Finnish gallery owners gave the works of self-taught artists for paintings by Matisse and Kandinsky


Fraudsters were sentenced to prison terms and fines of $14.7 million.

Circus by Henri Léger

In Finland, a couple of gallery owners were sentenced in prison and a fine of $14.7 million on fraud charges. Kati Marjatta Karkkiainen, 46, and Reijo Pollari, 75, have been selling self-taught painters for several years, presenting them as works by Henri Matisse, Fernand Leger, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Wassily Kandinsky, and also paintings by Russian artists of the 19th century and Finns Helena Scherfbek and Albert Edelfeldt.

Investigators handed over 220 paintings to critics from the Finnish National Gallery. Most of them were forged by the same person, the artist Veli Sepp, who lives in southern Finland. He received a suspended sentence. Karkkiainen was sentenced to four years in prison, her husband to five years. The couple was found guilty in 30 episodes of fraud.

According to AFP, the most expensive fake was the painting “Circus” by Leger. The couple managed to sell it for 2.2 million euros. “The theme of the canvas itself was typical of Leger, who is considered the progenitor of pop art. However, the approach to work was incredibly weak, and the style of drawing was childish,” the court decision says. Seppa said that he studied the paintings of Leger from catalogs, which he took in the library. For greater accuracy, the self-taught artist acquired the canvas of the 50s.

Most of the works from the gallery Karkkiainen and Pollari confiscated, but several fake paintings, according to police, may still be in other art dealers possession.

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