A Sydney antique furniture dealer has admitted to painting thousands of works of art bearing the signatures of Australian and internationally famous artists that would be worth more than $100 million if genuine.
Many of the paintings, which look like works by artists from Monet to Picasso, Arthur Streeton to Brett Whiteley, have been sold for thousands of dollars and hang undetected in dealers’ and private collections in Australia, New Zealand and the US.
In an extraordinary series of interviews with the Herald, William Blundell, 52, who paints in his penthouse in Elizabeth Bay, has admitted painting between 3,500 and 4,000 of these works. He denies they are forgeries, saying his “innuendos” were never intended to deceive.
However, in evidence in an unreported Supreme Court case this month, it emerged that several hundred of these paintings have been onsold privately and at auction as the real thing after Blundell sold them for a song as copies “for decorative purposes only” to the flamboyant Sydney art dealer Germaine Curvers, who died last year.
Blundell specialised in the Australian impressionists and identified as his paintings works apparently signed by Charles Blackman, Russell Drysdale, Emanuel Phillips Fox, Fred Williams, Arthur Boyd, William Dobell, Jeffrey Smart, Sidney Nolan, Lloyd Rees and Arthur Streeton – all painters whose work can command six figures.
His work bearing the names of international artists would be worth much more, if genuine.
Blundell says he became so practised he could turn out 20 or 30 “Whiteleys” in a couple of hours. The majority of the “innuendos” were sold by Curvers through her Windsor Gallery in Paddington, and by small Sydney and interstate auction houses.
Many of his paintings Curvers sold fooled even the experts and finished up commanding top prices at auction, he said. One, signed Arthur Streeton, was authenticated by the National Gallery in Canberra.
Pub: Sydney Morning Herald
Pu bdate: Saturday 18 July 1998
Word count: 1273
Classification: Crime/Art People/Name/Blundell/William/Artist Culture/Art/Paintings
Geographic area: Australia