Prosecutors: Picture is real S. Korean artist: It's a fake

Members of the prosecutors' team holding a copy of Beautiful Woman in Seoul on Monday. Before her death last year, the artist repeatedly insisted the 1971 portrait was not one of hers.
Members of the prosecutors' team holding a copy of Beautiful Woman in Seoul on Monday. Before her death last year, the artist repeatedly insisted the 1971 portrait was not one of hers.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEOUL • A painting attributed to one of South Korea's most renowned artists has been declared genuine by state prosecutors, despite the insistence of the late artist herself that it was a fake.

The painting, Beautiful Woman, by Chun Kyung Ja has been the focus of a bizarre, decades-long dispute over its authenticity, and Monday's announcement by the prosecutors looks unlikely to end the matter, with Chun's family vowing to pursue efforts to have it declared a forgery.

Born in 1924 in a small town in the southern part of the Korean peninsula, Chun was best known for her paintings of female figures and flowers using vivid primary colours that broke with traditional South Korean styles.

Her works have recently sold at auction for between US$700,000 (S$1 million) and US$1 million.

Before her death last year at the age of 91, Chun had repeatedly insisted that Beautiful Woman - a 1971 portrait owned by the country's National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art - was not one of hers.

The museum was equally adamant that it was, and in April a prosecutorial probe was launched after one of Chun's daughters filed a complaint.

But in their report on Monday, the prosecutors found in favour of the museum, citing forensic evidence and the opinion of local art experts.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2016, with the headline 'Prosecutors: Picture is real S. Korean artist: It's a fake'. Print Edition | Subscribe