The "false" van Gogh
receeding in Musée d'Orsay in Paris

This painting hanging in one of the finest museums in the world
is not an original Vincent van Gogh
(Musée d'Orsay, Paris)
(Look at the original and the copy side by side)

Vincent van Gogh painted in Auvers 1890 the portrait of the psychiatrist Dr. Paul-Ferdinand Gachet (1828 - 1909) shortly before he died. One hundred years later, in July 1990, that particular painting was sold for 75 million American dollars, a record which lasted for 10 years until may 2004, where another fantastic sum was achieved for Pablo Picasso’s Garcon a la pipe (Boy with his pipe) which was sold for 93 million dollars plus Sotheby’s 10 percent salary (fee).

The painting “Dr. Gachet” was bought by the Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito who died in 1996. Since that no one has laid eyes upon van Gogh’s painting, Saito put forward the threat that he was going to burn it!!. Whether he did so, nobody knows.

In 1949 Dr. Gachet's son, Paul Gachet Jr. (1873-1962), who carried his father’s name gave away not a reproduction but an asserted recopy (another presumed genuine work) of his father’s painting “Dr. Gachet”. It now resides in the Museé d’Orsay in Paris and is considered to be a genuine work from the hand of Vincent van Gogh.

But it is not. It is a work done by an amateur and far from van Gogh's fresh style of painting.  The expressive form is wake, it lacks the charisma as seen from the master’s own hand. Any one knowing just a little about art, should easily see that this is not a van Gogh, this is not his characteristic lumped way of painting. The background is dead and build up schematically the eyes as well as the whole face are without character, soulless. Much could point in the direction that Dr. Gachet did it himself. He was a middle-class painter, had some exhibitions under the pseudonym Paul van Ryssel, and he did portraits, Still-life (Stillleben) and landscapes. He was known for copying famous artists from that époque. The latter’s best auction price reached $5000.

The Musée d'Orsay in Paris

© Preben Juul Madsen