortunately only have the link to the Perm museum (there the image was uploaded from) and the Haaretz link that you have provided. I do not think it would help much. And, please avoid, posting On Wiki of anything that remotely looks like a legal threat. Many people do not tolerate it. Alex Bakharev (talk) 03:26, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Here you have the full article, i put in bold Eddik Natanov (The owner of the Lentulov)connection to the criminal ring: Detectives from the Israel Police’s International and Serious Crimes Unit thought it was a mistake at first. For several weeks in 2011 they had been listening to wiretaps of members of a major crime organization, key targets of the Israel Police. But instead of obtaining information about drug shipments, hired hitmen and weapons − they kept hearing talk about “the treasure.” And not just any treasure: a large number of bars of gold bullion ostensibly melted down from jewelry taken from Jews during World War II, and buried somewhere in German soil.

The unit’s intelligence coordinators also reported on some unusual activity in which other big-name criminals were involved, and the police grew more intrigued. Before long, it became apparent that these criminals weren’t just talking. For three months, some of them had been making frequent trips from Israel to various countries in Africa and Europe, and from there to Germany. The Israel Police shared its information with the German police and the latter went into action.

The Germans were surprised to find that their tracking of the Israeli criminals was leading them deep into the Bavarian countryside, to a small picturesque town called Pfronten outside Munich, a place that had been mentioned in the past in stories about buried Nazi era treasures. There, on the land of a nonplussed local farmer, the Israeli gang members apparently set about digging, using heavy equipment they had brought with them. After a few weeks of excavation, the German police ran out of patience and detained the entire group for questioning. After a brief interrogation that didn’t produce any suspicion of criminal activity, the Israelis packed up their things and left Germany.

The Israel Police are curious to know what led these “serious” criminals − whose names have been linked more than once in the past few years to a series of hired killings in the underworld − to go treasure hunting in Germany. Their investigation turned up the name Isaac Zrog, a 66-year-old art dealer from Givatayim with no criminal background. It was Zrog, evidently, who claimed to have an old treasure map that could lead searchers to piles of shiny gold.

To date, no treasure has been found. Once it became clear that no crime had been committed, in fact, the Israel Police concluded its investigation into the matter and relayed the information to the Yad Vashem Holocaust authority, which also made inquiries to find out whether gold bullion belonging to the Jews really is hidden in the ground in Pfronten. Those efforts also didn’t yield anything.

Action in Germany

The gold bullion case may have reached a dead end, but the main player is now starring in yet another affair, which is now under investigation by the police’s National Fraud Investigation Unit. And once again, the most of the action is taking place in Germany.

Even though the Israel Police’s fraud and international investigations units are located in adjacent buildings, and the information stored on their computers is supposed to be shared, the fraud unit was unfamiliar with the older gentleman who was arrested in June in Germany. The local police force was informed by the BKA ‏(the German federal police‏) that Isaac Zrog was suspected of heading an international organization involved in creating counterfeit paintings and selling them to collectors around the world.

The joint investigation mounted by Lahav 433 ‏(the local police unit that investigates organized crime‏) and the German police included the wiretapping of phone conversations, monitoring of emails, money transfers around the world, raids on homes and galleries in Israel and Germany, a raid of Swiss bank accounts, and the confiscation of hundreds of paintings. This led to a series of arrests both here and in Germany .

In Israel 18 people were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the money-laundering operations form the sales of the forgeries. Remand was extended for Michael Yehiel Horberg and Yosef Horberg, owners of a chain of currency-exchange firms in Bnei Brak; Lior Yosef Gilboa, suspected of serving as a close assistant to Isaac Zrog and working with him to sell the forgeries; Shalom Naim, suspected of involvement in obtaining authentication certificates for the paintings; Avraham Shukrun and Eliahu Alper, employees of the currency-exchange firm; and Yitzhak Gabso, suspected of involvement in forgery and money-laundering. The name of a well-known ultra-Orthodox attorney ‏(under a gag order‏), has also been connected with the affair; he is currently in Europe.

