Tag Archive for Mark Landis

FAUX Real: On the Trail of an Art Forger – Art and Craft Trailer

Hey Trekkers!

picture: LSU University Art Museum

The forger – Mark Augustus Landis
Also known Aliases:
2009 – Steven Gardiner
2010 – Father Arthur Scott
2011 – Father James Brantley
2012 – Mark Lanois
2013 – Martin Lynley and John Grauman

Well, as I think back to August 7, 2008 whilst at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art working on preparations for an acquisitions meeting, I am proud to say that I am the sole individual to bring down the most prolific art forger in history! Now, I can continue to educate people but now in a much bigger and broader scale with a new medium and here’s why!

The film, Art and Craft that debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, will hit theaters in the US on September 19 at Lincoln Plaza in New York City. Art and Craft has been getting rave reviews from all the festivals in which it has been an official selection and much attention from movie goers. I am certain that the museum realm will once again open their eyes to my findings once Art and Craft hits theaters.

For those of you not in the US but want to see the film, EARLY 2015 you will be able to find Art and Craft on DVD, Amazon Instant Video, NETFLIX, iTunes, Hulu and other streaming media.

Trekker, your daily work is a big contribution to the museum community and don’t think for a moment it goes unnoticed! That day in August, yeah I never thought this would happen!

Here is a link on Youtube.com for the official theatrical trailer. Please share on your social media sites so you can help me continue to spread the word about the most prolific art forger in history!

Talk Soon,

Matt

This post is also available in French, translated by Marine Martineau.

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FAUX Real: On the Trail of an Art Forger Part 5

Here we are at my fifth entry for the FAUX Real blog and I hope that you have been enlightened and feel free to contact me directly with questions.

I mentioned the aliases of Gardiner, Scott, Brantley and Lanois the last time in part four. Let us start with the first alias Steven Gardiner. This was in 2009 with the Mississippi Museum of Art when Landis gifted a watercolor by Stuart Davis. Later he gifted forgeries of the Lepine oil on panel as well as the self portrait by Marie Laurencin. The interesting thing that I mentioned when I started this blog is that Landis gifted these forgeries in honor of his mother or dad as he refers to them. When Landis used Gardiner, he gifted in honor of Joane Green Gardiner his mother… his mother was Jonita Joyce Brantley… now giving his mother an alias. How does that honor her memory since she passed in April of 2010.

picture: LSU University Art Museum

Mark Landis
Also known Aliases:
2009 – Steven Gardiner
2010 – Father Arthur Scott
2011 – Father James Brantley
2012 – Mark Lanois

Second alias of Father Arthur Scott (in memory of his mother Helen Mitchell Scott) I discovered in September of 2010 when he approached the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill wanting to gift them a black chalk drawing by a French academic supposedly from the 17th century not to be confused with the red chalk drawing of a reclining nude I found over the years that was also 17th century. Landis dressed the part as a Jesuit priest with the balck suit, white plastic collar and the Jesuit lapel pin driving his late mother’s red Cadillac Seville. Maybe the diocese would drive a Caddy but a priest? That was one thing that made Landis suspicious to the institutions that were approached by Landis disguised as a priest. Mark Tullos at the Hilliard University Art Museum brought Fthr. Scott to my attention and now Tullos is the Deputy Director of the Louisiana State Museums. Good for Mark! Tullos, not Landis.

After Landis confessed to what he had been doing over thirty years to The Financial Times, I figured Landis had been shopped by me and would stop… or at least take some time to figure out how to start back up. To my surprise I get a call from a high school in New Orleans and the same day a call from a university in Georgia telling me that they had just been visited by Fthr. James Brantley… aka Mark Landis. It did not take Landis even six months to come up with a new name and believe it or not James Brantley was the name of his mother’s second husband… James E. Brantley!

