Is It a Fake? Art Forgery Expert Dr. Anheuser Explains

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Is It a Fake Dr. Anhauser Explains Art ForgeriesHave you ever wondered about fake art and the authenticators who can tell the difference between real and fake?

In this article, world-renowned art authenticator Dr Kilian Anheuser of Geneva’s Fine Arts Expert Institute (FAEI) explains the problem of art fakes in the $60bn yearly art market, what types of paintings are more often forged or faked, the fate of paintings that cannot be authenticated, the ongoing duel between art faker and art authenticator, and the means and methods by which authenticators discover whether a painting is real or not.

Some of this information may surprise you–the questions are not as simple as they might at first seem.

Fakes are certainly a major problem for the art market today, but the real issues cannot be reduced to a simple question like “Is it a fake or not?”

Most paintings have undergone considerable changes during successive cleaning and conservation campaigns which are perfectly normal even for late 19th/early 20th century “modern” art, now already more than a hundred years old.

Is It a Fake Dr. Anhauser Explains Art Forgeries (4)Any earlier paintings, such as the old masters with extremely high market values, you will never ever find in their original state. Some of these, discovered in very poor condition, would effectively be re-painted by a skilled conservator on their original support, with just traces of the original paint layer remaining.

Should this be called a fake or an example of outstanding restoration?

Anyway, we feel a potential buyer ought to know what exactly he will get for his money.

With the old masters there is also the issue of historic copies–often of high quality and by skilled period artists–or multiple workshop copies. Pre-modern workshops were enterprises with apprentices and employees, not studios where an inspired artist worked on his own. Art historians know about these issues, many investors in art do not.

There are of course outright fakes.

We get to see many of them, and we are certainly more aware of the situation than many others. Money always attracts shady characters, and there is plenty of money in the art market. It is difficult to set a starting point. Ten years ago or twenty, whatever, but the trend is clear and will continue for as long as there is money to be made. At present, only a small minority of collectors, art dealers and investors protect themselves through a proper scientific expertise before a purchase. All too often in the past, and often enough still at present, a painting on which doubts have been cast will simply be sold on to someone unaware or willing to take a gamble. Otherwise, if the authenticity of a work of art is never questioned because for all parties concerned it is convenient not to know, the painting will retain its market value, be it fake or genuine. Such are the economics of the art market.

Money is the incentive for most art forgeries.

Is It a Fake Dr. Anhauser Explains Art ForgeriesOther motivations such as personal revenge are relatively rare. This means that for a forger or an unscrupulous restorer the ratio between effort and prospective gain must remain interesting. Old masters with their sophisticated painting techniques and historic materials difficult to obtain are relatively rarely outright fakes. In this sector you’d rather find concealed restorations to “improve” the looks of a painting, or to get a prestigious attribution accepted.

Modern art is more likely to be faked outright.

Yes, forgers do know about scientific techniques and historic working practices. Never underestimate your opponents. Most (exept for those who simply cannot be bothered as someone is always likely to buy their painting eyes shut because they cannot resist a tempting bargain) do try to avoid beginner’s mistakes as far as pigments are concerned, and they would also focus for example on lesser known artists who still sell for good money but where a potential buyer is less likely to demand a sound scientific expertise than for a premium painting.

A serious scientific authentification laboratory does not simply carry out isolated tests.
What we and also our colleagues in museum laboratories and elsewhere do is to look for inconsistencies between materials, techniques and known workshop practices. Even if physico-chemical analysis brings up no anachronistic elements as such, meaning that in principle all the materials and techniques were available and in use at the time in question, the painting techniques and materals may still not match what is known about a painter’s working habits, known from historic sources or other technological studies. To make the most of the analytical results, these cannot therefore be interpreted in isolation but must always be discussed in their historic and art historical context.

Herein lies the difference between a typical university scientist competent in the use of his analytical methods who may come up with a correct analytical result but will be unable to tell you more, and a specialized paintings authentication laboratory who will know the crucial questions to be asked, and who will be able to interpret the results to work out the answers.