In Germany, many items were seized by a large police force consisting of 100 BKA agents plus members of the Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg police forces. Policemen raided 28 homes, businesses and warehouses, as well as art galleries in Wiesbaden, Mainz, Stuttgart, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne and other cities.

In the course of the searches, two Wiesbaden residents ‏(Zrog was one‏) were arrested. A large number of allegedly forged artworks were also seized, along with documents including bills of sale for the artwork. More than 1,000 items were confiscated in the raids. In Wiesbaden, thousands of pieces of art were stored in a warehouse lacking suitable conditions for storing works worth millions of dollars. Since this is an extensive international network, simultaneous raids were carried out in Switzerland, Spain, Cyprus and Israel.

The German newspaper Der Spiegel reported recently that, according to the BKA, the gang sold 400 works of art at prices ranging from four to seven figures. The police suspect that the forged paintings made their way to galleries that were part of the network, where they were issued what were allegedly forged documents certifying their authenticity. In the next stage, the works were presented for sale to potential buyers, and many were sold. Der Spiegel said that Zrog and his partner are suspected of selling or attempting to sell works from the collection of a man named Edik Natanov, which they saw on display in a gallery in the former Soviet Union in 2005.

Natanov, scion of an eminent family of art collectors in Uzbekistan, inherited the paintings in the 1950s from his grandfather, a Kolkhoz administrator. In 2002, five items from his collection, including paintings by Kandinsky, were brought to an art museum north of Moscow. That same year, a work from Natanov’s collection was being offered for sale by a Frankfurt auction house for 100,000 euros, but then the proprietor there received a phone call warning him that the painting was a forgery. The sale was called off. Der Spiegel reported on another person, an Italian it called Andrea N., who is suspected of finding customers for Zrog and his partner who were willing to buy the Kandinskys. Zrog’s partner met with Andrea N. in Paris and transferred the Kandinskys to him; they were then sent on to Italy. Time passed and only in 2007 was a buyer found who was prepared to pay three million euros for one of the paintings. However, a dispute that arose about the payment led to an investigation.

Der Spiegel also noted that according to the German police, since 2011 the Israeli duo has sold seven Russian paintings for a total of more than 2.53 million euros. Six were sold to buyers in Spain, and one to a German buyer for 450,000 euros. The police do not yet know if the paintings in question, aside from the one Kandinsky that has been proved a forgery, are authentic or not, and the matter is under investigation.

Meanwhile, in the police’s Tel Aviv District fraud division, an old case was reopened, concerning a little affair that began three years ago with a break-in in an apartment in Holon. It was a case of suspected insurance fraud, with pictures suspected of being fake at the center of it. In the course of the investigation, the owner of the paintings was arrested, as was a very well-known gallery owner. Now the police believe both cases, international and local, are interrelated, with Zrog being involved in both. The investigation is being led by teams from Tel Aviv and the national fraud unit.

Who knows what?

Owners of galleries such as those on Ben Yehuda and Gordon streets in Tel Aviv, and art and antique dealers in local flea markets, seem very interested in the police investigation. This may be both because of what they might know that the detectives don’t yet know, and because this is probably one of the few occasions that the Israel Police and the Israel Tax Authority have decided to lift the veil on the “non-kosher” art market and find out more about how it turns over great sums of money, often on the black market, while nearly always operating with extraordinary discretion.

“A fake painting is like a dead body floating at sea. Sooner or later it will reach the shore and the story will come out.” This metaphor was offered by someone in the art world who, like most of the people interviewed for this article, insisted upon remaining nameless. Indeed, in Israel’s small art world, it’s best to keep one’s name clean. He also said he feared being threatened with violence by certain parties he says are involved in the local market.

“It’s not unusual for people to ask me for a consultation,” says artist Michail Grobman, 74, a renowned expert on Russian avant-garde art. “But these are not people you want to mess with. I know what they really want is for me to confirm a given painting as authentic. So I don’t give a consultation to anyone, even though I could make a lot of money.”

And when there’s a lot of money to be had, dubious business types and underworld figures also get into the picture. “Nowadays there’s a lot of money in oil, real estate and art,” Grobman adds. “With oil and real estate you pay a lot of taxes, but there’s no oversight in the business of paintings and it’s a lot easier. You don’t always have a confirmation of sale or purchase, and you can always come into Israel with a painting that ‘Grandma’ gave you as a present.”

