Forger hit area art museums
BATON ROUGE - A man who's been forging paintings and donating them to museums for decades, including in our area, has been exposed and is now the focus of a documentary.
For the past 30 years, Mark Landis has painted replicas of famous paintings, and donated them to museums across the country. Most recently, he is being profiled in a movie "Art and Craft" showing this week at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
Some of the forgeries he's donated where to univeristy museums in Lafayette and Baton Rouge. The makers of the documentary call Landis a diagnosed schizophrenic.
Fran Huber, Assistant Director for Collections at the LSU Museum of Art says she first met Landis in 2001.
"He said he had a large collection of art works that he was looking a home for after he died," said Huber. "He was visiting various university museums to see which one would fit his needs."
Landis left behind a five pieces of art that day, which he called "19th century watercolors by unknown artists." He said he would return with more, but never did.
"I actually did an obituary search at one point, two years after that, and I didn't find anything," said Huber.
But, he resurfaced in 2009, saying he had a painting by French-painter Jean-Antoine Watteau. The piece, 'A Woman Lying on a Chaise Longue,' would have grabbed any curators attention if it were real, but Huber says they quickly found out it wasn't.
For decades, Landis has tricked people, donating his own forgeries and passing them off as originals.
"He draws in the style of a lot of different artists," said Huber. "He works with auction catalogs and he copies them."
Landis has been investigated by the FBI but cannot be prosecuted no money has exchanged hands. His trickery has many museums and art-enthusiasts checking their collections twice.
The LSU Museum of Art says they plan to hold onto the six pieces Landis donated for future study.