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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Art
Banksy Arrest Hoax — A press release posted yesterday on PRLog.com announced that not only had Banksy been arrested (on charges of vandalism, conspiracy, racketeering and counterfeiting), but that his identity had been revealed—his real name supposedly being "Paul William Horner." The press release was a hoax, but a number of media outlets ran with the story before cottoning on to the deception. A humor site, IYWIB.com, appears to be behind the hoax. How a Fake Press Release Convinced the Internet Banksy…
Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2013.   Comments (3)

The Fake Beggar of Gothenburg — Over in Gothenburg, Sweden, locals were puzzled by a homeless person begging for money at the train station, who, upon closer inspection, turned out to be a doll. Police thought it might be some kind of fraud (i.e. a homeless people using a mannequin to beg for him). But it turned out to be the work of a 13-year-old kid, Adam, who created it as "something fun" for a school art project. Brings to mind Alan Abel's Omar the Beggar hoax. The english-language article didn't have a picture…
Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2013.   Comments (0)

Are the Bush bathroom paintings a hoax? — A week ago, news broke that a hacker (calling himself 'Guccifer') had broken into George W. Bush's email account. The hacker sent some of the emails and photos he found there to the Smoking Gun, which promptly published them. Three of the leaked photos showed works of art, apparently by Bush. Two of the works were self-portraits in the bathroom — Bush taking a shower and a bath. The third showed Bush working on a more traditional scene of a seaside chapel. It's the bathroom…
Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2013.   Comments (0)

A Case of Art Plagiarism — Art fraud typically involves the copying or imitation of famous artists. For instance, Han van Meegeren made millions by claiming that his paintings were actually newly discovered works by Vermeer. But the recent case of Rashidi Barrett shows that it's also possible to make money by copying the work of relatively obscure artists. Rashidi Barrett (image posted on his website) Barrett's work generated positive buzz when he began showing it in Norfolk, Virginia around 2011. He used his…
Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2013.   Comments (2)


An Exhibition of Invisible Art — London's Hayward Gallery will soon be hosting an exhibition of invisible art. It's the kind of art where you basically have to take the artist's word for it that there's something there. Included will be works such as Warhol's Invisible Sculpture, "which consists of an empty plinth, on which he had once briefly stepped." Also, 1000 Hours of Staring, which is "a blank piece of paper at which artist Tom Friedman has stared repeatedly over the space of five years." I wonder how…
Posted: Wed May 23, 2012.   Comments (4)

“Why Boys Need Parents!” Is this a photograph or a painting? — This image (which appears on a lot of humor and weird picture sites around the web) is often captioned, "Why boys need parents." And try as I might, that's the only information I can find out about it. Where it came from and who created it, I have no idea. I'm not even sure whether this is a photograph or a painting, though I suspect it's a painting. The low resolution makes it difficult to tell, and I can't find any higher-res copies. It's the boy's legs, in particular, that make me…
Posted: Mon May 07, 2012.   Comments (2)

Canadian artist makes Bigfoot track shoes — Montreal-based artist Maskull Lasserre has designed shoes that make footprints in the ground as you walk along, instead of shoe prints. He's got a human-footprint shoe, but also a bigfoot-print shoe. He's quoted as saying: 'Living now in the city, I found a strange kind of loneliness seeing only human shoe prints in the puddles and snow. 'This project was my way of introducing a sort of mysterious possibility to the urban landscape, for those who happened upon it. 'But I admit that I…
Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012.   Comments (0)

How a fake Mary Todd Lincoln portrait was exposed — The Chicago Tribune tells the story of the detective work conducted by conservator Barry Bauman that led to his exposure of a portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln as a fraud. Lincoln (and, by association, his wife) is one of those historical figures who's like a magnet for hoaxes. Other hoax magnets would include George Washington and Hitler. Anatomy of a fake Lincoln Chicago Tribune ...The original portrait, painted perhaps in the mid-1860s, is of a still-anonymous woman. She wore a crucifix…
Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012.   Comments (1)

Photoshopping the Classics — Italian artist Anna Utopia Giordano (great name... can that be the name she was born with?) has created a series of works that comment on the media obsession with photoshopping models to look thin and flawless. She's taken famous classical nudes and made them thinner. So Botticelli's Venus gets slimmed down for the beach, as does Francesco Hayez's Venus. The New York Daily News quotes her as saying: Art is always in search of the perfect physical form. It has evolved through history,…
Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012.   Comments (1)

Fake Modigliani For Sale — If you've got a spare $285,000, you can buy a piece of a famous art hoax: one of the fake Modigliani sculptures found in the city of Livorno in 1984. It's up for sale on eBay. I've noticed it up there for a couple of weeks, so evidently people aren't rushing to bid on it, even though it comes with free shipping. The backstory, briefly: There was a legend in the Italian town of Livorno that when Modigliani left there in 1906, at the age of twenty-one, he dumped a bunch of sculptures in…
Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2012.   Comments (0)

