Van Meegeren: The Forger Who Fooled the Nazis

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Van Meegeren: The Forger Who Fooled the Nazis
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Review

There’s a touch of steel in Andrew Graham-Dixon’s voice as he tells the story of Dutch faker Han van Meegeren, who managed to persuade wartime art historians – and Hermann Göring – that his forgeries were genuine. He specialised in Vermeers: not those glorious secular interiors we love today, but larger, religious canvases from a previously unrecorded “middle period” of the artist, and he was only unmasked in Holland at the end of the war.

The more he sold, the worse his work got. Graham-Dixon audibly gasps at one shocking effort now languishing in the basement of the Rijksmuseum – but as he points out, van Meegeren’s greatest con was getting people to believe in the illusion he’d created. It’s a sordid tale all round.

Summary

Andrew Graham-Dixon investigates the story of Dutch artist and forger Han van Meegeren, who made millions during the Second World War selling fake Vermeers in Nazi-occupied Holland. Following a trail of evidence across Europe, the art critic pieces together how Van Meegeren fooled the art establishment - and even swindled Hermann Goering, selling him what was then one of the most expensive paintings in the world.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon
Director Colin Murray
Executive Producer Richard Bright
Producer Colin Murray
Education