A fake Gauguin spotted by The Art Newspaper was “cobbled together” in a shed in Bolton, Greater Manchester, by Shaun Greenhalgh, who has just published his memoirs (A Forger’s Tale: Confessions of the Bolton Forger, Allen & Unwin). The notorious faker describes his effort as “the worst piece of sculpture I have made as an adult”. Using a mixture of clay, earth dug up in the nearby Jumbles Country Park and cigarette ash (in an attempt to get the right surface texture), he fired the sculpture of a faun in three pieces before crudely glueing them together with Araldite.
The forger Shaun Greenhalgh describes this fake Gauguin, bought by the Art Institute of Chicago, as his “worst piece”. Photo: © Car Los
Greenhalgh took the piece to “a well-known London auction house” (Sotheby’s), where it fetched £20,700 in 1994, and the faun was later bought by the Art Institute of Chicago for £180,000. In 2007, after the forger’s arrest, Scotland Yard stated that the fake Gauguin’s “current whereabouts are unknown”. We then suggested that its detectives might contact the Chicago museum. What happened next? The faun was immediately taken off display and remains shrouded in mystery.