Most surprising of all was a statement that was repeated at nearly every encounter with art dealers and others knowledgeable about the subject: They wouldn’t touch any painting by Kandinsky, even if there were confirmations, proof of authenticity − it doesn’t matter. “The vast majority that’s being sold is fake,” says someone who was himself a key figure in a shady business involving paintings, and like the others currently under investigation, traded in artwork that belonged to the “hot” genre among international fakes: the Russian avant-garde.

Russian avant-garde was a modern art movement that developed and flourished from the beginning of the 20th century until about the 1930s. Prominent artists of this school include Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Natalia Goncharova and Marc Chagall, among others. The West only discovered the full glory of the genre many years after it was at its height in the Soviet Union, and it then became highly sought-after by collectors who would pay millions to own an original.

“You could say that since the 1960s, the demand for Russian avant-garde has been increasing, and the price of the works has gone up accordingly,” says an expert on the genre who teaches at a number of local universities, but also wished to remain nameless. He explains that request by saying that he, too, is often approached with “uncomfortable” requests for expert opinions, which he turns down. “There are many Russian avant-garde works that are unknown, there were no very orderly lists of such artwork, and paintings have vanished and been discovered” − which is one reason commerce in this genre of artwork has become what he terms “a real black-market industry.”

Yariv Egozi, owner of the Egozi Gallery and an expert art appraiser, explains that the counterfeiters’ fondness for Russian avant-garde also derives from the fact that these works are relatively easy to copy, and also because of the high demand among collectors − many of them ultra-rich Russians − especially for works by Kandinsky, Malevich and Goncharova.

Egozi: “There was a time when at least once a month somebody would tell me about someone who had paintings by Malevich, Chagall and others in his possession, and wanted to interest me in buying them. I didn’t even bother to see them because it was obvious that if someone has a painting by an artist of that level, and instead of going to Sotheby’s keeps it in some apartment in Holon and goes out looking for buyers − it must be a fraud. To me it’s like someone offering to sell me a Rolex in a back alley. Maybe it’s my lucky day and I could be getting a real Rolex watch, but chances are it’s just a fake.”

Other local art experts we spoke with said that this genre is relatively easy to copy since it is possible today to obtain the same types of canvas and paint used by the original artists. “In Russia there are people who were brought up on this art, who studied it from the time they were very young and are capable of copying it with a very high level of precision,” says one source, noting that a few of these talented forgers came to Israel with the great wave of immigration from the Soviet Union .

Selling a Chagall

The attempt to trace paintings from sometimes disreputable sources to the walls of international art collectors often passes through stalls at the Jaffa flea market, as well as some of the galleries on Ben Yehuda and other streets in Tel Aviv. Some people in the flea market, for example, have found themselves in an interesting legal battle that’s been going on in recent years in a dreary courtroom in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court. There, a group of art and antiques dealers has been sparring over a slice of the profits from the sale of two pictures by none other than the Russian-Jewish painter Marc Chagall. Here, too, one of the parties involved is Isaac Zrog.

The plaintiff, Gavriel Herzl, owned an antique shop in the flea market during the period after the fall of the Soviet Union, when traders were keen to lay their hands on treasures that had been hidden in Russia. Herzl described for the court how he and Zrog and another man named Alex Lezy were present in 1992 at the sale of a Chagall “portrait” in a private home in Leningrad. A relative of Chagall’s claimed to have found the painting in the apartment. The plaintiff said Zrog was the one who set up the whole business transaction and eventually gave the painting to Herzl, who served as a courier:

Herzl: “Zrog gave me the painting to take it out of Russia ...”

You carried the painting in a suitcase?

“In a suitcase, with many more art objects.”

How do you pack the picture? You roll it up and put it in a special container to protect it?

“Yes”

This picture went through the regular customs channels?

“No.”

When was it proven that the picture is in fact a Chagall?

“If I’m not mistaken, it was in 1995.”

The painting was bought even though it wasn’t certain that it was a Chagall?

“Yes.”

