When is art forgery not a crime? When the forger is a philanthropist

Mark Landis’s story shows that if you are a philanthropist, you are not really committing a crime by forging art. Landis forged art by numerous artists from Picasso to Walk Disney for 30 years and donated them to various museums. It only took him a few hours to forge one piece. Matthew Leininger, the registrar at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, was the first person to catch on to Landis’s forgery. He said that the evolution of the internet made it easier to track forgeries and this led him to find multiple copies of the same art by Landis in various museums. Leininger stated, “Mark Landis may be the most infamous and prolific art forger who has never committed a crime.” When Landis was interviewed later for a documentary focused on his forgeries, he was very forthcoming. He said that if the museums found out, they preferred to keep it quiet and would send him a stiff letter informing him that his donation was being taken out of the collection. That was the worst it could get. After reading this story, I feel confused myself. Should I consider this a crime, or not? How can it not be a crime just because he donated his work and not sell it? Shouldn’t it still be considered crime since he forged/plagiarized someone else’s work without giving them credit? What do you think? Source: http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-09-11/when-art-forgery-not-crime-when-forger-philanthropist

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