Between 1986 and 1994, British conman John Drewe flooded the art market with more than 200 bogus masterpieces supposedly by modern master, deceiving collectors, art dealers and auction houses in London, Paris and New York. Among the luminaries he fooled: Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Christie's, Sotheby's.
His accomplice was artist John Myatt, whom he'd found through an ad in Private Eye in 1983. While Myatt forged paintings by masters like Giacometti and Matisse, Drewe faked provenances, scammed his way into the art world and London archives, where he stole documents and replaced them with new "old" ones he had created himself.
The masquerade came to an end in 1995 when Drewe's wife, from whom he was separated, outed him. Only about 80 of the phoney works have been recovered.
I wonder how people who're so obviously smart go so badly wrong. What they could accomplish if they put their brains to good use! The story's not new of course, but I just watched the Masterminds documentary on TV. You can watch it here at YouTube so you can see for yourself how the pair did it.