Now to the fourth and final, at this point, alias Mark Lanois. Landis approached and gifted 10-11 forgeries to Loyola University in New Orleans ten years earlier and had talked with the same development person in February 2012 and told him his name was Mark Lanois. The staff person at Loyola had been following my updates over the years and contacted me regarding Landis and his dealings with them. I could not believe that now after a year of confessing to The Financial Times he was still at his con and now had come up with two more alias. Guys I have so much to share with you on this case and look for an upcoming publication in The New Yorker by a writer that has been with The New Yorker since 1980 and was at my home this past weekend and interviewed me for over twelve hours. This should come out this spring. So keep a look out and do your due diligence and…

Talk soon!

Matt

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FAUX Real: On the Trail of an Art Forger Part 4

picture: LSU University Art Museum

Mark Landis
Also known Aliases:
2009 – Steven Gardiner
2010 – Father Arthur Scott
2011 – Father James Brantley
2012 – Mark Lanois

So left I left you hanging with the thought of Picasso. As I have been talking with you, I mentioned that my mission has been to inform and educate people regarding Landis, his alias and his movements. Let’s go to Jacksonville Florida.

I called Holly Keris, curator at the Cummer Museum, and had told her of Landis and what I had discovered in 2008, the Cummer had not been ‘hit’. I called Holly a week later to check on her and the museum to see how they fared after a hurricane passed through. Holly told me she was fine and the collection was not hurt by the hurricane. But, Holly tells me over the phone, ‘guess what Matt, I have a FedEx envelope with an oil on panel by Picasso sitting on my desk’. Turns out, they had been gifted Portrait de Lora by Picasso an oil on panel that had been bought in at a US auction in 2008. Guess who the buyer was? Good guess, I have no idea! Landis forged and gifted a Picasso to another major US institution, the Cummer. A Picasso, yes! What I have discovered gang is Landis is not just making forgeries of lesser known artists but majors such as Picasso, Signac, Daumier, and many others, which also includes forged documents from John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson. I found that he had cut blank pages from the backs of centuries old books from libraries and used those pages to help him create and authenticate ‘the real McCoy’. Some kind of guts and foresight to make this happen. The institution that I know of for this occasion will remain anonymous. I can tell you Landis was caught and is no longer welcome…

So where do we go from here? I have been giving you tidbits on my discovery and how I came to find Landis. The truth is my fellow bloggers, is I have so much to share and so little time that I really do not know how to begin with all of this. I mean ask yourself if you were the sole person to discover an art forger, not know when to release this information to the authorities and track someone five years and pressing on, what would you do? I was afraid of slander, libel, and defamation of Landis. I had the proof in the pudding and evidence that this was real. I have never wanted or thought that this whole Landis case would take me anywhere nor is it what I sought after. However, this case on Landis has not only proven to strange and interesting, but it reawakened my life to not take things at face value but be diligent in your work and personal lives. Always be aware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing because they are real and they are out there. More later and I once again want to thank Angela for asking me to be part of The Team of Registrar Trek and I look forward to comments and contacts from you.

So this week, I ask you all to keep yourselves alert, check your files on the last name of Landis, Gardiner, Scott, Brantley and Lanois. Why you may ask yourself, those are the last names of the first four alias that I have found. Remember to look for my contact information is on the authors page of Registrar Trek.

Talk soon!

Matt

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FAUX Real: On the Trail of an Art Forger Part 3

picture: LSU University Art Museum

Mark Landis
Also known Aliases:
2009 – Steven Gardiner
2010 – Father Arthur Scott
2011 – Father James Brantley
2012 – Mark Lanois

Hopefully I have sparked your interest on Landis thus far and are sharing this with others, even if they are not in the ‘art realm’. So Landis has been up to this for over 30 years. But why, people ask me – for example in a comment to part 1 here. There has never been any money exchanged, no mail or insurance fraud, no fraud of any type that has any interest to the authorities. Former FBI agent, Bob Wittman told me that if there has not been money exchanged or if Landis never sold his forgeries, then he has done nothing wrong. Except Landis has taken valuable time of museum professionals over the years and there are indirect and direct costs and they all hurt budgets and I believe museum professionals reputations. There are over 17,000 institutions here in the US that either showcase art or are collecting entities. And I have only found or have had 52 come forward, I know there are more out there that Landis has duped but they do not want to admit to themselves or their institutions being part of Landis’ game.

