Dresden art dealer Petra Kujau was found guilty of forgery this week, after passing off three hundred paintings she had come into possession of as the work of her "great-uncle", Konrad Kujau. The 51 year-old singer turned dealer would add a facsimile of Kujau senior's signature to the paintings, then sell them on at a greatly inflated price.
So far, so mundane. What makes this story particularly WU worthy is that Konrad Kujau was himself a forger, and his self-proclaimed niece was selling her forgeries as "genuine forgeries" created by her famous uncle Konrad. It all begins to make sense once you learn that Mr. Kujau did not limit himself to forging paintings, but was also known to forge the odd diary or two, specifically those of one Adolf Hitler. Although ultimately unsuccessful, his forgeries of the Hitler Diaries
were good enough to fool not just many newspapers and magazines, but also at least two historians, and the unmasking of the hoax caused many a journalist and editor a red face. But the notoriety afforded Konrad Kujau as the man "behind" the Hitler diaries meant that he could command considerable sums for something a small as Hitler's signature on a card, and original "Kujau forgeries" soon became enough of a collector's item that he could make a comfortable living from them after his release from prison in 1987.
After his death in September 2000 his business was carried on by Petra Kujau, who evidently decided that one forgery was as good as another, and began importing cheap copies of famous works from Asian suppliers and passing them off as eminently more desirable "Kujau forgeries", which in one sense they were. But soon the sheer volume of Kujau forgeries on the market aroused the suspicions of at least one collector, who tipped off the police to the double forgery.
Which just leaves the question, just where can I get hold of a genuine Petra Kujau double forgery? Now that's something I'd like to own!