By Adrian Darmon
According to Gary Arseneau, a lithographer and art dealer in Fernandina Beach, Florida, half of the 120 works from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation attributed to Auguste Rodin are simply fakes.
Rodin was France's great sculptors at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Century and has been much prized in the U.S before and after his death, which occurred in 1917.
Gary Arseneau has stressed that many Rodin works sold in the U.S were posthumous casts, which in his mind should be considered as fakes. Arseneau's argument is laid out in great details in his self-published 333-page book titled «Deception».
The posthumous Rodin works were cast and issued by the Musée Rodin, the Parisian museum in charge of Rodin's legacy. The museum has always referred to these posthumous works as «original editions» and similar casts belong to the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Los Angeles.
The main question is to determine whether the Rodin Museum has the right to sell posthumous casts of works by Rodin as «original» bronze sculptures. In his will Rodin authorized the French government to reproduce his sculptures from original plasters after his death and the State granted that right to the Musée Rodin. Still, according to many American museum curators, in issuing these posthumous Rodin bronze works, the French museum has been simply carrying out Rodin's wishes. Arseneau has been arguing that, by identifying these posthumous bronzes as «original editions» and forging Rodin's signature on them, the Musée Rodin has been violating the terms of the artist's will.
Furthermore, he has been claiming that several of the sculptures in the Iris
B. Gerald Cantor collection were not cast from Rodin's original plasters, that the editions are not limited, though they are promoted as such, and that the nondisclosure of these bronzes as reproduction violates several U.S and French laws.