Last night, the Danish auction house Bruun Rasmussen sold a painting, attributed to Icelandic expressionist painter Svavar Guðnason, to the highest bidder. Ólafur Ingi Jónsson, head of conservation at the National Gallery of Iceland is convinced the painting is forged, RÚV reports. He is of the opinion that Bruun Rasmussen has ruined the name of Svavar Guðnason by repeatedly selling forgeries of his work.
Ólafur stated that the Danish police removed the same work from an auction two years ago, suspecting it was a forgery.
“This is the same work as I examined for the Danish police and did a report on, and there was nothing about the painting attributable to Svavar. It’s very sad to say this, but the work is done as if by a seven-year-old child, who had never studied painting.
Ólafur is in Copenhagen and was present at the auction. The painting sold for the equivalent of almost ISK 500,000 (UDS 4,500, EUR 4,200), which is much lower than an original work by Svavar would sell at. There was no mention of the police investigation by the auctioneer, Ólafur stated.
“I can assert that they have managed, along with those responsible for the forgeries themselves, to ruin Svavar Guðnason’s name in the international art market,” Ólafur lamented. He has not decided whether to report the case to the police.
You can compare an original and a forgery of Svavar’s work here.
Svavar Guðnason (1909-1988) was among Iceland’s best known 20th century painters. He worked in Denmark for years and was active in a group of artists called COBRA. Many of his works are on display in Denmark’s major art museums, as well as in numerous private museums in Europe.