A tale of two paintings: Days after a $45,000 piece was sold at Christie's, the celebratory mood ended abruptly.
It could have been another uncontested victory for Vietnamese art.
The day was May 28, 2017. An auction at Christie’s Hong Kong valued a piece named “Le Songe du Lendemain” (Dream of the Following Day) at over $45,000. It’s billed as a masterwork by the renowned 20th-century artist To Ngoc Van.
The event appeared to herald a new era for modern Vietnamese artworks in the international market. It seemed to be the time for cheers.
But only a week later, art scholars and painters quickly raised their concerns on local media, alleging that the painting in question could be a forgery of “The Young Beggar” by Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
Many were also angry that the piece had been tied to To Ngoc Van (1906-1954), a Vietnamese master.
Van, an early talent in oil painting, was among the brightest graduates of the Indochina College of Fine Arts in the 1930s. He was a recipient of the Ho Chi Minh Prize, a teacher at fine arts colleges in Hanoi and Phnom Penh.
But most importantly, he’s a pride of Vietnamese art.
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