His story has been told in books, a BBC television series and has inspired an upcoming film. Art forger John Myatt’s notorious ‘genuine fakes’ gained worldwide attention and earned him a new start as respected and internationally collected artist. As star of Westover Gallery’s latest special collection, with all limited edition prints at an exciting low price, we thought we’d take a look at the life and career of celebrated artist and art forger John Myatt.
Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh and Renoir were so close to the real thing that museums and collectors were fooled for decades. Around 200 of his fakes passed as genuine, with 120 allegedly ‘missing’ and potentially still in circulation.
Studying at art school in Stafford in 1962, he received technical instruction which, when combined with an incredible eye for detail, would pave the way for a most unexpected career. After struggling on a teacher’s wage he placed an advert offering genuine “19th and 20th century fakes for £200” in Private Eye magazine. This caught the attention of John Drewe, who soon became his co-conspirator. After buying a fake Albert Gleizes painting from Myatt for £150, their lives would be changed forever.‘I was worried all the time about feeding my children, so when Drewe came back to me and said, “I’ve just sold it to Christie’s for £25,000 – here’s £12,500,” it was the answer to so many problems,’ said John Myatt in an interview with The Independent. Drewe commissioned John to create forgeries between 1986 and 1994, before the pair were finally caught. Arrested in 1995 and convicted in 1999 Myatt served 12 months in Brixton prison.
When Myatt was released the genuine interest in his work began. He was commissioned to paint a family portrait by the officer that arrested him, and the barristers who ran the case against him requested he paint them a memento. Calls flooded in from TV and the wider media. But Myatt seems far from proud of the circumstances of his fame. “Now I find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that, were it not for having been part of this crime, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today.”
John Myatt’s career wouldn’t have happened without a profound love for the artists he’d imitate. John has said that to forge an artist’s work “you need to love them” And the love is apparent in the detail and technique he’s honed over his career. Now his masterpieces in the style of Raoul Dufy, Monet and Matisse can be enjoyed for the original artist's narrative as well as Myatt’s own. Here at Westover Gallery we're thrilled to be able to bring rare, original paintings by art forger John Myatt to the gallery for the very first time, for a whole new audience.See the enitere Special Offer John Myatt Collection here