The World’s Greatest Forger of Pictorial Art
BY: Jacques Harvey
On Friday, March 23rd, the artist considered to be the world’s greatest forger of pictorial art had a showing of his most famous works at Yaacov Heller’s Gallery 22 in Boca. Harvey’s “in the style of” painting began in 1970 when a wealthy Palm Beach businessman visited him in Paris looking for original works by Picasso, Chagall and Monet. Not able to find any, he left and Harvey decided to create his own Renoir and Monet’s, which were “promptly purchased by his Florida contact.”
He spent days in the most important Italian, French, Dutch and Russian museums at the age of 21, after spending 4 years at the Academie Julian where Matisse and Bonnard had studied. He wanted to learn and have a better understanding of the master’s construction.
After 40 years of professional experience, Harvey developed his own personal style. He presents his new works in a gallery of his choice, but several times a year he says he “feels a deep-seated need to create works in the style of one of my fellow artists from the past”. At that point he says,” Harvey no longer exists. I become Picasso, Matisse, or Van Gogh. I invent a work. I only copy the technique and style.”
Famous collectors of his work have been Johnny Carson, Lucile Ball, Princess Grace, Gene Kelly, Diana Ross, Ernest Borgnine, Prince Albert of Monaco, Harold Robbins, Aristotle Onassis and many, many more too numerous to mention.
He always signs his painting at the moment of sale “in the style of,” if they are Monet, Picasso, etc look a-likes. A young couple once came asking him to do a Renoir and to sign it Renoir. They said they were prepared to pay handsomely! But he said, ‘I am not prepared to go to prison.”
He refused the offer and started to take them to the door when the man showed him a government card. “We are FBI agents and have been conducting an investigation on you for months. The man shook his hand and the woman
smiled kindly. They congratulated him on his honesty and assured him that they had not discovered anything suspicious. The woman told him she had fallen in love with a watercolor in the style of Laurencin. He offered to give it to her but she insisted on paying. He gave her a very good price and she left with it under her arm. He has been made this
kind of proposal many times and always refused; “forger does not mean swindler.”
Jacques Harvey was awarded the silver medal (medaille d’argent) of the City of Paris. He has collaborated in the making of several films and television programs. In Dallas, in particular, for the art gallery and the credits, The Pink Panther by Blake Edwards and in the Roger Vadim film Stroke of Luck for which he was the art consultant and did more than thirty paintings.
Harvey is a citizen of the United States now living in Miami and in November, 2011, he inaugurated Miami’s new school of painting.