These laboratories bring together different competences such as conservation scientists, technical art historians and conservators, each of whom is able to contribute complementing observations from their own specialty background. At FAEI, for example, we are a scientific team of two chemists-cum-art historians, each with some 20 years experience in the scientific analysis of works of art, an imaging specialist and a qualified paintings conservator. Similar competences can be found in museum laboratories (most countries have at least one major museum equipped with a scientific laboratory, in the UK for paintings this would be for example the National Gallery in London, in the US there are several such as the Chicago Institute of Art, the National Gallery in Washington DC, or the Getty Conservation Institute in L.A.). However, these would not normally take on work for private clients, which is where laboratories like ours come in, providing services to collectors, art dealers, investors, and also to public institutions.

Guest article by Dr Kilian Anheuser

Photos: Dr Kilian Anheuser

Liberals Announce Increase for Immigration

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Canada’s Liberal government has announced plans to increase immigration levels to 300,000 per year, a 40,000 increase to the target level.

The number of immigrants accepted in 2016 was unusually high due to the government’s taking in of thousands of Syrian refugees. The number including the refugees turned out to be 300,000, and Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum said Monday that this number will now be the permanent base target. The target for the past five years was 260,000, part of a continuing trend of increased immigration since the late 1980s.

McCallum also said that the Liberal government may eventually increase immigration levels to 450,000.

StatsCan Chief Quits, Charges Government with Compromising the Agency

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“All of you are aware of my view that this loss of independence and control is not only an apprehension, but an effective reality today,” wrote the Chief Statistician of Canada Wayne Smith in a resignation letter obtained by The Canadian Press.

Smith is the second chief of the organization to quit on principle in the last 6 years. Munir Sheikh, Smith’s predecessor, resigned in protest of the Conservative government’s changing of the census into a voluntary survey in 2010.

“… Statistics Canada is increasingly hobbled in the delivery of its programs through disruptive, ineffective, slow and unaffordable supply of physical informatics services by Shared Services Canada,” Smith stated.

“I have made the best effort I can to have this situation remediated, but to no effect. I cannot lend my support to government initiatives that will purport to protect the independence of Statistics Canada when, in fact, that independence has never been more compromised.”

The government’s Shared Services Canada has a veto over Stats Can, according to Smith, and this undermines the independence of the statistics organization.

“I do not wish to preside over the decline of … a world-leading statistical office,” stated Smith.

“So I am resigning, in order to call public attention to this situation.”

Almost Half of Japanese Single Adults Under 35 Are Virgins Now

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Japan is dealing with a shrinking population — Japan’s fertility rate is 1.4, one of the lowest in the world.

One of problems behind the shrinking numbers was recently highlighted by a study that has found that a large number of Japanese adults are not in relationships, are not looking for relationships, and many have never been in a sexual relationship.

70 percent of unmarried men and 60 percent of unmarried women between the ages of 18 and 34 aren’t currently in relationships, and 42 percent of men and 44 percent of women are virgins.

The virgin rate is up from the last study six years ago from 36 and 39 percent.

These people overwhelming intend to be married and have families “sometime,” according to they study. 90 percent came out as saying they wanted to get hitched eventually.

So why don’t they get married, or even get into serious relationships?

The researchers point to a gap between ideas about life and realities of life. This idea-reality gap is characterized late completion of expected (and required for almost all jobs) education, prohibitive costs of dwelling, food, transportation and other life costs, the high incidence of female labor, the less family-oriented lifestyle prevalent in today’s Japan and abroad.

4 Top Banks To Create New Digital Currency

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UBS, Deutsche Bank, Santander, and BNY Mellon are working on a new blockchain-based digital currency.

Currently, the new currency is being referred to by the banks simply as “utility settlement coin.”

The four banks involved belong to the R3 consortium of 50 institutions looking into improving distributed ledger tech.

“You need a form of digital cash on the distributed ledger in order to get maximum benefit from these technologies,” said Hyder Jaffrey at UBS. “What that allows us to do is to take away the time these processes take, such as waiting for payment to arrive. That frees up capital trapped during the process.

