Friday, April 18, 2014


by D.E.Levine

A Tribeca Film Festival 2014 selection

Mark Landis is an excellent forger.  He makes copies of famous paintings and then does the unthinkable.  Instead of selling the paintings for financial gain, Landis donates the copies to  cultural institutions that want to add to their collections.

It's not illegal to copy paintings.  Art students traditionally learn by making copies.  Landis turns out his copies by using materials from art stores.  his ability to make the forgeries seems to come easily.

Landis is not wealthy and lives and works in an overly crowded apartment.  He exhibits no interest in financial gain from these paintings.  Instead, Landis likes to be a philantropist and donate the paintings. Sometimes he makes multiple copies of a painting and donates the copies to different institutions.  Amazingly, since curators are supposed to keep current on art works, Landis managed to dupe many famed museums.

Over the three decades that he's been forging and donating paintings, Landis has only attracted the attention of one official.  The official, Matthew Leininger, takes a personal interest in ending Landis' "career".

Soft spoken and unassuming, Landis makes no effort to extort money and his ongoing activities continually anger Leninger.

In the end, instead of being punished for being a forger, Landis is, in a sense rewarded as a cultural institution builds a large art show around Landis' work.

Audience members will have mixed emotions about Landis who shows no remorse but basks in the attention that his "philanthropy has created.