Friday, July 2, 2010

Recovered Caravaggio is Probably a COPY!

Earlier this week I posted about a stolen Caravaggio painting, The Taking of Christ ("The Kiss of Judas") that was recovered in Berlin (see above (and note damage incurred by theft!)). However, a lot of debate has occurred this week as to the authenticity of this painting, which originally was housed in the Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art (Ukraine).  As reported here, it is very likely that this this recovered "masterpiece" is actually a contemporary copy from the 17th century.  Experts argue that this copy was probably created 20 or 25 years after Caravaggio's original painting of c. 1602.

In truth, the authenticity of the Odessa painting and another version of the painting (located in Dublin) has been disputed over the years.  At this point, most experts agree that the Dublin painting is an original work by Caravaggio.  In fact, the Odessa painting was only authenticated as recently as 2005 (it had long been considered a copy, but was authenticated while it was on exhibit in Spain).  In a twisted way, I guess it's good that this Odessa painting was stolen: the events have afforded experts another chance to reexamine this work.  Although I haven't examined the painting for myself, I have a feeling that this new (and not-so-new) opinion of the painting is correct.  I think that it's a copy.  Although I don't know the specifics regarding the 2005 authentication, it seems like someone (a Spaniard?) was a little too hasty and a little too determined to authenticate the Odessa painting.  And hey, I can't blame that person too much.  I would want to authenticate and "discover" a work by Caravaggio, too.

Obviously, it's hard for the Odessa museum to accept this new opinion.  No one wants to hear that their prized piece is no longer a masterpiece (and also not worth the previous estimated value of $100 million).  I guess that by now the thieves have heard this news, as well.  How ironic: they went through all of that trouble to steal a fake.