Ex-NFL player held in Art Scam
- Blog Post by: James Lileks
- February 28, 2013 - 11:57 AM
. . . and it's about a transgendered Polynesian sorceror, too.
We’ll get to that. First, name the artist of this work:
Start guessing. Answer at the end.
URBAN PLANNING Because the world comes to screeching halt when you say Edina Byerly’s Update, EDINA BYERLY’S UPDATE. This matters because it’s a microcosm of every attempt to build something around here. Yesterday I mentioned the redesigned plan for the new project, which put the store on the corner, but still had lots of open parking space. Business Journal is now reporting that the Planning Commission tabled on the vote, while other concerns are raised. The problem seems to be the same one that struck the Target redesign few years back: people walking on the Edina Promenade can see loading docks. There has to be a way to hide the loading docks. Perhaps an underground garage. Maybe the stores could have supplies dropped on the roof. Why do we have to see loading docks?
UrbanMSP has an interesting back-and-forth about the project and the nature of France Avenue. There’s some enthusiasm for reducing the lanes and making it more pedestrian-friendly. For heaven’s sake. No. Putting the pedestrian walkways through the middle of the blocks ought to be sufficient; it creates a walkable space that’s much more pleasant than strolling along the rolling torrent of cars blasting up and down France. If the purpose is to choke off traffic on France so fewer people will drive there, again: please stop trying to do this. Edina is not Manhattan. People drive to Target to get 24-roll bales of Scott Bathroom tissue and perhaps a desk. Then some meatballs over at Cub, because there was a coupon, some wine next door. Making the area incrementally more difficult to reach will not make people say “oh, to heck with my car. Please, build light rail.” It’s not going to happen.
MOVIES Early buzz on that “Superman” reboot: best picture of the year. Really.
YIKES Air pollution in Beijing yesterday was particularly bad. Emphasis on "particulate." Holy Crow.
ART Sure, this is just the story I expected to read today. From Artinfo.com
NFL Player Offers Gauguin in Hail Mary Ponzi Scheme: Former National Football League player Russell Allen Erxleben was arrested last month on charges of luring investors into a $2-million Ponzi scheme that included the opportunity to invest in a Paul Gauguin painting, "The Sorcerer of Hiva Oa," which he claimed could be worth as much as $58 million. Erxleben, who remains in custody and will plead not guilty, allegedly told would-be investors that he needed $75,000 to further the process of authenticating the supposed Post-Impressionist masterpiece, demanding $25,000 up front.
Here’s the painting.
Painted by Gauguin in 1902, it is the third to last painting he did prior to his death from venereal disease in early 1903. It depicts what appears to be a man in a red cape. Behind the sorcerer are two women, peaking out behind a tree. In the foreground next to the sorcerer are a bird and a fox. The scene is one common to the landscape of the island of Hiva Oa in Tahiti, where Gauguin lived at the time of his death.
Now it gets peculiar:
From Gauguin's own writings we know that the sorcerer is really a mahu. Wikopedia defines a mahu as "what in western cultures is called transgender, that is they are born with a male gender identity, and choose a female gender role. They are more likely to be androphiliac (sexually attracted to men). Parents allow their sons to choose to become a mahu." The two women peaking from behind the trees are representative of the Catholic Church. The posture of the women indicates the scorn that mahus were held in by the church.
Now it gets weird:
We know the original owner placed the painting in the Frankfurt museum of Art, where it lived until 1938. Circumstantial evidence indicates the painting belonged to a high German official during WWII. Herman Goering is our top suspect for this honor. We know that Goering used forgers during the war, so it is natural to assume he had the Liege painting forged and during the repatriation of German art after WWII, the forgery was given to the Liege based on some false claim of ownership.
All that comes from this 2007 story about the attempt to sell the picture, here.
In related news: that painting at the top of the blog? Olivepress says:
Workers at Barcelona’s Picasso Museum removed the cardboard behind Portrait of the Artists Mother, printed by a 15-year-old Picasso, to find a charcoal drawing of a man with a pipe.”His level of knowledge was greater than we thought it was,” she added.
If it wasn't Picasso, would they be as impressed?
I was googling around for articles that contained the words “Picasso” and “overrated” and ended up here, where I was introduced to the world of Nicolai Fechin. I like his work.
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