In 1952, Elmyr de Hory returned to Los Angeles after a prosperous sojourn to Dallas, Texas. He had
managed to sell some of his stash of alleged masterpieces, including some Picasso and Matisse drawings. He
had made a huge profit and was hoping he would be equally successful in Southern California. Elymr had set
up an appointment with art dealer Frank Perls, owner of a well-known Beverly Hills gallery, and he planned
to unload more of his art works for another sizeable profit.
Elmyr dressed in his best suit for the occasion, carrying with him a large portfolio. At his meeting with Perls,
Elmyr presented what he claimed were drawings he inherited from his family following World War II. The
portfolio purportedly included sketches from Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and Modigliani.
Perls took one look at the works and was immensely impressed. After all,
it's not often that one has the chance to hold great masterpieces by some of
the world's most famous artists. However, the longer Perls looked at the
pictures the more concerned he became. It was clear that something was
wrong and Perls' worrisome expression discomforted Elymr.
According to Clifford Irving's book Fake! Perls questioned Elmyr about his
address and other detailed personal information, causing Elmyr's
nervousness to grow. Perls then calmly placed the pictures back into the
portfolio, tied the strings, and then suddenly threw the mat at Elmyr. Elmyr
was shocked by the unexpected action and was uncertain what to do next
until Perls ordered him to get out.
Elmyr then walked out of the gallery with Perls yelling behind him. Perls
observed what an untrained eye would likely never notice: these works
were clearly fakes. It was also true that they were created masterfully.
To Perls' surprise, Elmyr asked after being thrown out of the gallery whether he thought the drawings were
well done. According to Irving, Perls replied, "they certainly fooled me for a few minutes" before ordering
the counterfeiter away again. The incident was not Elmyr's first or last time at trying to sell excellent
forgeries. In fact, he had been doing it successfully for years.
Unbeknown to Frank Perls, Elmyr had sold some forgeries to Perls' brother Klaus in New Yorkseveral years
earlier. Elmyr's involvement with the two Perls brothers would later cause unexpected problems. In fact, one
of the Perls' brothers would be directly involved in what would later be the end of Elmyr's career as a skillful
For approximately three decades Elmyr de Hory used his extraordinary
talent to reproduce masterpieces from some of the world's greatest artists,
including Picasso, Vlaminck, Chagall, Toulouse-Lautrec, Dufy, Derain,
Matisse, Degas, Bonnard, Laurencin and Modigliani. His accuracy for detail
fooled even the most skilled art connoisseurs into believing that his
creations were authentic. Given their alleged provenance, Elymr's sold his
forgeries for high prices. Moreover, he managed to elude Interpol and the