Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art premiered on 23rd February 2021 on Netflix. Directed by Barry Avrich, the documentary revolves around one of the biggest art scandal’s in history which led to the closing of 165 years old Knoedler gallery.
They Fooled Them All
There are various things that lose their value over time but art is never one of them. Throughout the ages, art has been one of the major collectables and valued items across the globe. With each saved and secured painting selling for billions of dollars, what would you do if you were sold a fake? The Knoedler Art Scandal shook the art world and brought down the famous New York’s Knoedler & Co., one of the country’s oldest and prestigious art galleries.
Made You Look tells us the story of this art scandal with inputs, opinions, and firsthand experiences of lawyers, buyers, experts, and others alongside Ann Freedman, who was the art dealer at the very centre of this entire acquisition and selling. The documentary brings detailed accounts and details of the scandal to the public eye with every piece of information stitched with testimonies and documents. Between 1994 and 2011, under Freedman’s direction, Knoedler had sold faked copies of works by Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko majorly, among others.
Which brings us to the question of how could a fraud on such a level continue for more than 10 years and most importantly who fooled the keen-eyed Freedman? The person responsible here is Glafira Rosales, a Long Island art dealer who had, in turn, obtained the fake paintings from the art forger Pei-Shen Qian from China, in which a major role is played by her ex-boyfriend José Carlos Bergantiños Diaz (who by the end of the documentary tries to sell something to the director claiming it’s real, dude, stop!)
“It was credible, to me. I believed what I was told. There was mystery, but there’s often mystery in provenance. I hoped to solve that mystery as time went on.” – Ann Freedman
There were red flags everywhere which somehow Freedman denied seeing like the ever-changing story of Rosales, incorrect name on the painting, scientific and technical evidence, lack of provenance, and more. And while Freedman was ruled as not guilty and it could have been a human error, it is impossible to believe that she was so stringent on the fact that the paintings are real that she ignored every call for authenticity. However, Freedman has always denied playing any part in the fraud.
Made You Look builds itself in an intriguing manner and supports the claim with proof leaving no place for misleading imagination to play. The documentary does not aim to provide an answer for whodunnit but rather provides audiences with facts and figures to understand the entire scandal and dive deeper into it if they wish. The very idea that no one other than Ann was actually ready to accept that were duped is pretty weird to me. It’s not a sin but rather a human error.
The documentary also provides Freedman with a place to voice out her side of the story and the truth as she could not even testify in court (the lawsuit was settled before she could testify). The lawsuit against her, Hammer, and Knoedler was filed by collector Domenico De Sole in early 2016 for a fake Rothko sold by Freedman. Without any preconceived notions about the entire fraud, Avrich brings forth the entire story of the scandal with brilliance and without bias with thorough research.
Stream It or Skip It
STREAM IT! Made You Look is informative, thought-provoking, and a smartly brought forward documentary that carries the potential to question the entire scandal without blindly and blatantly blaming any single person. The documentary has no dull moments and is well mapped with sections that build-up to the finale i.e., the truth of being conned.
Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art is now streaming on Netflix.
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