The move is significant because it is the first time such a group of first-rate banks have set about creating a specific currency, although Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are also working on digital currencies.

For banks, the main benefit of digital currency is easing transactions between institutions by removing the third party settlement. Banks spend around $65 to 80 million every year on settlement and other associated processes, and it has been estimated that using a blockchain-based digital currency could reduce that by around $20 million.

New Law Prohibits States From Labeling GE Fish

global warming
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States are no longer allowed to label genetically engineered fish, according to Steve Mashuda, a litigator who is managing attorney for the Oceans program at Earth Justice.

Mashuda has been involved in a legal challenge to the government’s approval of GE salmon for human consumption.

Recently the House and Senate passed a bill prohibiting states from from labeling these fish. And on Friday, July 29, the bill was signed into law.

“Additionally, the FDA is still failing to analyze and prevent the risks these fish can cause to wild salmon and the environment,” wrote Mashuda in a notice about the recent developments.

Mashuda’s team will challenge the decision in court, he stated.

“[W]e’re up against powerful forces trying to bring these fish to market at any expense.”

The fish in question are the spawn of a company called AquaBounty Technologies and are engineered in laboratories to grow twice as fast as wild salmon.

AquaBounty plans to produce the GE salmon eggs on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and send the salmon on a 5,000-mile journey before they reach U.S. supermarkets.

The salmon will be grown to market size in a facility in Panama, processed into fillets, then shipped to the United States for sale.

AquaBounty has publicly announced plans to ultimately grow its GE fish in the United States and other places around the world. Despite this, the FDA has chosen to limit the scope of its review to the Canada and Panama facilities.

U.S. Atlantic salmon, and many populations of Pacific salmon, are protected by the Endangered Species Act and in danger of extinction.

“Not only can these engineered salmon crossbreed with wild native fish, they can also threaten wild populations by out-competing them for scarce resources and habitat, or by introducing new diseases,” warned Mashuda.

Music for Melting Icebergs : Pianist Ludovico Einaudi Performing on the Arctic Ocean

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60 year-old Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi performed his composition “Elegy for the Arctic” last Friday in the Svalbard islands in Norway facing sub-zero temperatures.

A grand piano standing majestically in the middle of melting icebergs is surely not a common sight. Yet, it is not only for the pleasure of the eye or the ear that Greenpeace ice breaking vessel Arctic Sunrise brought the musician against the backdrop of the Walhlenbergbreen glacier.


This unique performance on a platform floating on the Arctic Ocean was part of a campaign to protect the Arctic environment and send a conservation message to world leaders.

Being here has been a great experience. I could see the purity and fragility of this area with my own eyes. It is important that we understand the importance of the Arctic, stop the process of destruction and protect it.” Einaudi said in a statement.

The video was released on Tuesday to mark the start of the four-day meeting of the OSPAR Commission in Tenerife, Spain. OSPAR consists of 15 governments of the EU seeking to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic.
According to Greenpeace, the Arctic is warming faster than any other place in the world with a continuing loss of sea ice volume.

As we watch this haunting performance accompanied by eerie sounds due to icebergs movements slowly melting with ice chunks crumbling and falling in the Ocean, let us not forget that we are witnessing the spectacular yet dramatic effects of rising temperatures.

The Greenpeace petition to protect the Arctic sea is online here.

“Until they change their view, those who would risk the Arctic should not be heard over those calling to protect what we love, not over Ludovico’s music, not over the piano and the glacier, not over eight million voices.”

The World Press Photo Exhibition Tour – ‘Inspiring. Engaging. Educating. Supporting.’

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The World Press Photo exhibition tour that showcases award-winning photographs is the most popular traveling photo event in the world.

Each year, over three and a half million people worldwide go see the images of this prestigious annual press photography contest. The 2016 touring exhibition featuring the winners and finalists will open in Amsterdam on 16 April. The photos will then be exhibited in more than a hundred cities in 45 countries.

Since its creation in 1955, World Press Photo rewarded many impactful images – the mutilated face of a Rwandan man at a Red Cross hospital, a naked girl running after a napalm attack in Vietnam or a Buddhist monk setting himself on fire – that have established styles in visual storytelling or have become iconic.

