A dumb and bad imitation van Gogh painting that was so fake it made people throw-up all over themselves and their nice clothes just to look at it has left the world breathless in awe over its poignant beauty as it has just been revealed, on second thought, to be a real van Gogh.
The painting, an 1888 landscape now called "Sunset at Montmajour," was authenticated by the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam at the culmination of two years of research. It had come before the museum once before, in 1991, but, at the time, museum experts determined it was a fake. When not serving as the world's largest repository of Vincent van Gogh artworks, the van Gogh Museum functions as a Magic-8 ball. Its hours are 9 a.m. to Reply Hazy, Ask Again Later.
Despite refusing to authenticate the painting two decades earlier, museum officials asked to re-examine the work in 2011. This time when they looked at it, they realized, whoopsie, it's real. Chemical analysis of the pigments showed they were identical to ones found in other van Gogh paintings produced during the artist's prolific stay in the French city of Arles. It was numbered on the back, and catalogued with his brother Theo's collection. Van Gogh also mentioned or described the painting explicitly in multiple letters to his brother. ("It was romantic, it couldn’t be more so, à la Monticelli, the sun was pouring its very yellow rays over the bushes and the ground, absolutely a shower of gold. And all the lines were beautiful; the whole scene had charming nobility," wrote van Gogh, after painting exactly that.) He pretty much did everything he could to show he painted this painting without abandoning the landscape altogether and simply drawing a picture of the words "I, VINCENT VAN GOGH, PAINTED THIS PAINTING" in bubble letters.
Except sign it. He didn't sign it. Possibly because he was displeased with the final result (Who wouldn't be? It looks like a fake van Gogh); probably because he just didn't sign most things.
The painting remained in his brother's collection until 1901, when it was sold to an art dealer, which is where the mystery begins.
In 1908, the van Gogh was purchased by a Norwegian industrialist named Christian Mustad. Shortly thereafter, a French ambassador to Sweden and RUDE-LAND WHERE PEOPLE SAY WHATEVER THEY WANT AND HURT FEELINGS WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE told the Mustad that his van Gogh was a fake. Deeply embarrassed, Mustad banished the painting to his attic where it passed the next six decades surrounded by musty Christmas decorations, paperbacks that smelled like yard sales, and the ghosts of people who had died in the attic. In 1970, following his death, the painting was bought by some IDIOT who couldn't buy a real fake van Gogh if he tried. The museum declined to release the name of the buyer or state whether it had been resold since then.
The painting will go on public display at the museum for one year beginning September 24th. The museum did not provide an estimate of its value, so pick any double digit number, add six zeroes after the end, and that can be your estimate.
[Image via AP]