Hans van Meegeren
Hans van Meegeren duped a string of wealthy collectors into paying vast sums for fake artwork of the Old Masters. One victim was Reichsmarschall Herman Goering.
by Robert Walsh
When many people are asked to name a selection of truly master criminals they’ll probably come up with the usual suspects: Jack the Ripper, Charles Ponzi, notorious English highwayman Dick Turpin or maybe legendary Australian bushranger Ned Kelly. One name that’s highly unlikely to appear is possibly the greatest (and certainly the boldest) art forger in criminal history, Hans van Meegeren.
Van Meegeren was born in October, 1889 in the Dutch town of Delft, the same town as the equally legendary artist Johannes Vermeer, a 17th century master. Van Meegeren, like any aspiring local artist, was a fan of Vermeer and was keen to become Delft’s other big name in the art world. He succeeded, but in a way that even the most inventive crime fiction writers couldn’t possibly have dreamt up.