Through this annual contest, the World Press Photo foundation strives “to inspire, engage, educate, and support both visual journalists and their global audience” while promoting and securing freedom of information and freedom of speech.

Centered as much on the aesthetic and the technical as on the journalistic aspects of the images, the selected images present the reality of current issues and expose the beauty of life in 8 categories: Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, General News, Long-Term Projects, Nature, People, Sports, and Spot News.

This year, 5,775 photographers from 128 countries submitted a total of 82,951 images for judging. At the end of the selection, 41 photographers from 21 countries were awarded by the jury. The refugee crisis in Europe, the war in Syria and the Paris attack were among the entries.

The 2016 award ceremony will be held in Amsterdam on 22 and 23 April.

2016 : Syrian refugees for the World Press Photo of the year


The jury of the 59th annual World Press Photo Contest selected Hope for a New Life – a photography by Australian photographer Warren Richardson as the World Press Photo of the Year 2015.

Hope for a New Life - Warren Richardson
Hope for a New Life, World Press Photo of the Year 2015 – Warren Richardson

Hope for a New Life
shows refugees about to cross the border from Serbia into Hungary. Taken at night on 28 August 2015, this man and child were part of a movement of people trying to cross into Hungary before a secure fence on the border was completed.

Richardson brought additional information about his telling image: “I camped with the refugees for five days on the border. A group of about 200 people arrived, and they moved under the trees along the fence line. They sent women and children, then fathers and elderly men first. I must have been with this crew for about five hours and we played cat and mouse with the police the whole night. I was exhausted by the time I took the picture. It was around three o’clock in the morning and you can’t use a flash while the police are trying to find these people, because I would just give them away. So I had to use the moonlight alone.”

In a press release from World Press Photo, jury chair and photo director of Agence France-Presse Francis Kohn said about the image: “Early on we looked at this photo and we knew it was an important one. It had such power because of its simplicity, especially the symbolism of the barbed wire. We thought it had almost everything in there to give a strong visual of what’s happening with the refugees.”


Voting for the world press photo of the year 2015 (Frank van Beek/ Hollandse Hoogte)
Voting for the world press photo of the year 2015 (Frank van Beek/ Hollandse Hoogte)


General News, 1st prize stories : Sergey Ponomarev

Reporting Europe’s Refugee Crisis.
Refugees arrive by boat on the Greek island of Lesbos.
November 16, 2015

Sergey Ponomarev, Russia, 2015, for The New York Times)
(Sergey Ponomarev, Russia, 2015, for The New York Times)

A man struggles to board a train headed to the Croatian capital Zagreb, in Tovarnik, a town near the border with Serbia.
September 18, 2015

Sergey Ponomarev, Russia, 2015, For The New York Times
(Sergey Ponomarev, Russia, 2015, for The New York Times)


Spot News, third prize stories : Bulent Kilic

Broken Border.
People cross into Turkey through a broken fence, near the official border crossing at Akçakale. Akçakale and the Syrian town of Tel Abyad are directly adjacent to each other, with the border running through the middle.
June 14, 2015.

Bulent Kilic, Turkey, 2015, Agence France-Presse
(Bulent Kilic, Turkey, 2015, Agence France-Presse)

Refugees pass through broken border fences and trenches to enter Turkish territory.
June 14, 2015

Bulent Kilic, Turkey, 2015, Agence France-Presse
(Bulent Kilic, Turkey, 2015, Agence France-Presse)


Contemporary Issues, 1st prize singles : Zhang Lei

Haze in China.
Tianjin, an industrial and logistics hub in northeastern China shrouded in haze.
December 10, 2015

Zhang Lei, China, 2015, Tianjin Daily
(Zhang Lei, China, 2015, Tianjin Daily)


Contemporary Issues, 1st prize stories : Màrio Cruz

Talibes, Modern-day Slaves.
Series portraying the plight of Talibes, boys who live at Islamic schools known as Daaras in Senegal. Abdoulaye, 15, is a talibe imprisoned in a room with security bars to keep him from running away.
May 18, 2015

