TITLE: The secret to making THE BEST ART MUSEUM possible and acquiring a collection for less than 1% the normal price of famous art. The secret ingredient: ART FORGERY.
It’s difficult to fully appreciate certain types of art from just a photo, especially large pieces or three-dimensional works like statues.
- Picasso’s Guernica (11 feet high, 25 feet wide)
- Michelangelo’s David (17 feet tall)
- The Sistine Chapel ceiling
- The Cave of Hands
Unfortunately, these famous works are spread throughout the world, and are not all easy to access (especially if you’re on a budget).
Let’s start a new art museum called “THE BEST ART MUSEUM.”
This is no idle boast—the museum really will contain the best art in the world, for one simple reason: all the art in the museum is a FAKE.
Actually, let’s revise that: “fake” has a negative connotation, but really, who can even tell the difference between an original work and a high-quality forgery? (See Figure 1.)
So let’s say that each piece in this museum is an extremely accurate copy of a famous work.
Fig. 1: Which of these two incredibly accurately drawn M.C. Escher works is the original, and which is the copy? Only the most detail-oriented art historian will be able to tell. And sometimes there isn’t even a distinction: if 100 numbered prints were made from a carved wood block, is there anything that really separates those 100 “official” prints from a 101st print made by museum staff decades later? (Answer: yes, millions of dollars.)
Since the vast majority of art is old enough to be out of copyright, there are no legal hurdles, either!
Additionally, we know that a skillfully-made forgery can fool even well-informed art scholars, so there should be no doubt that the works are every bit as valid from an art-appreciation standpoint as the originals.
This has five huge advantages:
- By obtaining only copies of expensive artwork, we free up an enormous amount of money (copies will be cheaper than the originals).
- Impossible-to-obtain works of art can be “acquired” in this fashion. (No matter how much money a museum has, the original Sistine Chapel ceiling cannot be purchased.)
- Works can be thematically arranged without regard to budget / availability of an artwork.
- Duplicate (triplicate?) copies of a work can be placed in multiple locations. So Michelangelo’s David can appear in both the “statues of dudes” and the “Renaissance sculpture” galleries.
- Security and insurance can be reduced; there is no need to insure a painting for hundreds of millions of dollars if it can be easily re-created.
Additionally, since none of the pieces in the museum are one-of-a-kind, they can also be offered for sale: the museum can serve as an enormous art showroom. So an art aficionado who really likes a specific painting can just take it right off the wall and purchase it at the gift shop.
Fig. 2: Modern art and abstract impressionism would be a great topic for this museum, except that most of the pieces from 20th century will be copyrighted for the next 100+ years. The museum will need to focus primarily on art from before the 1920s.
Fig. 3: Abstract art would be extremely easy to replicate; an art student could easily copy several famous out-of-copyright pieces during a summer internship.
PROS: Obtaining famous works of art for a museum no longer requires daring art heists.
CONS: You will have to endure many negative reviews of your museum in high-society publications.