Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Apocatastasis [Eternal Return] [Wheel of Time]
by Robert Turcan
Translated from French by Paul C. Duggan
Revised Bibliography
Accessed: 7/31/22

In the constant transformation from arising to becoming and out beyond this to passing away, to a new arising and a new becoming, in which Wuotan [Wotan] continues in an uninterrupted evolutionary process -- just as the All (macrocosm) and every individual self (microcosm) consistently remains the same ego [Ich] -- this ego was from the beginning of time bound inseparably and unalterably to certain spiritual and physical realities in a biune-bifidic biunity [beideinig-zwiespaltige Zwei-Einheit). Thus Wuotan [Wotan] appears before our eyes as the reflection of the All as an individual self: "He consecrates himself, consecrated to himself," he consecrates himself -- as a self-sacrificer to himself as a self-sacrifice -- to the passing away in order to arise anew. The nearer he feels to the point in time for this passing away toward a new arising -- his death -- the clearer the knowledge grows in him about the secret of life which is an eternal arising and passing away, a constant transformation, an eternal return [ewige Wiederkehr] -- a life of constant cycle of being born and dying. "This knowledge completely arises in him only at that twilight-moment in which he is sinking (dying) into the Ur out of which he will once more arise, and in this twilight-moment (death) he gives his eye as a pledge in exchange for elevated knowledge. However, this eye remains his property -- even if it has been pawned. He will reclaim it upon his rebirth out of the Ur. For this one is is his physical body, while his other eye, which he retains and takes with him into the Ur, is his spiritual body, his soul. The one physical eye, that is, the physical body itself, is only temporarily lost in the transitional phase of death, but it nevertheless remains his own, and is reunified with his other (spiritual) eye at the moment of his return out of the Ur -- upon his rebirth. This latter is his spiritual body (the soul), but the primeval knowledge gained from Mimir's well also remains his property upon his rebirth, i.e. the property of the All. It is the sum of the experience (Gjallar) of thousands upon thousands of ages which is preserved and inherited -- unconsciously through the mind and consciously through language and writing. Thus the knowledge of Wuotan [Wotan], and that of each individual self, is increased by means of the drink from Mimir's well using the Gjallarhorn, he enriches it through his questions to the Wala (Lady of Death, Totenwal, Helja), as well as through his dialog with Mimir's head. It only appears that he is separating himself from the material world, from humanity, to which he also belongs in what appears to be physical nonexistence, for he constitutes a biune-bifidic biunity as something both spiritual and physical. He cannot separate his own physical day-life from his psychosomatic night-life -- a life which only appears to be nonexistence. There he gains primeval knowledge of his eternal life, which guides him in eternal change through the transformations from arising, becoming, transforming, passing away, and arising anew though all eternity. Through this knowledge he became wise and found both the science surrounding the fate of the world by his own life being consecrated to death, and the solution to the riddle of the cosmos, which -- as it says in the "Runatals thattr Odins" -- "he will never ever reveal to a woman or a girl." And since Wuotan [Wotan] is himself in fact also the All at the same time -- as every self is also simultaneously the not-self, i.e. the All-Unified-Self (community = all-one-self) -- each individual self, each person, makes the same transformations through the same levels of knowledge. All individual storehouses of knowledge and solutions to problems (not mere dead memorized data!) are thus evaluated. Such storehouses are not lost upon death, but rather are preserved in death and once more brought back to the world of men upon the next reincarnation. People call these spiritual storehouses that the reborn individuals bring to the earth "natural abilities," "talent" or "innate genius," which has already been established and discussed above. But just as the unrevealed God is only able to reveal himself in matter and become the world-spirit (First Logos), and just as the revealed God has to activate himself in creation generatively (Second Logos), in order to come to a a vision and knowledge of himself, and finally just as the human spirit (Third Logos) had to attain this through an apparent descent from divinity for the sake of awareness of divinity itself, i.e. his own selfhood, so too the human being can only rediscover the divinity within himself (the divine inwardness) after he has lost it, after he has searched for God unsuccessfully outside himself "up there in heaven," in temples and churches finally only to rediscover his God within his own heart on the painful detour through atheism -- and this time he does so in a way that God will never again be lost. And here we recognize in the world-ash, Yggdrasil -- the imagematic tree of knowledge -- the holy tree Zampuh of Tibetan myth, the Assyrian tree of life, and the other similar trees in Indian, Persian and other mythologies. Thus we find our way back to Yggdrasil again.