How was the painting’s authenticity verified?

“I wasn’t involved in that...”

According to the lawsuit, after the Chagall in question arrived in Israel it passed through the flea market and ended up in the custody of a collector in his home in Savyon. Before long another name was added to that of the two owners , Zrog and Lezy: Amos Sulami, a good friend of Zrog's. Sulami’s name is known to the public from his sensational exoneration in the early 2000s on a charge of conspiring to commit murder.

In the late 1970s, Sulami and a man named Shimon Cohen were convicted of planning the murder of Rina Ashkenazi, a woman who had been staying in the home of a couple who were due to testify in a criminal trial. Three days before the couple was due to appear in court, there was an explosion in their home, and Ashkenazi was killed. One of the accused in the murder turned state’s witness and implicated Sulami and Cohen in the crime. The two were charged and convicted on the basis of the state witness’s testimony. However, some years later Sulami was able to get to the detective in the case, Daniel Meroz, and a recording of their conversation raised the suspicion that the detective had dictated the testimony of the state's witness in a way that incriminated Sulami and Cohen. Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy agreed to consider the recording Sulami made with the investigator, and ruled that, “it is possible that Meroz and his colleagues caused the incrimination of people who did no wrong.”

In any event, in the mid-1990s, when he became official owner of the Chagall painting, Sulami was serving a long prison sentence for drug trafficking.

The group sought to sell the Chagall for $7 million; the owners tried for three years to obtain confirmation that the painting was an original, since there was no such documentation when it was purchased, until confirmation was finally received from the authoritative Chagall committee, based in Paris. In late November 1995, the painting was offered for sale at Sotheby’s in New York, which started the bidding at $5 million. But the auction failed. “There was a crisis in the market and it didn’t sell,” Zrog explained in court.

For the next seven years, the owners worked to burnish the painting’s image and had it displayed at several leading museums. Finally, in 2003, the painting worth millions was privately sold to an anonymous collector, for a little under $3 million. “I saw that I was sinking with the picture − there was an offer ... [As one of the owners] I got $612,000 from the sale,” Zrog told the court, adding that he went on with his regular business afterward.

This legal saga subsequently led to a countersuit, also centering on a Chagall painting. The witness in the case, Nissim ‏(Niso‏) Cohen, owns an antique shop in the flea market and in the 1990s the painting came his way, as he told the court:

Cohen: “We sold [the painting] to a customer in Savyon for $300,000.”

Who actually sold the picture?

“I did.”

Whom did you buy the painting from?

“From Zrog.”

For how much?

“For $120,000.”

Later on in the hearing Cohen said that when Zrog owed him $25,000 on another deal, he paid him with a painting by the famous Russian artist Natalia Goncharova.

Amos Sulami said in response: “I had no involvement whatsoever with the whole story that arose surrounding the painting. I got into this business as a financier and I was kept out of those dealings. The court decision shows that the courts are cut off from reality and from the truth. It was a baseless prosecution.”

Gabriel Herzl declined to respond.

One of them

In Givatayim, Zrog is known as a very wealthy and enigmatic art dealer. In 2005 he suffered a personal tragedy when his 34-year-old son was killed in a motorcycle accident at the Kfar Shmaryahu junction. In his son’s memory, he has been donating money to the family’s favorite soccer team − Hapoel Ramat Gan, which even changed its name to Hapoel Ramat Gan-Assi, in his son’s memory.

“I always knew motorcycles are dangerous but there was no stopping Assi,” Zrog said in an interview on the team’s website after his son’s death.

The antiques dealers in the Jaffa flea market and on Ben Yehuda Street know Zrog well − he used to be one of them − and describe him as an extremely charismatic type, “the kind that could sell ice to the Eskimos ... He made a lot of money from art deals, but to the best of my knowledge, a lot of it was wasted,” says one person who knew him.

Zrog told people he worked with that he was a Mossad agent and had been involved in several operations. He also described one of his partners in recent years as someone who was his subordinate in the Mossad. In the mid-2000s, he opened a prestigious gallery called SMZ in Wiesbaden, Germany, where works by Russian avant-garde artists were sold, among other types of paintings. The opening was attended by all the “who’s who” of the German city, along with Israeli friends. The gallery closed three years ago − “He apparently made enough money” − jokes one German journalist. However, the BKA and the Israel Police suspect that Zrog continued in the art trade, but with very high-quality forgeries, and with counterfeited documentation of their provenance.

