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November 2023

Jean Michel-Basquiat work- foiled art forgery or “childish prank”? A sculptural frame supposedly by Jean-Michel Basquiat, offered for $3 million at TEFAF in 2017, was revealed to be an elaborate creation by Austrian artist André Heller. Heller admitted to assembling the piece, embellishing authentic sketches by Basquiat with red paint, nails, and a broom handle. He placed a genuine Basquiat portrait acquired in 1990 within this frame, later showcased at the Viennese gallery Wienerroither & Kohlbacher. Heller described the work as a mix of truth and fiction, considering it a “childish prank”. Despite not selling at TEFAF, the piece was eventually bought for 800,000 euros in 2018. While Heller stated that the frame wasn’t sold with a certificate of authenticity and was considered an independent artwork by both him and the gallery, Basquiat expert Dieter Buchhart expressed shock upon discovering the truth, refuting claims that he had authenticated the piece. Heller, denying forgery allegations, repurchased the frame. Read more here.