-- The Religion of the Aryo-Germanic Folk: Esoteric and Exoteric, by Guido von List

When D. P. Walker wrote about "ancient theology" or prisca theologia, he firmly linked it to Christianity and Platonism (Walker 1972). On the first page of his book, Walker defined the term as follows:
By the term "Ancient Theology" I mean a certain tradition of Christian apologetic theology which rests on misdated texts. Many of the early Fathers, in particular Lactantius, Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius, in their apologetic works directed against pagan philosophers, made use of supposedly very ancient texts: Hermetica, Orphica, Sibylline Prophecies, Pythagorean Carmina Aurea, etc., most of which in fact date from the first four centuries of our era. [100-400 A.D.] These texts, written by the Ancient Theologians hermes Trismegistus, Orpheus, Pythagoras, were shown to contain vestiges of the true religion: monotheism, the Trinity, the creation of the world out of nothing through the Word, and so forth. It was from these that Plato [428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC)] took the religious truths to be found in his writings. [???!!!] (Walker 1972:1)

Walker described A revival of such "ancient theology" in the Renaissance and in "platonizing theologians from Ficino to Cudworth" who wanted to "integrate Platonism and Neoplatonism into Christianity, so that their own religious and philosophical beliefs might coincide" [!!!](p. 2). After the debunking of the genuineness and antiquity of the texts favored by these ancient theologians, the movement ought to have died; but Walker detected "a few isolated survivals" such as Athanasius Kircher, Pierre-Daniel Huet, and the Jesuit figurists of the French China mission (p. 194). For Walker the last Mohican of this movement, so to say, is Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686-1743), whose views are described in the final chapter of The Ancient Theology. But seen through the lens of our concerns here, one could easily extend this line to various figures in this book, for example, Jean Calmette, John Zephaniah Holwell, Abbe Vincent Mignot, Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron, Guillaume Sainte-Croix, and also to William Jones (App 2009).


To better understand such phenomena we have to go beyond the narrow confines of the Christian God and Platonism. There are many movements that link themselves to some kind of "original," "pure," "genuine" teaching, claim its authority, use it to criticize "degenerate" accretions, and attempt to legitimize their "reform" on its basis. Such links can take a variety of forms. In Chapter 4 we saw how in the eighth and ninth centuries the Buddhist reform movement known as Zen cooked up a lineage of "mind to mind" transmission with the aim of connecting the teaching of the religion's Indian founder figure, Buddha, with their own views. The tuned-up and misdated Forty-Two Sections Sutra that ended up impressing so many people, including its first European translator de Guignes, was one (of course unanticipated) outcome of this strategy. Such "Ur-tradition" movements, as I propose to call them, invariably create a "transmission" scenario of their "original" teaching or revelation; in the case of Zen this consisted in an elaborate invented genealogy with colorful transmission figures like Bodhidharma and "patriarchs" consisting mostly of pious legends. Such invented genealogies and transmissions are embodied in symbols and legends emphasizing the link between the "original" teaching and the movement's doctrine. "Genuine," "oldest" texts are naturally of central importance for such movements, since they tend to regard the purity of teaching as directly proportional to its closeness to origins.

A common characteristic of such "Ur-tradition" movements is a tripartite scheme of "golden age," "degeneration," and "regeneration." The raison d'etre of such movements is the revival of a purportedly most ancient, genuine, "original" teaching after a long period of degeneration. Hence their need to define an "original" teaching, establish a line of its transmission, identify stages and kinds of degeneration, and present themselves as the agent of "regeneration" of the original "ancient" teaching.
Such need often arises in a milieu of doctrinal rivalry or in a crisis, for example, when "new" religions or reform movements want to establish and legitimize themselves or when an established religion is threatened by powerful alternatives.

When young Christianity evolved from a Jewish reform movement and was accused of being a "new religion" and an invention, ancient connections were needed to provide legitimacy and add historical weight to the religion. The adoption of the Hebrew Bible as "Old Testament," grimly opposed by some early Christians, linked the young religion and its "New Testament" effectively to the very creation of the world, to paradise, and to the Ur-religion of the first humans in the golden age. Legends, texts, and symbols were created to illustrate this "Old-to-New" link. For example, the savior's cross on Golgotha had to get a pedigree connecting it to the Hebrew Bible's paradise tree; and the original sinner Adam's skull had to be brought via Noah's ark to Palestine in order to get buried on the very hill near Jerusalem where Adam's original sin eventually got expunged by the New Testament's "second Adam" on the cross (Figure 11). Theologians use the word "typology" for such attempts to discover Christian teachings or forebodings thereof in the Old Testament.

