Culture agency to tackle fake art

In response to the mass circulation of counterfeit prints based on paintings by nihonga master Ikuo Hirayama and others, the Cultural Affairs Agency will launch a council of experts on art authentication in fiscal 2021 to begin a full-scale study of countermeasures against counterfeit artworks.

The agency hopes to start taking concrete measures within a few years.

A series of counterfeit works have been found in the art market. Given domestic art market in 2019 was ¥258 billion, or only 3.4% of the global market, the agency hopes to increase the credibility of the market and revitalize the trade by taking measures against fake artworks.

The expert panel will discuss how to authenticate artworks, including, for example, how to evaluate them as assets.

Countermeasure ideas include the agency possibly formulating guidelines by the government and commissioning authentication to private organizations. The agency also will examine the possibility of supporting information management on artworks using a technology called blockchain, which makes it difficult to falsify data.

Tokyo-based Toobi Certification for Fine Arts and other private organizations have conventionally been responsible for art authentication. One of the options of the countermeasures will likely be for the government to officially recognize these organizations and put them in charge of appraisals.

An Osaka Prefecture art dealer was found to have sold counterfeit prints based on work by renowned artists that include Ikuo Hirayama. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department is investigating on suspicion of copyright infringement.