• • • InCoRM Remarks

Regarding Andréi Nakov’s claims in his Right of Reply, he says that he has been a “university professor since 1970”. Based on its research, InCoRM can assert that the university positions held by Andréi Nakov were the following:

— 1969. City College, New York, Teaching Assistant, 6 months approximately. Contract not renewed.

1970-71. University of Montreal, Visiting Lecturer, 1 year. Contract not renewed.

In 1980s. Université de Paris VI, for 6 months, approx. Contract not renewed.

Regarding the “chair” he says he “recently obtained”, Mr Nakov refused to supply to InCoRM details of the date of the appointment and the university. InCoRM learned directly from the Foundation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme that such a chair would be an invitation for one year to give lectures at a designated institution, funded by the Foundation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, where no teaching takes place. An email letter from the Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme of 23 May 2014 reads: “Je fais suite à votre appel à l’instant et vous confirme que M. Andréi Nakov n’a pas de chaire au Collège d’études mondiales de la FMSH.” / “I follow up your telephone call and confirm that Mr Andréi Nakov does not have a chair at the College of World Studies at the FMSH.”

InCoRM was unable to find any mention of Mr Nakov “on the website of University of Paris-Diderot”.

According to information obtained by InCoRM, the ruling of “non lieu” / “dismissed” refers to a Geneva Court ruling of 1995. In a subsequent ruling of the Penal Chamber, Geneva, 27April 2001, not mentioned by Andréi Nakov but implied by his reference to “14 years of proceedings”,it is stated that an exhibition devoted to the Russian painter, Mikhail Larionov, was organised on the initiative of Andréi Boris Nakov and shown at the Museum of Art and History of the City of Geneva from 10 March to 24 April 1989. As of the date of 2001, the Court ruled that “183 works listed under consideration were falsely attributed to Mikhail Larionov”, therefore “a stamp in indelible blue ink of 5.5 cm. x 4 cm.” should be placed on the back of each of these works and should read as follows: “This work appeared in the exhibition, “Mikhail Larionov : La voie vers l’abstraction” in Frankfurt, Bologne and Geneva, 1987-1988, and was declared fake on the dates of 24, 28 and 29 March 2001 by the experts Stern, Von Wiese and Venturelli, named by the Penal Chamber of the Court of Justice of Geneva”. Further, a website was ordered to be created on which 187 works were to be reproduced front and back with this statement shown on the backs of the works and the penal procedures described. This website has not been published to date. The court “condemns” the “costs of the procedure, which comprises the costs of the expertise” to be paid by the defendants in the sum of 80,783 Swiss francs.

Stated in the ruling of 25 June 2013, the Court of Appeal in Paris withdrew the moral right from the Alexandra Exter Association due to the withholding of information from the judge and so having obtained the moral right over the work of Alexandra Exter “in a fraudulent manner”. The “artist’s archives” consist of less than 10 letters between Alexandra Exter and Simon Lissim, Y. Anziani and Simon Lissim, and Simon Lissim and Andréi Nakov, a copy of the last will and testament of Alexandra Exter, and transport documents of works shipped to Simon Lissim. This case is again in litigation.

In reference to Mr Nakov’s last sentence, InCoRM asks: If he hadn’t or didn’t, how could Mr Nakov declare that there are “works falsely attributed with invented provenances and deceptive certificates” or, in Andréi Nakov’s own translation from his French text, “Andréi Nakov, is not the author of all claims related to incorrectly attributed works, with false provenance, and misleading certificates.”

Admin., 19 June / 22 July 2014



On the InCoRM Forum, “German Raids of June 2013” was published on 31 January 2014. Mentioned was Andrei Boris Nakov who, through his lawyer, presented the following as his Right of Reply. It is published here in full. The English translation of his Reply in all its details is provided by Andréi Nakov.

“Monsieur Nakov entend utilser son droit de réponse:

“Monsieur Andréi Nakov entend répondre aux allégations le concernant relayées sur le Forum de INCORM association fondée en 2008.

