Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Checking a Book Out of the Chinese Library

You can return it in Boston.

"College librarian in China admits he replaced art with fakes" Associated Press  July 22, 2015

BEIJING — A former chief librarian at a Chinese university admitted in court Tuesday to stealing about 140 paintings by grandmasters in a gallery under his watch and replacing them with fakes he painted himself.

For two years up until 2006, Xiao Yuan substituted famous works, including landscapes and calligraphies, in a gallery at the library of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.

He told the court in his defense that the practice appeared to be rampant and the handling of such paintings was not secure. He said he noticed fakes already hanging in the gallery on his first day on the job. Later, after he replaced some of the remaining masters with his own fakes, he was surprised when he noticed his paintings were being substituted with even more fakes.

‘‘I realized someone else had replaced my paintings with their own, because I could clearly discern that their works were terribly bad,’’ Xiao, 57, said in court.

Xiao said he didn’t know who had replaced his fakes, but that students and professors could take out paintings in the same way as they could borrow library books.

Xiao sold 125 of the paintings at auction between 2004 and 2011 for $6 million.

The stolen works included paintings by 20th century artists Qi Baishi, who used watercolors, and Zhang Daqian, who depicted landscapes.