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Treasures on Trial: The Art and Science of Detecting Fakes

Recent forgery scandals in the art world have captured headlines around the world, raising questions about the authenticity of art, antiquities, and collectibles. The timely exhibition Treasures on Trial: The Art and Science of Detecting Fakes reveals some of the most clever and most costly deceptions of our time by pairing diverse examples of fake objects with conservation science from Winterthur’s own Scientific Research and Analysis Lab, alongside the research of several other leading conservation scientists in the country. Visitors will see more than 60 examples of fakes and forgeries from the Winterthur collection as well as public and private sources and discover the motives for their creation and the evidence used in their detection.

The exhibition will examine artwork, couture, silver, sporting memorabilia, musical instruments, antiquities, and stamps along with ceramics, furniture and folk art. This broad selection of luxury and everyday objects further illustrates the rarity, supply, and desirability can make anything fair game for a clever forger or fraudster intent on turning a handsome profit.

Scientific analysis and stylistic clues will be presented alongside artwork and objects, exposing the broad range of motives and techniques used to test and fool collectors and experts. These tricks of the trade will also reveal fascinating stories about the forgers themselves.

Together with art fraud expert Colette Loll of Art Fraud Insights LLC, Winterthur’s Director of Collections and Senior Curator of Textiles Linda Eaton will introduce some of the most famous forgery scandals of the twentieth century.

Treasures on Trial will examine intriguing questions such as: What gets faked and why? How do you spot a fake? How does scientific methodology assist in this? Visitors will be invited to investigate several unresolved examples and share their opinion about the authenticity of the object based on the available evidence.

The exhibition is being organized by Winterthur Museum & Gardens and is co-curated by Colette Loll.