Fake & Fortune: Painting forgery in the Indonesian art market

Most people I meet in the Indonesian art world are all too familiar with the issue of fake paintings circulating in the marketplace. When I introduce my research on painting authenticity and art attribution in Indonesia, I am often met with a knowing nod, an anecdote recalling an encounter with a fake artwork, or the latest rumour concerning a potentially dubious painting in a major collection or auction house. These reactions speak to the complexity of art fraud as an issue that is entangled with art world politics, criminal activity, and influential figures in a relatively small art market. Due to the contentious nature of the fake painting trade, information is circulated with discretion through the grapevine, on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram, or occasionally covered by national media outlets Tempo or the Jakarta Post. The juiciest stories are shared behind closed doors, one-on-one and off the record.

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