Brooklyn Museum Legally Forced to Store Fake Art

Museum hoping court will free it from deal forcing it to hole 229 forgeries

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 7, 2013 2:22 PM CST | Updated Jan 12, 2013 1:14 PM CST

(Newser) – The Brooklyn Museum is desperately trying to extricate itself from a strange legal predicament that is currently forcing it to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars storing forgeries and replicas. The museum unwittingly walked into the trap back in 1931, when collector Michael Friedsam bequeathed it his 926-piece collection of paintings, antique jewelry and furniture, and Roman and Qing Dynasty pottery, on the condition that the museum could not sell or otherwise offload the works without permission from his executor, DNAInfo explains.

The problem? Improved modern authentication techniques have now identified 229 of the pieces as fakes, but the last executor of Friedsam's estate died 50 years ago. In 2010, the museum asked a Manhattan Surrogate Court to let it dump the works, but a judge ruled that the museum will first have to track down the descendants of three other people named in Friedsam's will. In the meantime, the museum is stuck storing the works, it told the court would cost $403,000, plus $286,000 a year.

The Brooklyn Museum is shown on Jan. 8, 2007 in New York.
The Brooklyn Museum is shown on Jan. 8, 2007 in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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