This forgery of Andrew Wyeth’s painting Wreck on Doughnut Point has come onto the market several times, even after Wyeth himself declared it to be a forgery. Although it was an attempt at an exact copy of the original, several differences were identified by Mary Landa, the Andrew and Betsy Wyeth Collection Manager―the most obvious being a general awkwardness inconsistent with Wyeth’s more relaxed, adept style of watercolor.
Wreck on Doughnut Point
Watercolor in the style of Andrew Wyeth
Courtesy of David Hall
Authentication and Confiscation
This painting reappeared on the market yet again shortly after Andrew Wyeth’s death, in 2009. Unless an artist has an accepted catalogue raisonné (a complete list of works compiled by art historians or by an artist’s own foundation) or a group of experts tasked with authenticating the work of an artist, it is relatively easy for forgeries to remain undetected. Today many experts hesitate to give opinions on authenticity because some have been sued by owners whose expensive art has been devalued. The value of works by prolific artists like Wyeth generally increases after their death, which can spur a wave of forgeries since the artist is no longer able to dispute their authenticity. Unless confiscated, fakes like these continue to circulate in the art market. One forgery can have many victims. The intention of the various owners who sold and resold this watercolor purported to be by Andrew Wyeth is unknown, but at least some of them had to know it was fake.
Unknown photographer; ca. 1935
Courtesy of the Wyeth Family Archives
U.S. Attorney’s Office. “FBI Recovers Fraudulent Andrew Wyeth Watercolor Painting Wreck on Doughnut Point.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, October 1, 2009. https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/baltimore/press-releases/2009/ba100109a.htm