Recent news reports revealed that British Columbian art dealer Steve Hoffman, based in Langley, has been supplying fake indigenous art to Canadian museums and art galleries. The works, supposedly by artist Harvey John, have been on the market for years. It is anybody’s guess how much money was generated from the scam.
Upon learning of the fraud, museums selling the fake works contacted the buyers offering a full refund and removed the pieces from their stores. In a telephone interview with CBC News, Hoffman admitted to his deception and claimed that the works were by one carver based in British Columbia. He also refused to identify the artist, explaining that, “I don’t want to be ratting out anybody.”
You might be wondering how the deception was uncovered? Well, Erin Brillon, a Haida/Cree fashion designer, saw a listing that described John’s work as original Haida carvings, not Nuu-Chah-Nulth as noted in the artist’s official biography. It was apparent to her that the works were not Haida designed. She then posted the listing on a Facebook group page devoted to uncovering fake Indigenous art. After that, it did not take long for the whole scheme to unravel.
Chalk one up for people who care!
Remember – the art world is a jungle, so find the right guide before you become someone’s next meal!