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Fakes have been a permanent obstacle for work, after his death, on the developement of Figari’s production. Even if the most noticeable damage has been on the commercial aspect, everything concerned has suffered. One clear example: a museum owns a fake donated in good faith by one of Figari’s daughters, for she herself had been the victim of deceit.
The continuous circulation of fake Figari paintings all over, almost literally, the world, is one of the main reasons of the importance of the progress of the archive I’m busy on. And it’s no exaggeration to say “world”, when I remember specific cases in London, Paris, Madrid, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires…
Any person with some training has a right to give an opinion about the authenticity of a painting. As for myself, I believe I have the right for my opinion to be considered, even if I still claim two other rights: to make a mistake, and to have doubts. Authenticity is often a subject for discussion, but also often, enough clues allow definite judgements.
One field is still to be developed: the cientific one. It might be argued against, but I believe that the notorious absentees are the official organisms, whether state or city halls. I imagine that their standing budgets include an infrastructure, technicians and instruments, that can cover what’s still missing.
More precisely, I once learned that Japan had donated to Uruguay, government to government, an equipment specifically with that aim, and that it has never been used. As much time as might have gone by, I don’t think it can’t still be useful.
Besides, if any investigation needs an extra expense, not covered by budgets, I am sure that the parties with an interest would cover it, or provide whatever necessary material. Recalling cases I’ve known about, Justice would be able to make big economies, saving time and adding rigour.
A recent anecdote: a few years ago I took a small oil on cardboard signed “J.C. Figari Castro” to a restorer’s shop. The store closed in a well published case, and weighing the possible value of the picture and the eventual complications, I gave it up. A few weeks ago, an unidentified person left the picture for a fews days at a gallery, it was shown to me and I took its photo. I could then find, previously misplaced, a contact print of a photo of the picture that had been mine, and I checked that the signature had been erased or covered, the picture restored, and P.F., as Figari sometimes signed, added. Frequently, Figari’s signature is added to paintings by his son Juan Carlos, or at least classified as such by Carlos Herrera Mac Lean, and I’ve seen it happen in San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Herrera Mac Lean could have made a mistake some time, but he would have never ascribed to Juan Carlos a painting signed by Pedro, which makes it evident that the signature has been added deceitfully.
Fernando Saavedra Faget.