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Alberto Giacometti

Police investigation finds Diego Giacometti's foundry grossed £14 million from unauthorised bronzes cast after his death

The "posthumous" sculptures passed through the hands several leading auction houses in Paris

While tapping the telephone of a body building centre where drug-dealing was suspected, the Besançon police have uncovered one of the biggest French art frauds. Conversations were overheard which mentioned the production and sale of certain bronzes which the police traced back to the foundry in Port-sur-Saône where Diego Giacometti’s sculptures had been produced. It seems that after the artist’s death in 1985, the foundry continued to produce casts after his models. Unlike his brother, Alberto, Diego did not number his pieces, as he considered them to be craft, not art. According to the French daily Libération, the “posthumous” Giacomettis produced since 1985 were sold at auction in Paris, above all by the firm Hervé Chayette & Laurence Calmels, but by Sotheby’s and Christie’s as well. The bronzes were also dealt in by Jacques de Vos and Angelo Pittiglio, who run a gallery in the Louvre des Antiquaires. Enquiries are still going on, but the police already have a statement by a Parisian chaser in which he admits to having worked up around ninety bronzes since 1986 from the Port-sur-Saône foundry, among which various examples of the well known “Chat maitre d’hotel” and “Autruche”, both worth about £10,000 ($16,500). The entire operation is said to have netted the respectable sum of £14 million ($23.1 million).

First appeared in The Art Newspaper as '£14 million for “posthumous” sculptures by Diego Giacometti'