As explained in an official statement, the police suspect that Zrog and his people were assisted in the authentications by reputable art appraisers and laboratories in Germany and France, which issued the needed documentation. For example, one of the suspects who was arrested in Israel, Shalom Na’im from Netanya, is suspected of being involved in this authentication process. During the hearing in mid-June on extending his remand, it emerged that he had traveled abroad to help authenticate 15 different paintings that are suspected of being forgeries.

Nearly all the experts with whom we spoke confirmed that the market is “flooded” with Kandinskys and Goncharovas − yet most also insisted that if a painting has a reputable certificate of provenance, there is usually no reason to worry. However, in the course of preparing this article, we spoke with a number of key figures who played an active and significant part in the “dubious” art trade, and their comments illustrate why there can actually be cause for concern even when paintings come with supposedly reliable certifications of provenance. Once again, the emphasis here is on paintings in the Russian avant-garde style.

Free advice

“There’s a sucker born every minute,” smirks the art dealer sitting opposite me, offering some free advice as he sets down his coffee mug: “Invest in anything, just not in paintings. I’m telling you because I know it’s all bullshit. Because I saw with my own eyes renowned experts sitting there with a painting and telling us about the composition-shmomposition, and why it’s clear that a certain painter painted the picture, and everyone involved knows that it’s all bullshit.”

Says another art dealer. “The police don’t care, they don’t understand anything about it anyway. But the Russians and the Germans woke up and saw that this whole thing is really hurting their economy. There’s a real fortune involved here! You have no idea how much, and you have no idea how easy this money is.” One dealer we talked to described how he got involved in the sale of paintings of “unclear origin”: “My business was selling antiques. One day this guy comes into the store and asks me how much a painting hanging in the store cost. He claimed it was by some painter, I didn’t know if that was true or not, but I said the painting is worth $2,000. Do you want to take it and do your tests? That’s the price. Two weeks later he came back and took the painting. I brought in more paintings and they sold, too. I couldn’t believe that there were people ready to buy them for so much money,” he says, although he soon realized that he could be asking for much more.

Many of the sources we talked to deal mainly in Judaica, and what they had to say about the authenticity of Judaica objects − including those in some of the world’s major museums − is a story in itself.

“When I go into a certain museum and pass the Judaica exhibit, I can tell you for certain that some of the objects on display there have no connection to what’s written about them. I know, because these are fakes that passed through my hands! It’s not an antique, it’s right out of the oven,” says one dealer.

Yariv Egozi, who has a lot of experience as an appraiser and in identifying forgeries, confirms that the Judaica field is filled with fakes. “For every one authentic item, there are 99 fakes. An entire industry has been built up around this, and I can tell you that a lot of forgers build up an object’s reputation by lending it to some museum, so that afterward it can be sold.”

Egozi mentions a well-known museum in Europe that has a prestigious collection of Jewish artwork, angrily claiming that “more than 80 percent of what’s on display there is fake. There are things that were never created by any Jewish community and are on display there. It makes me furious. I went and talked to the curator who admitted to me that she knew she’d been tricked into acquiring objects that she later found out were forged,” he adds.

The same tricks are repeated in the “non-kosher” art trade, whether in regard to Judaica or paintings. Egozi tells of a client who came to him a while ago requesting that he take a look at the Israeli art collection in her home.

“As soon as we entered the apartment, I saw what a disaster it was going to be. On one wall there was a picture by Castel − a canonical painting of his that had very recently been sold at one of the big Israeli auction houses. I asked her where the picture came from and she said she’d bought it from a private individual, an older man who said he was a collector. She thought she’d found a great bargain and paid $12,000 for it. But this exact painting, the real one, has just been sold by the auction house for $33,000. All the rest of the paintings she had turned out to be forgeries, too,” says Egozi.

