Fake or Fortune?


Series 3 - Episode 3 Chagall



Chagall is in the spotlight in this episode - and under the microscope and the spectrometer and various other bits of hi-tech gear designed to work out if paintings are forgeries or not. The work in question is a nude portrait ostensibly painted in 1909-10, now owned by a Leeds family. It looks Chagall-y (heavy outlines, vivid colours, dreamy atmosphere) to the untrained eye, and to the trained eye of Philip Mould too.

There’s one enormous catch: the Russian art market is riddled with fakes (90 per cent by one estimate here) and a forger Mould meets claims hundreds of pseudo-Chagalls he made in the 1980s are still on the walls of museums and galleries.


Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould help property developer Martin Lang try to prove the painting he bought in 1992 is by modern master Marc Chagall. The search for clues leads to the artist's home town of Vitebsk in the former Soviet republic of Belarus, where Fiona makes a connection between the work and Chagall's life story. However, things take a more negative turn with news of a fake Chagall being sold in Minsk, and when scientific testing raises more questions than answers, Philip travels to Los Angeles to consult a forger. Will the £100,000 the owner spent 22 years ago turn out to have been a shrewd investment or an expensive mistake?
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