The World’s Most Beautiful Eggs: The Genius of Carl Faberge TV - Zahi Hawass - Francis Bacon - Ralph Waldo Emerson - The Man Who Forged America TV - News report TV - Robert Stott - Stray Mutt - Jonathan Gash - Carved With Love: The Genius of British Woodwork TV - Jesus Code: The Secrete Brother of Jesus TV - Isis: Antiques for Arms TV - Gaolbreak 1957 - Faberge: A Life of Its Own TV - The Artful Codgers TV -
In April 2004 it was listed for auction by Sotherby’s in New York. The upper estimate was an astonishing $24 million … Part of a collection of nine imperial Easter eggs amassed over the previous forty years by the Forbes Foundation in New York. But that sale never took place. The World’s Most Beautiful Eggs: The Genius of Carl Fabergé, BBC 2013
Fabergé made just fifty of these unique pieces. ibid.
The black market for selling antiquities was very bad. Egypt was raped. We call it the Rape of the Nile. They raped the Nile. They took this heritage out of the country. And it’s now everywhere. Dr Zahi Hawass
Antiquities are history defaced, or some remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time. Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, The Advancement of Learning
Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old, but of the natural. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Antique documents worth millions. Techniques that fooled America’s greatest experts. A master-plan so profound it takes years to unfold. And a brilliant mind [Mark Hofmann] driven to the absolute edge. The Man Who Forged America, BBC 2003
Salt Lake City Utah 1980: home of the Mormon Church. The setting for a discovery that sent shock waves around America. Mark Hofmann, a first year medical student, has brought an old Bible. Stuck between its pages is a mysterious document ... The long-lost Anthon transcript. ibid.
Hofmann sells his amazing find to the Mormon Church for $20,000. ibid.
Hofmann makes another incredibly find. He unearths three Joseph Smith letters that he sells for $95,000. The money pours in. ibid.
Over the next year Hofmann makes more apparent discoveries including documents of national importance from the hand of Daniel Boone, Abe Lincoln, George Washington and Jack London. His fame spreads. The Mormon Church believes he is touched by God. ibid.
The world’s most astounding series of forgeries. ibid.
Over six hundred extraordinary forgeries. ibid.
He creates the Salamander letter, the first in a series of controversial documents that threatens the very foundation of the Mormon Church. ibid.
Hofmann now travels east ... He creates an entirely new persona for himself. ibid.
Hofmann poses as an innocent history buff. ibid.
The Oath of a Freeman ... His asking price $1.5 million. He has reached the pinnacle of the forger’s art. ibid.
And it isn’t long before some of his disgruntled investors get ugly. ibid.
Hofmann targets [Mac] Christensen because he was about to expose Hofmann’s financial dealings. ibid.
As investigators circle closer to Hofmann as their killer the case throws a cloud of doubt over the Church’s documents and others Hofmann has sold from coast to coast. News report cited ibid.
His [Mark Hofmann] great desire in life was to fool the experts. Robert Stott, prosecutor
Mark Hofmann was a forger and shrewd observer of human behavior. Like any good con-man, he knew part of his success manufacturing and selling fake historical documents depended on willing victims – people who wanted to believe his claims.
Growing up Mormon, Hofmann realized he was surrounded by credulous people who were trained to trust those who presented themselves as authorities ...
From his years of poking around old documents and studying church history, Hofmann knew there were skeletons in the Mormon closet. Authentic LDS history is far murkier than the official version. He also knew the church was interested in acquiring potentially embarrassing documents so they could suppress them ...
So Hofmann concocted the ‘Salamander letter’, an account of Joseph Smith encountering a talking salamander that turned into an angel. The forgery neatly connected the Smith family’s occult practices with the origins of Mormonism ...
How is it that church leaders could meet several times with Mark Hofmann and never discern the dark spirit inside him? How could they not recognize the devil within their midst? And how many times before had they failed at similar challenges? How many more times would they fail? ...
What about the church’s document experts? Well, they turned out not to be so expert.
Before Hofmann started blowing up people, the church trumpeted the Salamander letter as a marvelous, wonderful new find while carefully spinning its content. After law enforcement forgery experts declared the Salamander letter a fake, however, the brethren had to spin their way back out without making it look like they had been duped and swindled. Furthermore, they resisted cooperating with the investigation out of fear their ineptitude would be further exposed.
The Hofmann case was a shameful moment of ecclesiastical bungling. I don’t imagine it’s an isolated case. The brethren work pretty much in secret, with no checks and balances, answering to no one, except each other and the still, small voices they hear in their heads. Stray Mutt, RFM board post, ‘For Newbies and Lurking TBMs – A Review of the Hofmann Case’
Forgery, being the weirdest form of creativity there is, like antiques, costs lives. Why is it that antiques demand sacrificial victims? Dunno, but if they don’t get enough, forgery does. You want proof? Here it is: Once a faker’s found out, he dies. Truly. It always happens. Jonathan Gash, Jade Woman
The risks in antiques fraud are relative. Other criminals risk the absolute. You’ve never heard of a fraudster involved in a shoot-out, of the ‘Come and get me, copper!’ sort. Or of some con artist needing helicopter gunships to bring him. No, we subtle-mongers do it with the smile, the promise, the hint. And we have one great ally: greed. And make no mistake. Greed is everywhere, like weather. Jonathan Gash, The Great California Game
In the golden age of British furniture – the 18th century – one man defined the age in wood. He stood for luxury, elegance, the finest furniture ever to come from these isles. His name – Thomas Chippendale. Carved With Love: The Genius of British Woodwork I: The Extraordinary Thomas Chippendale, BBC 2013
Chippendale was betrayed by the very men he tried so hard to please. ibid.
There was a new wood on the block – Mahogany. ibid.
He came to be known as the High Priest of Mahogany. ibid.
The first ever furniture catalogue – The Gentlemen and Cabinet Maker’s Director. ibid.
A leader of furniture design in London. ibid.
Robert Adam: a fresh style which came to be known as neo-classicism. ibid.
An ancient burial box inscribed with the named James: Son of Joseph Brother of Jesus … Who was his brother James? From doubter to leader – but why has James been lost to history? Jesus Code: The Secret Brother of Jesus, Discovery 2016
Oded Golan is found guilty on two charges relating to the trade in antiquities; but when it comes to the charges of forgery he is found not guilty. ibid.
Five years in there is limited media coverage. And now there are reports of looted antiquities from the region are ending up for sale here in London. Isis: Antiques for Arms, National Geographic 2016
Islamic State has been systematically looting Syria and Iraq for profit. ibid.
‘They took Palmyra, they kicked out the residents, they destroyed the monuments. They killed all the archaeologists.’ ibid. undercover agent
This black market in looted antiquities is larger, more complex, more insidious than I’ve ever imagined. ibid.