He notes that gangs of forgers often make use of a “straw man,” such as an elderly person who hangs paintings in his home. The potential buyer who is brought there thinks he’s lucked into the bargain of a lifetime, and cannot resist buying.

Two years ago, in one such apartment in Holon, there was a collection of paintings by the elite of the Russian avant-garde artists. The collection, owned by Shahar Sheetrit, was insured by the Harel insurance company for nearly NIS 10 million. According to Sheetrit, on July 25, 2011, when she was vacationing with her family in Eilat, someone broke into the apartment and stole the valuable paintings. Sheetrit reported the theft to the police and also demanded compensation from the insurance company. But the insurance company became skeptical about whether the incident was really as straightforward as it was made out to be. It hired the services of the Weitzman-Ya’ar private detective agency, and the findings ostensibly raised some doubts about the authenticity of the artwork, as well as some serious questions about the break-in itself.

All this led to a police investigation that began two years ago and so far has led nowhere. Meanwhile, Sheetrit has filed a civil suit against the insurance company, which still refuses to pay her.

The detective agency pursued its investigation and in the past year came up with further dramatic indications that the stolen paintings were in fact forgeries. The case was reopened, this time by the Tel Aviv District’s fraud unit, and picked up momentum. About a month and a half ago, the police arrested Sheetrit on suspicion of being involved in forged artwork − but even more interesting, they also arrested Bernard Bensoussan, owner of a highly regarded gallery on Ben Yehuda Street. Bensoussan, a gallerist and art restorer for many years, dealt a lot with the Russian avant-garde, and police suspect he was also part of a network of people dealing in forged artwork. Both he and Sheetrit have since been released to house arrest, but the investigation has expanded beyond what was initially anticipated. The suspicion now is that those involved in this small local affair may have a close and direct connection with the huge case being investigated in Germany, Russia and by the local police’s international investigations unit. Furthermore, Isaac Zrog, it appears from the investigation, is also the key figure in the Sheetrit-Bensoussan case.

‘Serious person’

Another interesting link between the two affairs is Laurette Thomas, owner of an art analysis and appraisal laboratory in Paris. Thomas’ signature is on two of the expert-opinion declarations given on two of the paintings stolen from Sheetrit’s home. There, she confirmed that the works, one by Malevich and the other by Goncharova, were authentic. Interviewed by phone, Thomas says she does not remember those particular opinions, and explains that her studio issues so many of them that she cannot remember each and every one precisely.

“I’ve met Bernard Bensoussan a number of times and he is a very serious person. I’ve worked with him a lot, on Russian avant-garde, but not only that, also on a lot of paintings of another style, and I can tell you that he is a serious person,” says Thomas. “Zrog came to see me a few times, a long time ago, at the studio about work issues. He doesn’t know English that well and he would come with an interpreter. I don’t know exactly what he does; for me, he’s just a colleague.”

The Israel Police have not contacted Thomas, and although her testimony might shed light on work-related relationships between the suspects in Israel and abroad, the investigators already sense there were “clear reciprocal relations” between those involved in both the local and international forgery cases. Thomas, of course, is not a suspect in these affairs. Still, one thing the police want to know is how such professional opinions authenticating the paintings were obtained. They suspect the international network was also involved in sophisticated forgeries of provenance documents. The international network and its local offshoot are suspected of doing tens of millions of dollars in business in this way, with some of this money being laundered through moneychangers in Bnei Brak, as noted in the court hearings.

Adi Avinoam, Shahar Sheetrit’s attorney, provided this response: “This is a civil dispute between my client and the insurance company that progressed beyond where it should have involved my client. I am confident that the investigators and the justice system will uncover the whole truth in this affair.”

Bernard Bensoussan’s attorney, Motti Katz, gave this response: “Bernard Bensoussan has a sterling reputation in the art world. The charges ascribed to him are odd to begin with. Bernard is not someone who authenticates or is authorized to authenticate paintings. The people who do this are two distinguished women in London and Paris, reputable experts in the Russian avant-garde genre. These women are the ones who confirmed, with detailed documentation, the authenticity of the paintings in question, and to the best of our knowledge, neither of them has been questioned to date, apparently to avoid casting any aspersion that could cause unpleasantness with the Israeli Police and the insurance company. To the best of my knowledge, there is no connection between the two affairs that are being investigated by two different police units. Bernard has never been questioned about the second affair and does not know who is involved in it. The only connection between the two is the pictures.”

