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J.M.W. Turner

Fakes of stolen Tate Turners surface

Frankfurt thefts still not recovered

On 17 January the Tate Gallery discovered that the two Turners circulating in the underworld were fakes and not their pictures, stolen from an exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt in 1994. According to the director of the Schirn, Hellmut Seeman, the pictures had been offered to a private detective in Antwerp by two Germans. Unless the authentic pictures now turn up, it means that the Tate has lost its gamble in the deal struck last year with its insurers. Instead of claiming the entire insurance pay out of £24 million, the museum had decided to buy back legal title to the pictures for £8 million, in the belief that they would surface. Its monetary loss is reduced, however, by the fact that the £24 million had grown to £31 million while the Tate was waiting to see if the pictures turned up, so the pay out was still £23 million.