Sculpture 'Knock-Offs' Forged In Steal : Forgeries Corrupting Art World


An epidemic of sculpture knock-offs is plaguing the art world, and law enforcement is having a knock-down-drag-out skirmish with thieves.
Statues, wildlife figures and, in one case, a copy of Jasper Johns' 1960 metallic collage "Flag," are turning up for sale in stores, garden centers and other outlets without the approval of the artists who created them. Sometimes they're going for top-end prices.

American sculptors say they are losing income and spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses trying to track down and stop the knock-offs. With little success.

Some of the knock-offs come from foundries in Asia, while advances in digital scanning and photography are making copycat sculptures easier to crate.

No one knows the scale of trade of the fakes, police say. Interpol says $6 billion in annual art crimes around the world -- are mostly fakes. The real culprits, according to wildlife sculptor Mark Hopkins, are foundries in China and Thailand that produce knock-offs and that appear to be outside the reach of the law.