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Between Fakes, Forgeries, and Illicit Artifacts—Authenticity Studies in a Heritage Science Laboratory

1
Global Cultural Heritage Initiatives, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
2
Rathgen-Forschungslabor, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, 14059 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 March 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 5 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Art Crime Research (2018))
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Abstract

Since its inauguration in 1888, the Rathgen Research Laboratory of the National Museums in Berlin has been challenged by authenticity questions on cultural heritage objects. In the setting of an ever-growing market, often intertwined with the increasing global impact of illicit traffic, scientific investigations can contribute equally to art-historical, or archaeological expertise when solving questions of authenticity, and should therefore always be included when significant values are at stake. Looted or stolen artifacts, copies, fakes, and forgeries have been an intrinsic element of the market since ever, and only selectively addressed in a trans-disciplinary, more holistic way. This paper makes the case for a reliable, state-of-the-art analysis and illustrates the potential benefits of such a scientific approach to authenticity questions in selected examples: 1. the case of German art forger, Wolfgang Beltracchi; 2. brass objects of alleged Benin and Ife provenance. View Full-Text
Keywords: authenticity; painting; fake/forger; metal alloy; heritage science; conservation science authenticity; painting; fake/forger; metal alloy; heritage science; conservation science
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Simon, S.; Röhrs, S. Between Fakes, Forgeries, and Illicit Artifacts—Authenticity Studies in a Heritage Science Laboratory. Arts 2018, 7, 20.

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