John Myatt’s colourful life as a ‘convicted art forger made good’ has Hollywood movie written all over it. And the story of how, as an art teacher in Staffordshire, he was left to raise two children under the age of three when his wife left, and how he gave in to the lure of big money for faking the work of major artists, is in development by a major film studio. He’s not allowed to say which A-lister is in the frame to play him, but the brush strokes will be all his own. ‘I have been contracted to produce all the paintings for the film,’ says John, 65, and the subject of a six-part TV series in which he re-creates famous masterpieces using celebrities as sitters.
|JULIA BRADBURY AS VENUS AT A MIRROR BY PETER PAUL RUBENS|
|STEPHEN FRY AS POPE INNOCENT X BY DIEGO VELAZQUEZ|
His career as ‘faker’ began in 1983 when he placed an ad in Private Eye offering ‘genuine fakes’ for £150 (these were not replicas but works that Chagall, Monet or Picasso et al might have painted ‘if they had had time’, as Myatt puts it). In 1986 a customer, John Drewe, rang him to say that one of his works (in the style of Cubist painter Albert Gleizes) had been valued by Sotheby’s at £25,000, and asked if he wanted half the money. The offer was too good to resist and the pair went on to pass off 200 more fakes over seven years. Both were convicted of fraud and received jail sentences.