“Andréi Nakov est bien professeur d’université et ce, depuis 1970. Il a obtenu récemment une chaire à la Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme dont il est membre associé.

“Monsieur Nakov n‘a jamais été condamné par les Cours Européennes, sa probité est intact. Après 14 années de procédure, les oeuvres attribuées à Larionov ont été restituées à leurs propriétaire, tandis que lui-meme a obtenu un jugement de non lieu. En revanche Monsieur Nakov a fait condammer le journal qui l’avait accusé d’avoir organisé une exposition de faux Larionov.

“Monsieur Nakov déplore qu’une association d’experts telle que l’INCORM diffuse une information tronquée sur cette affaire.

“L’Association Alexandra Exter, fondée et présidée par Andréi Nakov, existe depuis 2000. C’est l’Association Alexandra Exter qui est désignée par la Justice pour défendre le droit moral de l’artiste Alexandra Exter depuis 2012. Son mandat a été renouvelé en 2013 et encore en 2014. Monsieur Nakov agit à ses côtés car il détient toutes les archives de l’artiste Alexandra Exter.

“L’arrêt rendu par la Cour d’Appel de Paris le 25 juin 2013 a fait l’objet d’un pourvoi devant la Cour de Cassation, l’INCORM a omis de le mentionner. En dépit de l’arrêt rendu le 25 juin 2013, l’Association a vu son mandat renouvelé le 7 janvier 2014 et l’action conduite contre le mandat obtenu en 2013, rejetée le 16 janvier 2014 par décision du Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris.

“L’action de l’Association Alexandra Exter perdure.

“Si l’Association Alexandra Exter suit scrupuleusement le marché des oeuvres attribuées à Alexandra Exter, son Président, Monsieur Andréi Nakov n‘est pas, pour autant, à l’initiative de toutes les saisies ou plaintes concernant les oeuvres faussement attribuées, avec des provenances inventées et des certificats trompeurs.”



“Mr Nakov intends to use his right of reply.

“Mr Andréi Nakov intends to respond to the allegations about him, related to the Forum of InCoRM, association founded in 2008.

“Andréi Nakov is an university professor since 1970. He recently received a professorship at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, University Paris-Diderot to which he belongs as stated on the website of this school.

“Mr Nakov has never been condembed by any European Court, his integrity is unspoiled. After 14 years of litigation, the works attributed to Larionov were returned to their owners, the case has been dismissed. However, Mr. Nakov did condemn the newspaper which had accused him for organizing an exhibition of fake Larionovs.

“Mr Nakov regrets that INCORM association of experts continues to diffuse false information about this case.

“Alexandra Exter Association, founded and chaired by Andréi Nakov exists since 2000. In 2012 the Alexandra Exter Association was designated by the French Court to defend the moral rights of the artist Alexandra Exter. This mandate was renewed on 2013 and in 2014. Mr Nakov acts within the moral rights because he is entrusted with custody of the artist’s archives.

“INCORM failed to mention that the judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal of June 25, 2013 was subject to an appeal before the Court of Cassation which was dully filed. Despite the judgment of June 25, 2013, the Association’s mandate has been renewed by the Court of Paris on Junuary 7, 2014 and the action against the madate obtained in 2013, has been dismissed on January 16, 2014 by a decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris.

“The Alexandra Exter Association’s action continues.

“Whereas the Alexandra Exter Association strictly follows the market of works attributed to Alexandra Exter, its President, Andréi Nakov, is not the author of all claims related to incorrectly attributed works, with false provenance, and misleading certificates.”

