Fakes and forgeries

Scope and Content

The material in this sub-collection - all concerning fakes and forgeries - was found scattered across Sewell's papers and brought together during the cataloguing process. It includes:


-typed draft articles


-research materials

-cuttings of articles written by Sewell and others


Sewell filed the material relating to the various fakes and forgers in A4 brown envelopes, and gave each envelope a title. His titles have been retained but as the newscuttings were in no particular order, these have been arranged chronologically whilst cataloguing the collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

According to his 2011 autobiography, Outsider Always Almost: Never Quite, Sewell's interest in fakes and forgeries started when he was a schoolboy, following the exposure of Han van Meegeren (1889-1947) as a forger. From this point onwards, both Sewell and his mother collected published material on the subject, in particular cuttings from journals and papers.

He continued to pursue this area of interest in his roles as art historian and journalist. Sewell gave evidence in legal proceedings, advised cultural organisations and individuals about fakes and forgeries, and often wrote articles on the subject. In 1983, Sewell and Colin Simpson of The Times published a series of articles based on their research about those who created, sold, and bought forged works of art. This led to Sewell making a statement about their findings to the Metropolitan Police's Fine Art squad, but no prosecutions were made.

Access Information


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