Thu, 10 Mar 2005

On paintings

In his letter to the editor dated March 3, Christopher Deutscher writes that in an article in The Jakarta Post I alleged that two Hofker paintings sold by the Deutscher-Menzies were forgeries. As anyone who read the article will note, this is not true in spite of the overly sensational title.

The aim of my article was twofold, first as the leading expert on the work of Willem Hofker to analytically explain why in my opinion the paintings needed further study to determine their authenticity, and secondly to point out the need of an independent body of experts to protect Indonesian collectors from a growing number of sophisticated forgeries.

It is unfortunate that rather than sticking to the facts and presenting proof to remove any doubts, Deutscher has instead chosen to emotionally accuse both the Post and I of having recklessly caused damage to the reputation of his auction house and a great Australian national hero.

Regardless of this and to avoid any further misunderstandings I wish to apologize for any offence given. I must, however, protest the idea that it was wrong for either me to write, or the Post to print, my concerns in a public forum. In addition I wish to state unequivocally that there is no reason to condemn the works in question before examining all relevant information and the paintings physically.

As an act of goodwill, I would like to offer to do so without any charge and submit a written opinion of the results to be published in the Post. While I do not doubt the integrity of either the Deutscher-Menzies auction house or Deutscher, I am under the impression that that their greatest experience is not in the field of Indonesian art. If they wish to continue in the future they might consider seeking the advice of independent experts to protect all parties and avoid future controversies.