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Andy Warhol, Billy Name and David Bourdon on the"forged" Andy Warhol paintings that were actually by Gerard Malanga

See also: Matt Wrbican, ... trapped like a rat in Rome - The Che Guevara Episode, Andy Warhol Museum Archives Center exhibition number 24, December 18, 2005 - August 6, 2006)

David Bourdon:

"While in Rome, Malanga, running short on money, forged a series of 'Warhols' - silk screened images based on a news photograph of the dead Cuban leader Che Guevara. He made two phony paintings, gave one to a girlfriend and offered the other for sale - priced at $3,000 - through a Rome gallery; in a February 1968 exhibition at that gallery, he also showed signed and numbered silkscreen prints from an edition of fifty, priced at fifty dollars. When the dealer sought to verify the provenance of the 'Warhol' Guevaras, Malanga wrote to Warhol, explaining that if the works were not authenticated, the poet would be 'denounced - Italian style' and thrown into jail. Malanga enclosed a newspaper review of the show, commenting, 'Andy, this is the first time that your art work has been praised by the Communist press.' 'What nerve!' Warhol remarked. Not one to be outwitted, he wired back, authenticating the paintings but stipulating that all monies were to be sent directly to him as 'Mr. Malanga was not authorized to sell the artwork.'" (DB291)

Although Bourdon mentions fake Che Guevera portraits in the above quote, Warhol thought Malanga was also responsible for fake Electric Chairs and Flowers, as shown in the following entries from The Andy Warhol Diaries, even though Gerard denied that the fakes were his:

Andy Warhol (Wednesday December 1, 1976):

"Left to go down to the Ileana Sonnabend Gallery to the David Hockney opening... Ran into Gerard Malanga. Gerard wrote to Fred [Hughes] asking why he wouldn't let him do photography for Interview, I guess he just wants a press pass. Fred won't have anything to do with Gerard because we're still getting repercussions from all the fake Electric Chairs we think he did, they're being resold and resold and each time the money involved gets bigger, so Fred isn't about to give Gerard anything..." (AWD4)

Andy Warhol (Saturday, May 6, 1978):

"Then Arman called and said he'd sold eight Flower fakes of mine, because, he said, he didn't know they were fakes. But I said, 'You must have known or you wouldn't have hid them away for all these years, and you must have bought them cheap off somebody like Terry Ork or Soren Agenoux.' So those fakes really did damage and Gerard is still swearing up and down he didn't do them. They made my prices go down because people are now afraid to buy paintings because they feel they could be buying fakes. (AWD132)

Andy Warhol (Sunday, June 11, 1978):

Went to church, got magazines... and went to the office... because Rupert was bringing by the Flower things. I decided I won't sign the fake ones that're turning up all over Europe - the ones the people told us they bought from Gerard. Maybe I should do new ones and make good on the fakes in Europe. I don't know, I'll see." (AWD142)

Andy Warhol (Saturday, January 28, 1984):

"Wandered to the East village. Took a couple of rolls of film. Ran into Rene Ricard who's the George Sanders of the Lower East side, the Rex Reed of the art world - he was with some Puerto Rican boyfriend with a name like a cigarette... And then we went to Mary Garage. What's the name of that gallery? Gracie Mansion. On Avenue A. And there were five fakes of mine there. Electric Chairs. And some Jackson Pollock fakes. I didn't say anything." (AWD551)

Andy Warhol (Tuesday, March 12, 1985):

Went up to Sotheby's to look at the art and the lady there stopped me and asked if I had a few minutes to look at a few paintings of mine for authenticity, so I did, and one of them was on of those fake Electric Chairs, the one Gerard denies doing. A blue one. It wasn't stretched right. The people get greedy and they want a bigger picture, so it's got a border on it. They'd buy it rolled and then stretch it that way." (AWD631)

Even the New York artist Julian Schnabel had bought an Andy Warhol fake:

Andy Warhol: (Friday November 14, 1986): "Julian Schnabel came by with his little girl. We're talking about me maybe doing some different image on top of a fake of mine that he bought - one of those paintings I think Gerard Malanga did. Julian didn't know it was a fake when he bought it." (AWD774)

In his defence, Gerard Malanga gave this explanation for his Andy Warhol fakes:

Gerard Malanga:

"I left Andy in August of 1967. I got fed up with the scene. I said, 'Fuck this, I'm going to Italy.'

I bought a one-way ticket. A week before I was leaving, Andy tried to bribe me to stay: 'Oh, you can come to the premiere of The Chelsea Girls in San Francisco.' I said, 'Gee, I'm sorry, but I'm showing a film at the Bergamo Film Festival.' Andy said he knew I had a one-way ticket, if I needed money to get back to call him, he'd send it to me. He lied through his teeth. I was stranded in Europe for six months.

While I was in Rome, I was going out with a Princess, Patrizia Rippoli, who wanted me to decorate her wall with a portrait of Che Guevera. I did something Andy would've done, silkscreen a painting. The technology was unknown in Rome, so I thought I'd make one for her and me. Since we were doing a silkscreen process, I wrote him to ask if it was okay, sent some samples, said here's a way for me to make money for both us us, by you authorizing this painting, that'll pay for my plane fare, if I don't hear from you, I'll presume it's okay. I never heard from him. And I went full steam ahead, made these two paintings, and thought, Let's do paintings from A to Z, each in a different color. Patrizia introduced me to an Italian gallery dealer who arranged to have a show in Rome. Everything sold out even before the show opened, and he bragged about giving Andy his first show in Italy, and called Leo Castelli, who said, How come I don't know about this show.

By the day of the show, the gallery dealer knew something was amiss. Andy was manoeuvring behind my back to get all the proceeds, but wouldn't authorize the paintings, so they couldn't be sold. The gallery guy was breathing down my neck, because he'd advance me about $1,000, which I spent on film. So I went into hiding until I got another check cleared. I went back to NY and walked to the new Factory. Andy had moved from 47th Street to Union Square during the time I was in Rome. Everybody was shocked to see me. I sat down, hung out. Then Andy walked in. He did a double take as he passed me: 'Oh, hi. What are you doing here? I thought you were in jail.' Kind of kidding. I followed him into his back room. I explained to him - You promised the plane ticket, you never wrote, I sent you samples, asked if you don't want me to do this. But he's going through his mail as I talk. When I got to the point about my waiting for his certification, he kind of nonchalantly looked up and in a mean-spirited way said, 'You should have known better.' And then proceeded to got back to the mail. I saw the curtain come down, and said, 'I'll see you,' and left.

Two months later I was going to have my first film retrospective at the Cinematheque, through Jonas Mekas. I got Andy to put up the money for my postcard announcement - $40. I went to the Factory to pick it up. And that was the day, three minutes before I arrived, literally, that Andy got shot... When I went to visit Andy at the hospital - I was working as an extra for Midnight Cowboy, as were a number of Factory people - I went with Viva, and Andy was very grateful. But this was the weird thing. At the hospital he handed me the check for the money he was supposed to give me. For the postcard. Here was Andy recovering from being shot practically to death, and he is handing me a check for $40." (VY47)

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