19 June 2014

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InCoRM learned last week that the raids on Russian Avant-Garde collectors and galleries in Germany by the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) on 12 June 2013 were instigated on the basis of allegations supplied to the German authorities by the Paris-based art historian, Andréi Boris Nakov, according to an officer of the BKA. This would now explain why State Prosecutors and the BKA have been taking the advice on paintings from Mr Nakov who, to date, is known to have declared over 30 paintings to be “fake”, mostly on photographs only. According to a letter of January 2014 from the office of one of the State Prosecutors to the owner of a seized work, the “case is closed” due to “insufficient evidence” and the work will be returned. In apparent contradiction to this, a letter from the BKA, also of January 2014, takes as sufficient evidence “the opinion of Prof. Dr Nakov” (a misnomer since he has no professorship) who pronounced this same work as “obviously fake” and as a consequence states that the work will be posted on their database as “dubious”. This decision is in flagrant disregard for the fact that the work has scientific and art historical opinions from recognised experts and an excellent provenance. In addition and known to them, the German authorities are relying on the opinion of someone who has been condemned by European courts. Mr Nakov authenticated and organised an exhibition in three public museums of nearly 200 fake works which he attributed to Mikhail Larionov (Geneva, Cour de Justice, PS115/95,  ACJP 121/01, 27 April 2001), and he was also accused by the French courts of making “fraudulent claims” to having  the moral right over the art of Alexandra Exter (Cour d’Appel de Paris, Arrêt du 25 June 2013 No. 421, Numéro d’inscription au répertoire général 12/21691). But Mr Nakov does not just have the ear of German authorities, he also caught those of a few individuals, who wish to remain anonymous, when he is reported to have said about the fine and well known Russian Avant-Garde collection of Moscow banker, Piotr Aven, that “it is full of fakes”.

Admin. 1 February 2014

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Return to Sender

The Paris art historian, Andréi Nakov, took part in an interview, together with the German art historian, Hans Peter Riese, the German scientist, Erhard Jägers, and others broadcast on the German radio station, HRinfo, on 25 June 2013. Responding to a question about fakes, Mr Nakov said that he had “become so tired of photographs of fakes being sent to his email address that he no longer even bothered to look at them and simply pressed, ‘Return to Sender’.” Is this really a professional approach to the work of art – to pass judgement on works from computer photographs in the best case or not to look at the image at all in the worst case? Is Mr Nakov attempting to establish credibility by an appeal to his authority, expecting the world to just believe him, no proofs needed? Every museum in the world requires art historical documentation, with scientific analyses becoming increasingly demanded, before they consider buying a work of art. So is “no proofs needed” an attempt to give credence to a counter culture proclaimed by an individual in order to discredit the historical and scientific documentation in which lie the real proofs, not to mention the authority of the work itself? Would any truly professional person in the world deny these fundamental requirements as the basis for assessing the work of art? Would any truly professional person in the world pass over these requirements and pronounce on a work of art? To slander a work of art is no different than slandering a person and in particular those who have investigated it and whose expertise is professional and informed.

Admin. 5 July 2013  


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Andréi Nakov Loses Moral Rights Over Alexandra Exter

The Cours d’Appel de Paris / Appeal Court in Paris ruled on 25 June 2013 (Order 12/21691) that the Alexandra Exter Association and its President, Andréi Nakov, would not hold the moral rights to Alexandra Exter. The order was made in favour of the plaintiff, Igor Toporovsky, of Brussels, who had loaned several of his canvases to the exhibition, ALEXANDRA EXTER, held in the Chateau Musée in the city of Tours, January-March 2009. The order states that Mr Nakov had originally obtained the moral right over the art of Alexandra Exter “in a fraudulent manner” and that as a result the court ordered that the Alexandra Exter Association and its President, Mr Nakov, to each pay 5,000 euros to Mr Toporovsky as well as all court costs. In addition, a decision of the court in Tours on 10 June 2013 officially recognised the authenticity of Mr Toporovsky’s paintings, together with their provenances, and ordered their restitution to the collector.

Admin 28 June 2013

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What InCoRM is

InCoRM has received enquiries from journalists about what InCoRM is, its aims and purpose, how it is funded, what art historical opinions consist of and if they are the same as “authentications” of works of art. As a complement to what can be seen on the InCoRM website, “About InCoRM” where its Code of Good Practice is also found, this statement clarifies and amplifies what InCoRM is. It is followed by “The Art Historian’s ‘Opinion’ – Principles of Expertise”.

