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Documentary Planned on the Life, Art & Lies of Elmyr de Hory

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • January 05, 2014

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Elmyr de Hory painting, after Matisse

Filmmaker Jeff Oppenheim (“Funny Valentine,” Universal Pictures, and “A Passion for Giving,” PBS) announced the launch of the IndieGoGo campaign for his documentary “Real Fake.” The feature length documentary chronicles the life, art, and lies of Elmyr de Hory--one of the most prolific art forgers of the past century.  The film, currently in production and being produced as a co-production with France, is expected to be released in early summer of 2014.

Walk into any of the world’s museums or art auction houses, and you have good reason to doubt your own eyes. Is that Picasso real? Did Modigliani really paint that masterpiece? The answer may be yes or may be no. These works could very well be by the hand of Elmyr de Hory, one of history’s most talented and prolific art forgers.

Following the lead of a professional art crime investigator, the producers examine Elmyr’s past, cut through a myriad of aliases, searching for never-before-revealed archival records, police files, and the circumstances contributing to his illicit career.  The team works to unravel the mystery of Elmyr’s true identity, extent of his criminal activity, personal motivations, and unusual and extraordinary talent.  The film also relies in part on the recollections of people who knew Elmyr, including the man who lived with Elmyr for the last ten years of his life and up until the artist’s suicide in 1976.  Footage also includes an interview with Elmyr’s lawyer and long-time friend who stands firm in his conviction that Elmyr would never have gone to jail for his crimes.  Ultimately the film raises the bar with new research that suggests that the number of Elmyr’s fakes might substantially exceed the number previous;y estimated.

The documentary also weaves a grander contemporary moralistic narrative. “In part, Real Fake examines the issues of art forgery and the current run-away art market,” says Oppenheim. “However, it also offers us the opportunity to explore the grander themes of what is art, what is the value of art and for that matter how these perceptions enter our own lives outside of the art world on a daily basis.” 

The film draws comparison to the counterfeiting of luxury brands and the endless and willing consumption of these types of fakes by millions.  It references our timeless love for magic and illusion and even compares art forgery to classic cons such as Three Card Monte, which draws us in through our own avarice and prideful sense that we can beat the system or get something for nothing.  Seemingly with minimal direct reference it also begs the conversation about more recent fakes, forgers and Ponzi schemes.  Oppenheim adds, “During this investigative journey, we hope to create a discourse regarding the aesthetic, moral and economic impact of these crimes of deception.”

The IndieGoGo campaign, which was launched on December 20th, 2013, was created to gain further support for the project.  More than just helping to fund the project, the crowd funding platform is a means to invite people to join the conversation. To learn more about the project and the perks associated with each level of contribution visit: http://igg.me/at/RealFakeDoc/x/5597038


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