The Secret World of Art Forger Elmyr de Hory: His Portraiture on Ibiza, on view at the Hillstrom Museum of Art from February 17 through April 19, 2020March 3, 2020

Time: March 3, 2020

The Hillstrom Museum of Art presents The Secret World of Art Forger Elmyr de Hory: His Portraiture on Ibiza, on view February 17 through April 19, 2020, with an opening reception Monday, February 17, 7:00-9:00 p.m., and a related public lecture March 22, starting at 3:30 p.m. in Björling Recital Hall.


Hungarian-born artist Elmyr de Hory (1906-1976) is infamous as one of history’s most notorious art forgers, who created hundreds of fakes in the style of modern masters such as Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and others.  De Hory also was active in portraiture, depicting countless close friends, acquaintances, and people he briefly encountered in Ibiza, Spain, where he lived in his villa, La Falaise.

Mark Forgy, who became de Hory’s close friend and eventual heir after they met in Ibiza in 1969, has lent nearly 60 portraits for this exhibition from his personal collection, most of them inherited after the artist’s death by suicide and many never shown before.  Forgy notes that the artist’s true passion in life was less his art and more the interactions the bon vivant had with people.  The oil paintings, watercolors, and drawings in this exhibit depict a range of subjects, from unidentified and handsome young men to famed actress Ursula Andress and Spanish aristocrats.  Several lovingly-depicted images of Forgy are also included, as is a masterful self-portrait.

Forgy, who appeared in Orson Welle’s 1974 film F for Fake about de Hory, is the author of a 2012 memoir titled The Forger’s Apprentice: Life with the World’s Most Notorious Artist.  He has lectured extensively on his friend and will present a public lecture in conjunction with this exhibit, which is the first in-depth consideration of the artist’s portraiture.  The lecture, titled “The Secret Life of Elmyr de Hory: His Struggle to Emerge from Infamy,” is scheduled for Sunday, March 22, starting at 3:30 p.m., in Björling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College.

The Secret World of Art Forger Elmyr de Hory: His Portraiture on Ibiza is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue available to visitors to the Museum free of charge.

Regular hours for the Hillstrom Museum of Art are weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  As with all programs of the Museum, the exhibit, its opening reception, and the lecture by Forgy are free and open to the public.  For further information, see


For those interested in further exploration of the story of Elmyr de Hory, there are numerous resources.

In 1969, a short time before de Hory and Mark Forgy met, a book titled Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time appeared, written by Clifford Irving—chiefly remembered for his own instance of forgery, a fake biography of Howard Hughes that was to have been published in 1972. Irving’s book on de Hory led to articles in Look and Life magazines (December 10, 1968 and February 6, 1970, respectively), as well as to a 1970 BBC documentary by French director François Reichenbach titled Elmyr: The True Picture?, and F for Fake, a 1973 film by the great Orson Welles about de Hory and the nature of faking (Forgy appears in both the BBC film and the one by Welles).  A 1997 film by Norwegian Knut Jorfald titled Masterpiece or Forgery? The Story of Elmyr de Hory is, according to Forgy (who appears in it as well), problematic in its off-base speculation about the true identity of de Hory.

The Forgy Collection was the basis of an earlier exhibition at the Hillstrom Museum of Art titled Elmyr de Hory, Artist and Faker (2010; its catalogue is available on the Museum webpage). Following that exhibit, in 2012 Forgy, who is acknowledged as the expert on de Hory, published his memoir of their time together, The Forger’s Apprentice: Life with the World’s Most Notorious Artist. It was adapted as a play that debuted in summer of 2013 and as a full-length musical that appeared in 2015 (the play was co-written with Kevin Bowen, and the musical was written by Forgy, Bowen, and C. S. McNerlin).

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