How does one detect a forgery you may ask? I have had not formal training or education into investigation. I was curious about the Signac gifted to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and the Lepine gifted to St. Louis1. When I started to get suspicious, my anal retentive, registrar, OCD frame of thinking kicked in. I looked at the six gifts from Landis to Oklahoma City under a simple magnifying lupe and ultraviolet light. Each piece, the Signac, Lepine, Daumier, Laurencin, red chalk 17th century drawing and Valtat that we had received earlier, all had some kind of querky things about them. The Lepine glowed white under black light. Why? Where ever Landis did not use his 20th century oils to paint over the digital reproduction, they glowed white. The red chalk drawing supposed to be 17th century… not only did areas in question glow white or a dark blue but there was some other tool I used to confirm my suspicion… my nose. For a 17th century drawing to be authentic, the matting it was affixed to should have been brittle and snapped with little effort. I remember peeling back the lower left corner of the mat expecting it to snap, not harming the image, and guess what… it was stark white… brand new. Then I lifted the exposed area to my nose and it smelled like COFFEE! Fake!

After having conversations with more than 20 institutions in less than 60 minutes, I uncovered the most prolific art forger of our time. But not like any that has been shopped in the past, but an unusual character that was not in it for the money, but to be philanthropic, honor if mother and dad and to be treated ‘nice’. Landis had no interest in seeing the FAUX Real exhibition I put together at the University of Cincinnati last April. And I quote ‘I don’t care to see this stuff, I have already seen it. Is there anyone here to speak to that is nice? Yeah, that would be nice. Is there anyone here to talk to that is nice?’. Words from Landis… try three days of this as I did in the summer of 2008… it will wear you out. So my fellow sleuths, don’t be afraid to use your gut instinct and ask questions. You just be the next registrar to uncover something as big as my case on Mark Augustus Landis. Discerning eyes, experience, due diligence, patience, inquisitive nature… don’t take things at face value. You may get duped!

More specifics on this scam coming soon. I could write for hours on this case but I am trying to keep my two week series concise only giving you enough to wonder why and get you thinking. Oh wait until I share the forgery of the Picasso! Remember to look for my contact information is on the authors page of Registrar Trek. Talk soon!

Matt

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FAUX Real: On the Trail of an Art Forger Part 2

picture: LSU University Art Museum

Mark Landis
Also known Aliases:
2009 – Steven Gardiner
2010 – Father Arthur Scott
2011 – Father James Brantley
2012 – Mark Lanois

Well, I mentioned at the end of part one of this blog that I had the complete story on Mark Landis… I should have said ‘incomplete’ as I am still tracking Landis to this day. It is amazing, to say the least, that I have put five years of my life thus far tracking this individual’s movements, but still have the gut feeling he is laying low on how he can restart his scam even though Landis told me he was going to stop. Yeah stop what he has been doing for the last thirty plus years? I thought this was the case when I found his third alias, Father James Brantley in 2011. This was shortly after the story was released by the Financial Times where he confessed to what he had been doing and how he had been doing ‘it’. I figured after reading the article (you can find the article on the internet) that he truly had been shopped and would stop… my quest was over… and Landis was done. It was not until February of 2012 that I received an inquiry from a development officer at Loyola University in New Orleans. This particular gentleman knew I had been tracking Landis over the years and he had some new news! Landis had approached Loyola, as he did ten years earlier as Mark Landis, now as Mark Lanois. I guess that Lanois must be French for Landis, right! I recorded this in my dossier and now I have four alias’ (I will talk about each in the upcoming parts).

