Thousands of painted copies have been pouring onto the art market from Hong Kong during the past five years causing serious concern among honest dealers.
Hong Kong artists are probably among the best and the cheapest to produce excellent copies of marine, landscape or still-life pictures from all schools. Working fast with great talent, they have set up a formidable copying industry which is now posing a threat to the market of genuine paintings.
A good copy of an 18th century still-life of flowers would cost a mere 150 dollars to any at dealer coming to Hong Kong.
In France, Germany, Britain or the States such copy would find a buyer between 700 and 1400 dollars, at least ten times less than for an original picture.
Hong Kong copies are also well in demand from people who wish to keep their valuables safe from robbers. As they are enough decorative to hang on the walls of their apartments. Moreover, those who visit their places must have an expert eye to avoid being tricked by these copies.
In fact, many copies of Impressionist pictures as well as paintings from many important schools have been made to satisfy increasing demands from collectors eager to protect their valuables. But on the other hand, unscrupulous dealers have not hesitated to fill the so thin gap between copies and fakes.
It all started before 1990, with the fall of the Iron Curtain, when thousands of paintings from the ex-Soviet Union were exported to the West. Such invasion has proved a success with paintings being sold at prices ranging from US $ 200 to 20,000 dollars for the best artists. Several dealers carried out massive sales and earned a lot with these paintings while a small bunch of dishonest professionals came to the conclusion that they would make more money by getting copies of the best works they were selling. Oddly enough there are now on the market fake Russian or Lithuanian paintings originating from Hong Kong and also from Taiwan or Thaïland.
The situation now seems out of control since copies are no longer made or bought for decorative purposes especially as certain galleries in Europe and the States, are exhibiting such worthless paintings alongside genuine pictures in their showrooms.
Most incredible is the attitude of the owner of some 15 galleries in France who has taken control of a monthly art magazine in which he has published violent attacks against those who have invaded the market with pictures from Eastern Europe and Asia. Strangely enough he has forgotten to lash out at himself since as a dealer he has poured thousands of copies on the French market. Without any strong action aimed at regulating the flow of copies throughout the world the market will soon be in danger of collapse. (Long live Marcel !!!)