Paintings by forger Elmyr de Hory at auction in Brazil

The auction house Thais Alexandre Leiloeira (Rio de Janeiro) will sell a significant collection of Elmyr de Hory's counterfeit paintings owned by a friend of Carlo Mossy, the Brazilian director, actor, and producer, from October 17 to 19. This selection of art works was given to Carlo Mossy by Fernand Legros, Elmyr de Hory’s art dealer.

After a scandal involving the sale of fake paintings created by Elmyr de Hory and sold by Fernand Legros, the famous art dealer fled to Brazil.


In Copacabana, in the mid-1960s, Fernand Legros was about to drown when he was saved by Carlo Mossy. He told him something like: “You saved my life. So I’m going to save yours.” Fernand Legros, and Carlo Mossy, unknown at the time, began a romance. Mossy followed the art dealer to Europe, where he met famous film stars and directors. In 1973, Legros was extradited to France, and Interpol tracked him down in Brazil. When he had to flee, he left a good number of paintings, perhaps hundreds, to Carlo Mossy. The Brazilian began selling the paintings, and even organized an exhibition at the Ipanema art gallery

Carlo Mossy (left), Fernand Legros (right)

Now that we’ve explained the incredible coincidence between Legros and Mossy, let’s delve into the history of one of the most famous forgers ever, Elmyr de Hory. It will also shed light on how he came to intersect with Fernand Legros.

Elmyr de HoryHomage to Raul Dufy.
Oil on canvas, 54 x 45 cm, signed “Dufy”.
This work will be offered during the auction.


Throughout his 30-year career, Elmyr de Hory (1906-1976) introduced over 1,000 of his counterfeit paintings and drawings of modern masters like Pablo Picasso,Henri Matisse, Amedeo ModiglianiPierre-Auguste Renoir, Raoul DufyAndré Derain, Edgar DegasKees van Dongen, and others into the art market.

Elmy de Hory

He received art training between 1924 and1928 at the Akademie Heimann in Munich and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.

Elmyr de Hory lived in the French capital for a few years before heading back to his home-country. As a Jewish, he was incarcerated in a German concentration camp within a year during the Holocaust.

Elmyr de HoryHomage to Maurice Vlaminck
Oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm
signed “Vlaminck” on the bottom right and by Elmyr on the back.
This work will be offered during the auction.

He moved back to Paris after World War II, yet encountered difficulties earning a living as an artist. De Hory started selling his own creations, which were done in the style of other artists. In 1946, a rich acquaintance visiting his Paris studio admired a drawing that he had made in the style of Pablo Picasso and proposed to purchase it. De Hory sold it to her, fully aware that she believed it was a Picasso. The artist claimed that this was the starting point of his career in forgery.

He sold “Picasso drawings” successfully in England, Holland, Switzerland, and Scandinavia before traveling to Rio de Janeiro where he spent a year.

Elmyr de HoryHomage to Georges Rouault
Oil on canvas, 61 x 46 cm
Top right “Rouault” and in the frame “Elmyr”.
This work will be offered during the auction.

After arriving in New York on a three-month tourist visa in 1947, de Hory lived illegally in the United States for 12 years. He sold his pieces to galleries and museums across the United States. The Niveau Gallery in New York bought his first forged Amedeo Modigliani painting. He started using different pseudonyms to sell the works and avoid suspicion.

Elmyr de HoryPortrait of a Woman, in the style of Amedeo Modigliani, ca. 1955
Oil on canvas
Collection of Scott Richter and Pamela Richter-Lenon

De Hory formed a business partnership with Fernand Legros and Real Lessard, two art dealers, in 1959.  

After concluding that Legros was taking most of the profits from artworks sales, de Hory ended their business partnership in 1960 and return to Europe. He met Legros unexpectedly in Paris, who convinced him to do business again. 

Fernand Legros, 1979.

Fernando Legros sold over 40 forgeries to Texas millionaire Algur Meadows, who later discovered the fraud and exposed de Hory as the artist behind the counterfeit works. Because of the scandal, Legros fled to Brazil and de Hory sought refuge in Ibiza. Let’s note that Legros sold many counterfeit artworks by Elmyr de Hory in Brazil.

Fernand Legros, photographed by François Lochon-Gamma.

In 1968, he was imprisoned for two months in Ibiza, not for art forgery, which was difficult to prove, but for “consorting with criminal elements, having no visible means of support, and homosexuality.” Following his release, he was banished from the island for a year.

Elmyr de HoryWoman at Table
in the style of Henri Matisse, ca. 1975.
Oil on canvas.

In the autumn of 1969, precisely two months after his return to Ibiza, he met Mark Forgy, who became is companion.

In the autumn of 1969, precisely two months after his return to Ibiza, he met Mark Forgy, who became is companion.

He was a media darling known for his bad-boy image during this period, especially after the release of Clifford Irving‘s popular biography Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time in 1969.

In 1974, Orson Welles realised a documentary essay film about Elmyr de Hory, titled F for Fake.

In 1974, Orson Welles realised a documentary essay film about Elmyr de Hory, titled F for Fake.

It is noteworthy that some art forgers are now being considered as part of Art History. An exhibition dedicated to de Hory, titled “The Secret World of Art Forger Elmyr de Hory: His Portraiture on Ibiza” took place in 2020 at the Hillstrom Museum of Art in St. Peter (United States).

A line of oil portraits from 1970-74 by Elmyr de Hory at the Hillstrom Museum exhibition.

Mark Forgy, at the Hillstrom Museum, with Elmyr de Hory’s Portrait of Mark Forgy (1969).

On December 1976, in Ibiza, Mark Forgy, Elmyr de Hory’s companion and bodyguard, informed him that the Spanish government would extradite de Hory to France. Shortly afterward, de Hory committed suicide…

 Elmyr de HoryHomage to Fernand Léger.
Oil on canvas, 60 x 50 cm.
Top left: “Fernand Léger” and in the “Elmyr” frame
This work will be offered during the auction.

As far as the value of works by Elmyr de Hory on the art market is concerned, they rarely fetch more than $10.000. His auction record is $11.000 (HP) for Women on a Veranda, Tahiti (after Gauguin). Also, his highest turnover (year by year, at auction) was $64.400 in 2000.

Elmyr de HoryWomen on a veranda, Tahiti.
Oil on board, 50.8 x 64.8 cm.
Sold for $11.000 (October 2005, Charlton Hall Galleries, Columbia SC)

New forensic techniques have made it easier to identify Elmyr de Hory’s forgeries today. Despite this, a number of his allegations cannot be proven. He was at his time an iconic figure, the media bad-boy hero.

Forgeries are an integral element in art history, as they reveal the market and the value attributed to these artists at a time. This concerns a specific period. In fact, there are forgeries by Elmyr de Hory that reproduce works by artists such as Vlaminck and Rouault, who are no longer highly rated on the art market.

In his book False Impressions: The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes, Thomas Hoving, the former director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum, stated that 40% of the displayed artworks were forgeries.

 All the Elmyr de Hory’s artworks available at auction

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