Mário Cruz, Portugal, 2015
(Mário Cruz, Portugal, 2015)


Daily Life, 1st prize singles : Kevin Frayer

China’s Coal Addiction.
Chinese men push a tricycle through a neighborhood next to a coal-fired power plant in northern Shanxi province. A heavy dependence on burning coal for energy has made China the source of nearly a third of the world’s CO2 emissions.
November 26, 2015

Kevin Frayer, Canada.
(Kevin Frayer, Canada)


General News, 1st prize singles : Mauricio Lima

IS Fighter Treated at Kurdish Hospital.
Doctor rubs ointment on the burns of Jacob, a 16-year-old fighter from the group calling itself Islamic State (IS) at a hospital in Al-Hasaka, northern Syria.
August 1, 2015

Mauricio Lima, Brazil, 2015 for The New York Times
(Mauricio Lima, Brazil, 2015 for The New York Times)


General News, second prize singles : Paul Hansen

Under the Cover of Darkness.
Volunteers assist refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing by boat from Turkey under cover of darkness to avoid detection.
December 6, 2015

Paul Hansen, Sweden, 2015, Dagens Nyhete
(Paul Hansen, Sweden, 2015, Dagens Nyhete)


Spot News, first prize stories : Sameer Al-Doumy

Aftermath of Airstrike in Syria.
A man pushes his bicycle past debris following airstrikes in Hamouria, Syria.
December 9, 2015

Sameer Al-Doumy, Syria, 2015, Agence France-Presse)
(Sameer Al-Doumy, Syria, 2015, Agence France-Presse)


Spot News, second prize singles : Corentin Fohlen

March Against Terrorism in Paris
People demonstrate their solidarity with victims of terrorist attacks, and voice support for freedom of speech, at the end of a rally at the Place de la Nation in Paris.
January 11, 2015

. Corentin Fohlen, France, 2015
(Corentin Fohlen, France, 2015)


People, 1st prize singles : Matic Zorman

Waiting to Register
Refugee children covered in rain capes wait in line to be registered at a refugee camp in Preševo, Serbia. October 7, 2015

Matic Zorman, Slovenia, 2015
(Matic Zorman, Slovenia, 2015)


Nature, 1st prize singles : Rohan Kelly

Storm Front on Bondi Beach.
A massive shelf cloud moves towards Bondi Beach.
November 6, 2015

Rohan Kelly, Australia, 2015, Daily Telegraph
(Rohan Kelly, Australia, 2015, Daily Telegraph)


Nature, second prize singles : Anuar Patjane Floriuk

Whale Whisperers.
A humpback whale and her newborn calf swim near Roca Partida, the smallest island of the Revillagigedo archipelago, off the Pacific coast of Mexico.
January 28, 2015

Anuar Patjane Floriuk, Mexico, 2015
(Anuar Patjane Floriuk, Mexico, 2015)


Nature, third prize singles: Sergio Tapiro

The Power of Nature.
Colima Volcano erupts with rock showers, lightning, and lava flows in Mexico.
December 13, 2015

Sergio Tapiro, Mexico, 2015
(Sergio Tapiro, Mexico, 2015)


The winning pictures are published in a yearbook available in multiple languages.

All the informations about the upcoming 2016 exhibition tour.



Scientists Successful In Growing “Mini-Stomachs” That Produce Insulin When Transplanted

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A team of researchers has succeeded in creating mini insulin-producing organs that can be implanted into a diabetic animal to maintain glucose levels, progress towards what they consider the future of regenerative medicine.

The cells the researchers found are best at producing insulin when reprogrammed are pylotic cells — cells from the lower region of the stomach, called the “pylorus region.”

They think that these cells work best because they are naturally very similar to the pancreatic beta cells that normally carry out this function. What they do better than other cells is respond to high glucose levels by producing insulin to normalize blood sugar levels.

Engineered gastic mini organ – the green represents insulin cells and the blue gastric stem/progenitor cells

What the researchers first did with their mouse test subjects and what they think could be done for people are two different things.

