Made You Look Review – An Engaging Story Deconstructing An Art World Fraud

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Made You Look A True Story About Fake Art, from Netflix, presents a suspenseful and compelling crime thriller, set against the restricted world of Manhattan society, international wealth, affluence, and the magnetism of the exclusive art world.

The documentary begins with the introduction of one of New York's most storied art galleries, the M. Knoedler, which we understand, at more than a century old had survived the Civil War, two World Wars, economic downturns, and the rise and fall of the Art market. It was well-known, established, and trusted. It's director, Ann Freedman, also established, well-known and trusted.


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Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art is a crime documentary deconstructing the largest art fraud in American history. We hear from those at the center and those who became victims and are dropped into the world of the super-rich, super obsessed and superfast art world of New York. To pull a con like this the players would need to convince a storied purveyor of the authenticity of the work.

Suddenly on the art scene, a couple who present a collection of art from the master's of the 20th century, Jackson Pollack, William de Kooning, Mark Rothko, to the prestigious M. Knoedler Gallery, owned by Michael Hammer. The hypnotizing allure of these paintings and the belief of their authenticity equated to power, affluence, and entry.


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For Art dealer, Ann Freedman who spent thirty-two years as the director of the gallery, they solidified her position and prominence in this world where this rare opportunity can be synonymous to a lifestyle. Essentially, she was the art world's "it" girl.

As we see in the documentary, the authenticity process is more than a simple attesting of ownership and authorship. The painting is presented to scholars of the artist, who have spent a lifetime dedicated to the study of a single artist.

Once the authenticity of provenance can be established which is a four-fold process examining the actual painting to determine if earmarks such as the pant used matched the elements or compounds of the paint created during the life of the artist; does the canvas match the time frame, and as the process continues nuances of the artist would then come into question. When this process is completed which is usually understood to be above reproach, the painting is added to the catalogue for sale.


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Once the gallery received verification of authenticity, which as we see eventually became debated, they then began to sell the art to collectors and the art world elite.

For thirteen years, this couple from Long Island, funneled these fake works through the Ann Freedman and the M. Knoedler Gallery. Like most cons, the high of conning the elite became the fuel for its continuance.

Slowly, as art collectors were paying upwards of $2millon and even as high as $17million for the works independent authenticators were brought and the foundation began to erode.

Throughout the documentary we hear from New York Times Reporters explaining their take and coverage, former United States Attorney for the Southern District Jason Hernandez who handled the prosecution of the case, and Domenico and Eleanore De Sole, who were defrauded.


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Made You Look A True Story About Fake Art is truly an unfortunate but genuinely entertaining and suspenseful tale of an $80 million ingenious con that everyone wanted to believe was real.

At the end of the documentary, a New York Times reporter, Patricia Cohen, offers an ominous overview of the possibility that, while this con sent shock waves through the international art world, how many more are going on every day?

Made You Look A True Story of Fake Art, an engaging and intriguing story on the art of the con, premieres on Netflix February 23, 2021. See it.

 

Country: USA.

Language: English, Spanish.

Run Time: 89 minutes.

Director: Barry Avrich.

Screenplay: Barry Avrich.

Producer: Barry Avrich, Caitlin Cheddie

Cast: Ann Freedman, Carter Ratcliff, Charles Schmerler, Patricia Cohen, Michael Shnayerson, Eleanore De Sole, Ronald Spencer, Dr. Jeffrey Taylor, Thiago Piwowarczyk, M.H. Miller, Luke Nikas, Stan Brand, Dr. Jack Flam, Dr. Sharon Flescher, David Anfam, (Archive), Jason Hernandez, Domenico De Sole, Emily Reisbaum, Marjorie Cohn, Maria Konnikova, Perry Amsellem, José Carlos Bergantiños Díaz, Pei-Shen Qian, Hongtu Zhang, Sanchez Goni.

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