By Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent
More than a hundred paintings and drawings by Vincent Van Gogh may be fakes, according to The Art Newspaper, a reputable specialist publication, released today.
Among the alleged fakes is Sunflowers, one of a series of seven works with the same name, sold to a Japanese firm for £24.75 million in 1987.
The report also claims that a portrait of Dr. Gachet hanging in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris is a counterfeit.
A similar study of the doctor, who cared for Van Gogh before he killed himself, set a world record price for a picture in 1990 when it was sold to Japan for £48.8 million in 1987.
The claims are likely to be hotly debated and challenged. But, if proved, they will damage the reputation of many galleries and cause widespread concern among dealers and auction houses.
The Art Newspaper questions the authenticity of several of Van Gogh's most famous oils: the Sunflowers sold to Japan, two self-portraits, The Garden at Auvers, The Arlesienne and the portrait of Dr. Gachet in Paris, as well as many watercolours and drawings on paper. The investigation is based on an examination of several scholars' studies by Martin Bailey, an expert on the artist.
The Art Newspaper said one of the doyens of Van Gogh scholarship, Jan Hulsker, believed that 45 works listed as by Van Gogh are fakes. He said he was "very doubtful" about the authenticity of many more.
The 67 oils allegedly painted at Auvers-sur-Oise, when Van Gogh was being cared for by Dr. Gachet in 1890, were particularly doubtful, he said.
The scholars believe that Dr. Gachet, an amateur artist and a discredited doctor who may have exploited Van Gogh in his last days, may be the source of some fakes.
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