For nearly eight years Xiao Yuan, chief librarian at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, substituted paintings and calligraphies with his own art and sold the originals, making almost 35 million yuan ($5.6 million), the court heard.
Works by 20th century painter Qi Baishi — whose “Ode to the Motherland” fetched 72 million yuan ($11.4 million) at a Beijing auction in 2012 and is considered one of the world’s highest valued artists — were among those removed by Xiao.
Xiao also replaced “Rock and Birds” by 17th century painter Zhu Da, which was valued at 30 million yuan, the Information Times newspaper said Wednesday.
The fraudster sold 125 of the paintings at auction, while another 18 in his collection seized by police were valued at around 77 million yuan, prosecutors said.
But Xiao, 57, told the court that others were doing the same thing.
“During the investigation when the police showed me a picture of my copies, I realised that 10 years earlier someone had replaced it with their own copy, because their work was very poor,” he said in footage of Tuesday’s hearing posted online by the Guangzhou People’s
“I could see it wasn’t my own work, the standard was too bad,” he added.
A spokesman at the
branch of China Guardian Auctions confirmed to AFP that Xiao was one of its
clients, but said it was “still verifying the details related to his case”. Beijing
Police have previously closed museums in
displaying fake exhibits. China
The Lucheng museum in the northeastern
was closed last year after almost a third of the 8,000 items on display were
discovered to be not genuine, state media said. province of Liaoning
In 2013, a museum in the central
was found to have scores of fake exhibits, including a vase decorated with
cartoon characters but described as a Qing dynasty artefact. province of Henan
Pictures posted by the state-run China Radio International (CRI) showed the vase decorated with bright green cartoon animals, including a creature resembling a laughing squid.