Swearing Allegiance to the Southern Cross - A Possible Fake? — Questions have been raised about the authenticity of a valuable and historically important painting, Swearing Allegiance to the Southern Cross. And the debate about the painting is tangled up in a controversy about the so-called Eureka Flag, which is believed to be the precursor to Australia's current national flag. Story in Brief: The Eureka Flag rose to prominence in the mid-20th Century, at which time it became a symbol of Australian nationalism. But questions lingered about its…
Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2012.   Comments (1)

Cardiff Giant in Perth — Here are some pictures, courtesy of Nettie and Smerk, of the Cardiff Giant enjoying the sights in Perth. (Nettie sent me the pictures about three weeks ago, but Thanksgiving and the moon hoax distracted me. At least, that's the excuse for my slowness that I'm going with.) So where should the Cardiff Giant go next? Any volunteers to host him? I'm hoping it might be possible to send him somewhere in the general neighborhood of Australia.…
Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011.   Comments (6)

Cardiff Giants Invade Pasadena — I use Google news alerts to find out whenever various keywords I'm interested in appear in news stories or on websites. One of these keywords is "Cardiff Giant". This particular keyword search doesn't usually generate many results. Perhaps one or two a week. But on friday night my patience was rewarded when I got a google news alert about the creation of a new site: cardiff1869.com. The site is the creation of a Pasadena-based artist who chooses to remain anonymous, using the alias…
Posted: Sun Oct 09, 2011.   Comments (9)

Recreating the Cardiff Giant — Syracuse-based artist Ty Marshal has created a replica of the Cardiff Giant, according to its original size specifications (ten-feet tall). His replica is going to be buried in Syracuse's Lipe Art Park and then unearthed on October 16, the anniversary of the date on which the Giant was first "found" on William Newell's farm back in 1869. After being unearthed, Marshal's giant will remain on display in the park, under a tent, for one week. Visitors will be allowed to view it for 25…
Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2011.   Comments (2)

Incompetent art forgers try to sell “Warhol” portrait of non-existent Baldwin brother — From the Salt Lake Tribune: According to charging documents, the couple agreed to sell another man six Andy Warhol art pieces for $100,000 in February 2008. The man was told that the subject of the art was Mathew Baldwin, purportedly one of the brothers in the family of actors. The pieces were signed and dated 1996. After giving the couple a down payment of $25,000, the man took the art to an appraiser in California. The appraiser informed the man the art was fake because there was no…
Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009.   Comments (6)

Elmer de Hory Movie — Another film about a famous hoaxer is in the works. Julian Temple plans to make a movie about the art forger Elmyr de Hory. From reuters: The British filmmaker will take on the story of art faker Elmyr de Hory, who created and sold forgeries of paintings by the likes of Picasso and Matisse to collectors around the world between the 1940s and 1960s. De Hory, a Hungarian native, told his story to the equally notorious hoax biographer Clifford Irving (played by Richard Gere in "The Hoax"…
Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009.   Comments (3)

A fork in the road, literally — A few days ago a fork appeared in the middle of a Pasadena road. It's located, appropriately, at a fork in the road, where Pasadena and St. John avenues divide. From the Pasadena Star News: It turns out the fork is an elaborate - and expensive - birthday prank in honor of the 75th birthday of Bob Stane, founder of the Ice House comedy club, who now owns the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena... The wooden fork, is "expertly carved and painted," to look like metal, Stane said. "It's…
Posted: Fri Nov 06, 2009.   Comments (6)

Reverse Counterfeiting: The Case of the Gold Penny — Most counterfeiting takes something that is nearly worthless and turns it into something perceived to have value. Mr. Daws did just the opposite. He took value — approximately $100 worth of gold — and turned it into something perceived as nearly worthless, one cent. “It’s there, but if people don’t realize it, it’s the same as not being there,” he said. Of the 11 copper-plated gold pennies he made as part of his series, only this one was sent into the wider world... Late this summer,…
Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009.   Comments (3)

Is the bust of Nefertiti a fake? — Swiss art historian Henri Stierlin argues that the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti on display in Berlin's Pergamon museum is a fake. He says that it was created around 1912 as a way for an archaeologist to color test ancient pigments found at the digs, but when a German prince mistook it for an ancient work of art, the archaeologist didn't have the courage to correct his important guest. And so the statue came to be regarded as an ancient work of art. [Agence France Presse]
Posted: Thu May 07, 2009.   Comments (4)

Mystery Stones Explained — The mystery of why someone has been leaving white stones with cryptic black markings on them around Orleans, Massachusetts has been solved. The creator of the stones sent an explanatory letter to the local paper: The writer said the backward “R” and an “R” separated by three slashes on one line and an “X” book ended by two vertical lines underneath means “Remember 9-11.” He (most believe the writer is a male) said he came up with the design about two years ago “When I became…
Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009.   Comments (11)

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