• InCoRM is an independent non-profit organisation concerned with cultural and scientific interests. InCoRM is not involved in or linked to the art market in any way whatsoever.

• InCoRM is a loosely knit organisation founded by art historians and scientists. They are united by their pursuits in Russian Modernism and several are actively engaged in the integration of history and scientific investigation in the scholarly enquiry into works of art. The aim is to facilitate research and to expand and share knowledge.

• The specialists make up the core of those working in this field and are internationally known and recognised for their excellence. Being a specialist member of InCoRM is a mark of the highest academic and professional standards.

• Excluded from InCoRM are those who claim to be specialists but who either authenticate works of art determined by financial or vested interests, or who denounce as “fakes” works of art they have never seen and about which they cannot claim to know anything factual, always unable to give a convincing or professional defence of their unsubstantiated allegations. Individuals in both these groups are involved in the art market. They are the critics of InCoRM.

• InCoRM specialists do not authenticate works of art although they may act as historical or scientific consultants to museums, collectors or galleries around the world. Under French law (InCoRM being a non-profit organisation registered in France) an authentication is a legal guarantee that a work of art is genuine. InCoRM specialists, on the other hand, carry out research on works of art and, based on scientific and art historical information, may express an “opinion” about a work of art. An opinion is not an authentication or a guarantee. Whatever opinion they may give, always based on fact and fully justified, is done in the name of the individual specialist, never in the name of InCoRM.

• InCoRM does not authenticate works of art because it is an organisation founded not as a guarantee for the art market but for research.

• To fulfil its purpose and its status as a non-profit organisation, InCoRM’s activity is the progressive compiling of an encyclopaedic website on the history and documentation of Russian Modernism. It is freely available, made possible by the support of Affiliate Members – museums, collectors and galleries. The website – www.incorm.org – is complemented by investigative and scholarly articles published in the JOURNAL OF INCORM.

• When necessary, InCoRM will be a voice in the defence of Russian Modernism, which is found on this FORUM. In the confusion over the genuineness of Russian Avant-Garde works of art, the research of specialists is setting new standards, both scientific and historical, that provide reliable and professional means for determining what is true and what is false.

And if, as one reads in the press, the temptation to forgers is due in part to the political history of Russia in the 20th century and the resulting gaps in our knowledge of Russian Modernism, together with the consequent lack of provenances as a traceable history, the research and gathering of information in the work of specialists can make an important contribution to the protection of the art against forgeries on the one hand, and to their detection on the other hand.

Patricia Railing, PhD

25 June 2013

The Art Historian’s “Opinion”

Principles of Expertise

In the current scare about fakes contaminating the world of the Russian Avant-Garde, the art historian is sometimes being called an “expert” in the German press. There are all manner of speculative (and sometimes misinformed) remarks about what they do and whether or not they have been duped by artworks, unable to tell the difference between an original and a fake, or by falsified documents.

Responsible art historians who express their opinions about Russian Avant-Garde works are bound by a rigorous set of principles which they apply in determining whether a work of art is by a given artist or not. They are like DETECTIVES who are working with their knowledge of art and their knowledge of history in order TO DISCOVER. They are engaged in researching all the factors that would contribute to establishing what makes up the artistic characteristics and chronology of a given artist’s body of work in a historical context. Their premise is an open mind, uncluttered by prejudice or preconceived ideas, not to mention vested interests of whatever kind whether, in favour, or, not in favour, of a work being genuine.

So to clarify these principles for both journalists and the general public, presented below is a brief outline of the principles which the art historian relies on to lead to a truthful assessment about a work of art, whether in museums and private collections or when it has previously been unknown.

1. The Art Historian Examines the Work of Art in Person. Attention is given to the paint surface, to the back of the canvas, to the stretcher if it is original, to whatever marks may be found on the back such as bleeding of pigments or glue, labels, stamps, signatures or other notations, to the nails and their condition where the stretcher may be thought to be original, to the condition of the canvas. Finally, the art historian studies the work itself as structure and colour, together with all the creative aspects of it, and mentally compares it to other known works by the supposed artist.

