From Russia With Doubt

The Quest to Authenticate 181 Would-be Masterpieces of the Russian Avant-Garde

Adam Lerner

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     7 × 9.5 in (17.8 × 24.1 cm)
176 pages
200 color illustrations
Publication date: 11/12/2013
Rights: World
ISBN: 9781616891626

In 2010 the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver director Adam Lerner did something unheard of in the museum world: he mounted a large exhibition of paintings without first knowing whether they were real or fakes. Painted in the Suprematist and Constructivist style of early twentieth-century Russian avant-garde masters, the 181 canvases had been acquired by amateur collectors Ron and Roger Pollard from a mysterious seller in Germany they met on eBay, who claimed the paintings were found in an abandoned shipping container held in German customs since the 1980s. In From Russia with Doubt, Lerner skillfully weaves together the tale, from the initial eBay find to his controversial decision to exhibit the collection, guiding readers through the looking glass into the Byzantine corridors of the art world and beyond describing the owners' quest to authenticate and appraise the would-be masterpieces. What he finds raises powerful questions about our own relationship to art.
  • Accessible text reads like an absorbing episode of NPR's This American Life
  • Has all the elements of a first rate who-done-it: a cast of characters, mysterious package contents, financial motives, forensic writing specialists, and a secretive meeting at a Paris train station
  • In addition to images of the collection, the book includes original documents and evidence supporting the search for authentication
  • Highlights important issues relevant to museums, collectors, and the art-viewing public

Adam Lerner is Director and Chief Animator at MCA Denver.

Editorial Reviews

The Paris Review:

"The book reads like a great thriller.... It's also a beautiful meditation on what defines the authenticity of art. "

Wink Books:

"A thrilling true story with a mystery that may never be solved."

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