In 1932, a New York retail magnate bequeathed a trove of artwork to the Brooklyn Museum, but after a series of recent high-tech inspections, many of the donations turned out to be fake. And because of the benefactor's will, the museum can't even throw them out.
Col. Michael Friedsam earned his wealth as the president of a lavish Manhattan department store and prided himself on his collection of Renaissance paintings, canvasses by Dutch masters, porcelain from China, and other precious artifacts. But, after putting his 926 donations to the Brooklyn Museum through modern verification tests, curators now know that about a quarter of the items he gave the museum upon his death are fakes, including that portrait of Louis XI to the right.
Art authentication techniques have become a highly precise, forensic science since Friedsam's days. Writing about a small portrait that had been confirmed as the handiwork of Leonardo da Vinci a few years ago, Time's Dan Fletcher reported that art verification process hinged on "a high-resolution multispectral camera," "a faint fingerprint left on the canvas," "carbon dating," and analysis that revealed the canvas was painted by a left-handed person.