Isaac Zrog’s attorney, Ze’ev Gordon, said in response: “Zrog was indeed arrested over a month ago in Germany on suspicion of trading in art forgeries. He is a trader in artwork from the former Soviet Union, but these works are real; they have been examined and are examined by experts, and are only offered for sale after being certified. An investigation is currently ongoing in several places regarding the paintings, but we are convinced that when the investigation is completed, it will be clear that there is no basis whatsoever for the charges that Zrog is involved in the sale of forged artwork.” Time will tell if these investigations lead the police to new discoveries about criminals in the art world, but meanwhile in the past month, a whole parade of people involved in this realm − dealers, bureaucrats and some renowned authorities − have been asked by the police to provide expert opinions on the matter.

“I’ll tell you a story, so you’ll understand this world,” says the dealer sitting across from me. “One day I bring a world-renowned expert to a bank in Switzerland to examine a painting that’s for sale. We enter the vault, with the security cameras and all that, and this painting is set up in the middle. The expert sits down next to the client, and for hours he looks at the painting, he goes on and on about the composition and the brushstrokes, and I feel like hitting him over the head with something. What are you talking about, I’m thinking. This is how the story works, though: Wherever there’s big money, you often find crime hiding behind it, and some people I know made millions off of paintings that are only worth a few thousand. Still,” he laughs, “forgery has a price too.”

Thanks![edit]

Thanks, although the article does not mention the specific paintings the circumstances are suspicious enough to exclude the painting from the article. I have also removed it from List_of_Russian_artists#L and put a notice on the commons image commons:File:Lentulov Lady in Blue.jpg. I have copied this conversation to Talk:Aristarkh Lentulov please continue the discussion there Alex Bakharev (talk) 23:38, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

I have also nominated the painting for deletion - commons:Commons:Deletion requests/File:Lentulov Lady in Blue.jpg. You are welcome to participate Alex Bakharev (talk) 23:52, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

August 2013[edit]

Hello, and welcome to Wikipedia. This is a message letting you know that one of your recent edits to Aristarkh Lentulov has been undone by an automated computer program called ClueBot NG.

Information icon Please do not remove content or templates from pages on Wikipedia, as you did to Aristarkh Lentulov, without giving a valid reason for the removal in the edit summary. Your content removal does not appear constructive and has been reverted. Please make use of the sandbox if you'd like to experiment with test edits. Thank you. Transcendence (talk) 19:02, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

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Warning icon Please stop your disruptive editing. If you continue to blank out or remove portions of page content, templates, or other materials from Wikipedia, as you did at Aristarkh Lentulov, you may be blocked from editing. Thank you. Transcendence (talk) 19:21, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

If this is a shared IP address, and you did not make the edits, consider creating an account for yourself so you can avoid further irrelevant notices.

Notice of ANI[edit]

Information icon Hello. There is currently a discussion at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents regarding an issue with which you may have been involved. Thank you. Transcendence (talk) 19:32, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

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You have been blocked temporarily from editing for making legal threats. Once the block has expired, you are welcome to make useful contributions. If you think there are good reasons why you should be unblocked, you may appeal this block by adding the following text below this notice: {{unblock|reason=Your reason here ~~~~}}. However, you should read the guide to appealing blocks first.  Toddst1 (talk) 20:28, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
If this is a shared IP address, and you did not make the edits, consider creating an account for yourself so you can avoid further irrelevant notices.

I have left notices [1] and [2] asking to unblock you. I think you will be unblocked soon. Meanwhile read WP:NLT, it is very difficult to edit Wikipedia if have to consult with your lawyers every time you make an edit. Some people can afford it some do not. That is why it is very easy to get yourself banned from the site for actions that look like legal threats. Do not do it in the future Alex Bakharev (talk) 03:15, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

  • I have unblocked you per discussion on AN/I. Alex Bakharev (talk) 11:05, 24 August 2013 (UTC)