The BBC has reported that John Myatt the mild mannered former school teacher who was the artistic talent behind what Scotlansd Yard called the “biggest art fraud of the 20th Century” is to be the subject of a new film titled Genuine Fakes by Green Gaia Films.
Myatt whose wife left him in 1985 with two infant children was struggling with bills when he placed an ad in the paper offering to paint works in the style of famous artists to make a litle extra cash. His ad was answered by a man named John Drewe who had less than honourable intentions. Over the next ten years, Myatt produced 200 paintings that were passed off as Braques, Giacomettis, Matisses, and de Staels. Over that period Drewe was believed to have pocketed £1.8m while Myatt received a cut of £275,000.
Unlike most forgers who went through great pains to use the same materials as the original masters, Myatt claims to have used acrylics, household emulsions, and KY Jelly to acheive his desired effect.
Myatt was sentenced to a year in prison and was released after four months for good behaviour. His accomplice Drewe received a six year sentence.
Myatt became a police favourite and is now making a living doing “genuine fakes”. He is quoted as saying,
I don’t do copies. There are millions of painters who could do a copy of the Mona Lisa, for example, but I’m very happy to look at doing a work in the style of Leonardo Di Vinci. That’s the difference.
It’s like a Rory Bremner impression. He’ll do a wonderful take on John Major for example, and although he’s not copying the words of John Major he’ll use his voice and the audience will go along and have fun with him and that’s what I do with painting.