£100,000 'fake' painting to be burned, owner rues 'draconian' decision

  • AFP, London
  • Updated: Feb 02, 2014 19:08 IST

A British businessman has been told that a painting for which he paid 100,000 pounds will be burned under French law after it was ruled a fake.

Martin Lang bought what he thought was an original work by Russian-born artist Marc Chagall in 1992.

His son called in experts from BBC One's Fake Or Fortune? to examine it, and the painting underwent tests to determine whether it was genuine.

It was sent to the Chagall Committee in Paris, who said it was fake and would be burned under French law.

Born in Belarus in 1887, Chagall, who died in France in 1985, is regarded as a pioneer of modernism.

His work can sell for millions of pounds.

The Chagall Committee is run by the artist's grandchildren to protect his reputation in the art world.

Lang, 63, a property developer from Leeds, has asked the committee to mark the watercolour - a nude said to date from 1909-10 - as a forgery and then return it or give him a guarantee he will be reimbursed if it is later ruled as genuine.

He is still waiting for a reply, the BBC reported.

"I had no idea that anyone would take such a draconian view," he said.

"They say they want to counter forgery but I think this will have the opposite effect of deterring honest people like myself from coming forward."

Fake Or Fortune? host Fiona Bruce said: "A decision like this forces the owner of any painting to play a kind of Russian roulette with their precious artwork.

"The only way for Martin to authenticate his painting was with the Chagall Committee, he had no other choice.

"But it was never made clear to him that if they didn't like the look of his painting that they would burn it.

"How can anyone ever approach this committee with a painting again if this is how they react,?" Bruce said.

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