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Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art

Streaming on Netflix / Art / Film & TV

The subtitle of this movie doesn’t tell the whole story. Yes, it’s about fake art, specifically what is now believed to be the greatest art con in U.S. history—an $80 million forgery scandal which coincidentally took place at New York’s oldest gallery, the now-closed Knoedler. And yes, it’s a true story, a documentary by Barry Avrich that comes just two years after the last Knoedler case, regarding a forged Rothko, settled in 2019. But in evoking the complicated web of money and the he-said-she-said counterpoint that is today’s art world, it presents what seems like countless truths. Over ten years, a forger named Pei-Shen Qian copied more than 60 paintings by Rothko, Pollock, Motherwell, and others, yet says he never thought they’d be sold as originals. Knoedler’s head dealer, Ann Freedman, hid documents doubting the paintings’ authenticity, brushed over their murky provenance, and sold them, she insists, never realizing they were fakes. Freedman, who got off scot-free and now runs a gallery in New York, still claims she’s innocent. Eighty million dollars say otherwise. Made You Look spotlights the art world’s greatest interest—not the beauty of the works, but whether they are what they say they are. —J.V.

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