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Friday, 24 November, 2000, 12:41 GMT
'Fakes' on sale in Jakarta
Visitors at the Jakarta exhibition
The real thing? Visitors inspect the Jakarta exhibition
By Richard Galpin in Jakarta

Art experts in Indonesia are up in arms about an exhibition and auction of paintings being held in the capital, Jakarta.

The exhibition organisers say it includes long lost works by celebrated artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Renoir and Chagal and Pissarro.

But one well-known critic said he believed 99% of the works being exhibited were fakes.

There are over one hundred paintings on show. They come from the private collection of an Indonesian businessman.

Found in Indonesia

Apparently he hunted the length and breadth of the country for the past 20 years in search of these masterpieces, which he bought in good faith.

A picture said to be by Degas
Degas? an Indonesian woman takes a closer look

A painting by Van Gogh was apparently found recently in a plantation in Java and is valued at up to four million dollars.

To justify their claim, the organisers say thousands of European artists visited Indonesia during the long period of Dutch colonial rule.

They also say there were a number of major exhibitions last century, when some paintings were sold.

Half of this remarkable collection is now due to be auctioned off, potentially for millions of dollars.

'Scandal'

But art experts have slammed the exhibition. One described it as the biggest scandal in the recent history of Indonesian art.

Security guard at the exhibition
A security guard watches over the 'masterpieces'

Another told the BBC after going around the exhibition that he believed almost all the paintings were fakes, and bad ones at that.

He said the exhibition was an insult and would tarnish Indonesia's reputation. He called for the auction to be cancelled immediately.

Although clearly embarrassed by the criticism, the organisers remain defiant. One told the BBC 'the show must go on'.

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