With mice, the researchers initially reprogrammed cells in their stomachs with conversion genes to become beta cells, and then they destroyed the mice’s pancreatic beta cells, forcing their bodies to rely solely on the artificially created ones. While control mice died within eight weeks, mice possessing the reprogrammed cells lived as long as they were tracked (up to six months).

The researchers also found that pyloric cells had the advantage of naturally renewing themselves — when the researchers destroyed the cells they had created, new ones grew and produced insulin.

Engineered stomach

This transgenic experiment would not be used as treatment for diabetes in people, however. Instead, the researchers set about to try something new: they grew tiny stomachs to produce insulin.

They took pyloric tissue out of mice, reprogrammed it to express beta-cell functions, grew the cells in the form of a tiny ball of insulin-producing “stomach,” and put the ball back into the mice. When they destroyed these mice’s pancreatic cells, the engineered organ implants compensated, maintaining normal levels of glucose in five of 22 test animals.

Senior author Dr. Qiao Zhou of the Harvard University Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology explained how they will bridge the gap from the current study to an application for people.

“We are working on two approaches to move this forward toward therapeutics,” Zhou told The Speaker. “One approach is to create engineered human stomach mini-organs from human iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells made from the fibroblasts of individual patients) that can produce insulin in culture, followed by transplantation. The other approach is to culture human stomach stem cells from patient biopsy samples, reprogram them into beta-cells in culture, and then transplant them back to the same person. We are making progress on both fronts.”

He also noted the promise offered by engineered therapeutic organs in general.

“The regenerative medicine field has been moving towards a very exciting future of making and engineering entire organs with a complex assembly of different cell types. It is still early but with enormous potential. These organs could replace or supplement the normal function of organs in our body that are failing due to disease or aging. Genetic and bioengineering could be further applied to endow the organs with new function. I believe this is very much the future of regenerative medicine.”

The researchers said they were excited about their success. Replacing insulin-producing pancreatic cells is something science has been trying to do for decades.

“The most surprising part of the study for me is that there are cells residing in your stomach that share surprising features with pancreatic beta-cells,” said Dr. Zhou. “They do not naturally make insulin, but I believe therapeutic methods can be found to “tickle” them to do so. If successfully, it will provide an new approach to treat diabetes.”

Images: The report
Report: Ariyachet et al.: “Reprogrammed stomach tissue as a renewable source of functional beta-cells for blood glucose regulation,” published in Cell.
Link to report

Octopuses Turn Black, Posture Aggressively To Intimidate Each Other

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A recent study of octopuses off the coast of Australia has discovered that — despite usually being considered a solitary animal — octopuses have a social life, and part of that social life involves physical displays of toughness.

When octopuses meet each other in agonistic interactions, they exhibit certain types of behavior, researchers at the Alaska Pacific University found.

“We found that octopuses are using body patterns and postures to signal to each other during disputes,” said David Scheel of Alaska Pacific University.

“The postures and patterns can be quite flashy, such as standing very tall, raising the body mantle high above the eyes, and turning very dark.”

The impetus for the research came from a member of an online cephalopod community noting something he’d seen octopuses doing that he thought was interesting. The researchers took it from there, watching 186 interactions between Octopus tetricus — a species that lives in Jervis Bay, Australia — which furnished them with 500 interactions.

The agonistic behavior was what they noticed primarily.

When both octopuses turned black, it was more likely they would engage in physical violence to settle the question of dominance, but when one turned black and the other was a pale color, the pale colored octopus more often retreated while the black octopus held the field.

“Dark color appears to be associated with aggression, while paler colors accompany retreat,” said Scheel.

Next for the researchers is further investigation of octopus interactions — specifically, they want to investigate suspicions that social interactions among the species occur when food is abundant and hiding places scarce. They also want to understand the consequences of these types of social interactions in the context of octopus populations.

The report, “Signal Use by Octopuses in Agonistic Interactions,” was completed by Drs. David Scheel, Peter Godfrey-Smith and Matthew Lawrence, and was published in the journal Current Biology.

By Andy Stern