2. The Scientific Report. There must be a scientific report done by a laboratory which is known to the art historian and has an experienced reputation in the analysis of Russian Avant-Garde works. This scientific report must consider the following:

  • Pigment analysis showing that the pigments found are contemporary to the period in which the work of art is intended to have been executed.
  • Even Polymerisation, or bonding, of the binding materials. Uneven bonding indicates false ageing. This includes signatures which, if recently applied, disappear under infrared reflectography.
  • Analysis of Paint Layers and Craquelure. Paint layers reveal the characteristics of how an artist lays in paint in the various stages of creating a painting. Craquelure reveals patterns of stress due to molecular differences or chemical incompatibility of pigments, mechanical damage (knocking, for example), or conditions of storage (as dampness). False damage is easy to identify.
  • Underdrawings and Underpainting reveal aspects of the creative process.
  • Canvas and Stretcher. Analysis of the canvas reveals its condition, treatments (glue, for example), natural ageing or attempts to make it appear old, and so on. On the stretcher may be attached labels, incisions or other information.

3. Art Historical Factors. Art history is made up of two components: the artistic and the historical.

  • The Artistic Factors. The art historian needs to be aware of the creative processes of a given painter and the scientific report provides information about the pigments, paint application (smooth or impasto, gestures, layering, and so on), the way canvas may be nailed to a stretcher, the application of grounds, their pigments and colours, whether and when the painter may paint wet on dry (the ground having dried) or wet on wet, and so on. This information may also contribute to placing a work in a creative context and so to dating it. Based on the artistic factors, the art historian attempts to discover where the work in question occurs in the artistic process as, say, an oil sketch or a finished piece for exhibition, where the work in question fits into the artist’s stylistic chronology, as, say, an early or a late work.
    All these factors of technique make up an artist’s technical “signature” at any given moment. Put together, they help to establish a pattern or outline of an artist’s studio practice over time and bring to light the different phases of the creative chronology. The artistic factors lead to a history of the artistic. This is a new science that is only just beginning to be practised by art historians and this is due to the increasing in-depth information that scientific instruments used in the analysis of works of art can provide.
    It is clear that the art historian must be highly informed about the creative process of an artist by being familiar with what scientific investigation reveals, and by having seen and studied many, many works of art.

  • The Historical Factors. The Artistic Factors are the basis for the historical determination of what typifies how an artist progressed through different styles. There are also the various historical factors of preparatory drawings or other related work, exhibition history, date of the work, archival documents, relationships with other artists and sharing of artistic ideas, sources of ideas, writings, social and political factors, provenance where it exists. These factors may contribute varying degrees of pertinent and relevant information in the understanding of an artist’s overall artistic history and the assessment of a given work of art.

4. Assimilating the Artistic and Historical Factors into a Whole. Drawing together all the factors is dependent on the art historian having seen many works over the artist’s creative career. Judgements about an artist’s works must be based on a maximum of information and research; where either is lacking then the art historian is not able to pronounce on a work of art. The throw-away allegations of “fake” pronounced by individuals and published in the press (or spread about as rumour, i.e., unverified) are slanderous and damage works of art; they reveal the accuser’s lack of professionalism and lack of knowledge. Art historians have the task and the duty to raise the authority of the informed “Opinion”. What is set out here can be a guide to establishing an international standard for the “Opinion”.

Although some art historians may certify that a work of art is “authentic”, which under French law is a legal undertaking and a guarantee of a work’s genuineness, most art historians prefer to give “opinions”, which should be evidence of research into the work in question; it is not a legal guarantee. Opinions, or expertises, are based on having seen the work, on scientific reports about the work, and on artistic and historical information and knowledge arising from in-depth familiarity with an artist’s body of work. All these factors combine to justify the art historian’s opinion about whether a work of art is by a given artist or not, by his or her students or not, or not of the style and period at all.

InCoRM, 27 June 2013

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