The Tiara of Saitaferne - Famous Fakes and Frauds

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The Tiara of Saitaferne is a tiara in gold sheet, acquired by the Louvre Museum in 1896, afterwards shown to be a fake.

On April 1, 1896, the Louvre announced that it had purchased a gold tiara that had belonged to the Scythian king, Saitapharnes. The museum had purchased the priceless artifact for a mere 200,000 gold French francs. A Greek inscription on the tiara read 'The council and citizens of Olbia honour the great and invincible King Saitapharnes'. To the experts at the Louvre, the tiara confirmed an episode dating to the late 3rd-century B.C. or early 2nd-century B.C. According to the story, Saitapharnes had besieged the Greek colony of Olbia and was convinced to leave the city in peace only through the offering of expensive gifts.

Shortly after the Louvre exhibited the tiara, a number of experts challenged it's authenticity. Among them was the German archaeologist Adolf Furtwangler who noted stylistic problems with the tiara's design and questioned the lack of aging apparent on the artifact. For several years, the Louvre defended the authenticity of its treasure. Eventually, news of the story reached Odessa.

Two years before the Louvre made its purchase, two dealers had commissioned Israel Rouchomovsky, a skilled goldsmith, to make the tiara. They explained that it was a gift for an archaeologist friend and provided Rouchomovsky with details from recent excavations to aid his design. It wasn't until news of the Louvre scandal reached him that Rouchomovsky learned of the fate of his creation. He travelled to Paris and presented himself as the maker of the tiara. Experts at the museum refused to believe him until he demonstrated the ability to reproduce a portion of the crown. Embarrassed, the museum hid the object away in storage. Rouchomovsky, on the other hand, became famous for his work and earned a gold medal at the Paris Salon of Decorative Arts. He lived in Paris until his death in 1934.

In 1997, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem borrowed the infamous Tiara of Saitapharnes from the Louvre for a special exhibition on the work of Israel Rouchomovsky. The crown had come full circle -- from work of art, to embarrassing forgery, and back to work of art.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiara_of_Saitaferne

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