So let’s back up before I get ahead of myself and get you all excited. On August 7, 2008, after finding something was not right with the gifts to Oklahoma City, I put out a call to my colleagues at other US institutions to see if anyone had a donor and gifts from Mark Landis. Within the first hour, I had over twenty inquiries via phone and email wanting to know what was going on. I shared my story with each one that I conversed and the stories were each the same. Landis had either sent a gift via FedEx or showed up in person promising more art and money for an endowment. Each institution gave him carte blanche in their museum shops, gave him dinner never to hear from him again. My favorite question I asked each one was… ‘did he mention he had a bad heart and was to have surgery?’. To my amazement the answer was yes! I guess he has been having heart surgery for over thirty years then, right? That was his ploy to why people may have wondered why he never resurfaced. Maybe the surgery didn’t go well or maybe he was in bad health. That was not the case. He used this as one of many reasons not to show up again… you know why? He used many tactics to keep himself under wraps even though I do not believe he felt he was doing anything wrong. But fraud is fraud and a forgery is a forgery. If you knowingly give something to someone else under a false pretence, then you are knowingly defrauding that individual. Plain and simple. You do not have to get money for what you do or scam or scheme or however you wish to eventually categorize Landis after reading my blog. Landis has knowingly been doing this for a long time and you know he knows, otherwise why would he change his name and appearance four times in five years? He knew someone had discovered him and has been tracking him… yeah me!

More in a few weeks and please feel free to contact me with questions or any comments. My contact information is on the authors page of Registrar Trek. Talk soon!

Matt

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FAUX Real: On the Trail of an Art Forger Part 1

When I’m thinking about remarkable registrar’s stories one story immediately comes to my mind: The story of the art forger Mark Landis. Registrar Matthew C. Leininger discovered his forgery and tries to keep track on him ever since. I’m really happy that he agreed to contribute his story. We will do this as a follow-up real life detective story, so stay tuned! You can watch some of the forgeries that were done by Landis in this youtube video. Landis is still around doing his forgery, so you will always find his picture and known aliases in every story. It’s our goal to keep museum people around the world informed about this art forger and how he acts. If you recognize him: inform Matt Leininger about it. Thanks! – Angela

What I am about to share with you is the insight of my personal encounters with what the New York Times has called ‘the most prolific art forger of our time’.
I was a registrar and department head at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in 2008 when this all began.

picture: LSU University Art Museum

Mark Landis
Also known Aliases:
2009 – Steven Gardiner
2010 – Father Arthur Scott
2011 – Father James Brantley
2012 – Mark Lanois

Registrars are the true caretakers of collections and overtime their experience becomes second nature when reviewing collections, especially when they come from a donor that seems obscure. August 7, 2008 my due diligence and discerning eye paid off in a way that I could not even fathom when I uncovered Mark Augustus Landis of Laurel, Mississippi. Landis earlier in 2008 had gifted a water color ‘by’ Louis Valtat to OKC. We were so excited about this rare work that without doing any research we matted, framed and installed the work in our gallery. We were not only excited about this gift, but the promised gift of more art work and money for an endowment that Landis told us about. This was in May of 2008 when we received the Valtat. July of 2008 Landis arrived at the museum during one of the most difficult installations the museum had taken on. I was called to drop everything I was doing and cater Landis along with the Chief Curator and Director. It was a grueling two and a half days to say the least. The staff considered Landis not only obscure, but there was something just not right about him, not a good feeling you know? We have him carte blanche in our store and fed him lunch, which he never ate. The chief curator took him to the airport for his return to Laurel (did I mention Landis paid his own airfare, hotels and meals?). Landis fell asleep at the gate and someone stole all his store goods! We had to return to the airport and help him rebook so he could make it home.
I mentioned August 7 and I remember it well. We were getting ready to take the five newly gifted works to our committee for accessioning. I did my research on the pieces and low and behold the Savannah College of Art and Design had received the same Paul Signac watercolor gifted from Landis around the same time he was in OKC. Then came an oil on panel by Stanislas Lepine. This piece showed up in a press release on the website at the St. Louis University Museum of Art. Hmm, yes gifted by Landis. I was onto something. I researched the remaining three and also found them in other collections throughout the United States. After tracking Landis movements over the last five years, I have uncovered well over one hundred forgeries gifted by Landis in twenty states and over fifty institutions… and I am the sole individual that found Landis and revealed his scam nationally and internationally.
This is just the beginning and I have only scratched the surface with this blog. I thank Angela Kipp for inviting me to participate and I hope you enjoy as I continue to share with you my dossier and the complete story on Mark Landis.

Stay tuned,

Matt

This text is also available in French translated by Kelsey Brow.

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