What if a forged copy of the famed Mona Lisa portrait were in the Louvre, and the real Da Vinci masterpiece were hanging right here in a lovely café in Greenwich Village? Considering the difficulties of a close-up look at the oil painting hanging in a distant Paris museum the version in the Louvre might as well be a fake, especially when one of the premier masterpiece forgers has his own version of Mona hanging up right here in the neighborhood.
Think Coffee, located at 248 Mercer Street has a forged version of the Mona Lisa, in this case called the “Fauxna Lisa,” hanging in its shop, which even experts would be hard-pressed to differentiate. And why would that be? That is because this New York copy was done by pre-eminent art forger Mark Landis.
On sale for a sweet $25,000, a price which attests to the skill with which Fauxna Lisa was rendered, this painting could be considered a masterpiece in its own right, even if it does look exactly like the original.
Landis forged his reputation composing artworks which are such amazing spitting images of the originals that he was able to hand them off to a list of over 40 museums, one of them being the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery. The story of his career was brought to the screen in the documentary “Art and Craft” which was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.
In 2010 Landis’ forgeries were exposed, but he was not arrested. That is because he never took money for his work- they were all donations to the institutions that were led astray. As a matter of fact, when Fauxna Lisa is finally sold, the $25,000 asking price will be donated to the Lauren Rogers Museum in Laurel, Mississippi, Landis’ hometown, and one of Landis’ victims of his amazing forging skills.