Meet “Father Philanthropy”: America’s Most Prolific and Unlikely Master Art Forger

Close your eyes and picture a philanthropist.

Likely you envisioned a fat cat with a designer checkbook. It’s the accepted image, but not every benefactor fits the mold.

Take Mark Landis, a gentle soul who’s spent three decades surprising the staffs of small American museums with artwork presented out of the blue. Not just any artwork, and certainly not the nineteenth-century originals they were represented as—in every case, donor Landis was eventually revealed to be the artist.

In Terri Timely‘s documentary glimpse, “Father Philanthropy” (above, with a deleted scene below), Landis obligingly guides viewers through the multi-step process by which his forgeries are created, but he reveals little about his motivation, beyond a desire to honor the memory of his parents (Mother looms large here.)

His fakes don’t add up to a grand conceptual piece, a la artist  J. S. G. Boggs‘ incredibly detailed, far-more-valuable-than-the-items-they-were-used-to-purchase banknotes. He seems indifferent to the possibility of high profile, if ill gotten, prestige. He is, quite simply a giver. His gifts cost the recipients professional pride and unexpected fees associated with ferreting out the truth, but they seem malice-free. “About all I’ve got is an ability to draw and paint,” he states, “So naturally it led me to give away drawing and paintings.”

via The Atlantic

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