Similar links to an "oldest," "purest," and "original" teaching are abundant not only in the history of religions but also, for example, in freemasonry and various "esoteric" movements. They also tend to invent links to an original "founder," "ancient" teachings and texts, lineages, symbols of the original doctrine and its transmission, eminent transmitter figures ("patriarchs"), and so on; and they usually criticize the degeneration of exactly those original and pure teachings that they claim to resuscitate. In such schemes the most ancient texts, symbols, and objects naturally play important roles, particularly if they seem mysterious: pyramids, hieroglyphs, runic letters, ancient texts buried in caves, and divine revelations stored on golden tablets in heaven or in some American prophet's backyard ...

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App

According to Lanz, the earliest recorded ancestors of the present 'arioheroic' race were the Atlanteans, who had lived on a continent situated in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean. They were supposedly descended from the original divine Theozoa with electromagnetic sensory organs and superhuman powers. Catastrophic floods eventually submerged their continent in about 8000 BC and the Atlanteans migrated eastwards in two groups. The Northern Atlanteans streamed towards the British Isles, Scandinavia, and Northern Europe, while the Southern Atlanteans migrated across Western Africa to Egypt and Babylonia, where they founded the antique civilizations of the Near East. The ariosophical cult was thus introduced to Asia, where the idolatrous beast-cults of miscegenation had flourished.

Lanz claimed that the racial religion had been actively preached and practised in the ancient world. He asserted that Moses, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Plato, and Alexander the Great had been its champions. The laws of Moses and Plato's esteem for the aristocratic principle, and his provision for a caste of priest-kings in The Republic, proved them Ariosophists....

The suppression of the Templars in 1308 signalled the end of this era and the ascendancy of the racial inferiors. Henceforth Europe witnessed the slow decline of her racial, cultural, and political achievements. The growth of towns, the expansion of capitalism, and its creation of an industrial labouring class led to the breakdown of the aristocratic principle and the strict maintenance of racial purity. Christianity was perverted into a sentimental altruistic doctrine, which taught that all men were equal, and that man should love his neighbour, irrespective of his race. During the 'cosmic week' from 1210 to 1920 Europe was subject to a process of debasement, culminating in the enormities of Bolshevism and its open proclamation of rule by the masses.

-- The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology: The Arisophists of Austria and Germany, 1890-1935, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

From the feeling that society, and indeed 'everything', was in flux, arose, I believe, the fundamental impulse of his philosophy as well as of the philosophy of Heraclitus; and Plato summed up his social experience, exactly as his historicist predecessor had done, by proffering a law of historical development. According to this law, which will be more fully discussed in the next chapter, all social change is corruption or decay or degeneration.

This fundamental historical law forms, in Plato's view, part of a cosmic law — of a law which holds for all created or generated things. All things in flux, all generated things, are destined to decay. Plato, like Heraclitus, felt that the forces which are at work in history are cosmic forces.

It is nearly certain, however, that Plato believed that this law of degeneration was not the whole story. We have found, in Heraclitus, a tendency to visualize the laws of development as cyclic laws; they are conceived after the law which determines the cyclic succession of the seasons. Similarly we can find, in some of Plato's works, the suggestion of a Great Year (its length appears to be 36,000 ordinary years), with a period of improvement or generation, presumably corresponding to Spring and Summer, and one of degeneration and decay, corresponding to Autumn and Winter. According to one of Plato's dialogues (the Statesman), a Golden Age, the age of Cronos — an age in which Cronos himself rules the world, and in which men spring from the earth — is followed by our own age, the age of Zeus, an age in which the world is abandoned by the gods and left to its own resources, and which consequently is one of increasing corruption. And in the story of the Statesman there is also a suggestion that, after the lowest point of complete corruption has been reached, the god will again take the helm of the cosmic ship, and things will start to improve.

It is not certain how far Plato believed in the story of the Statesman. He made it quite clear that he did not believe that all of it was literally true. On the other hand, there can be little doubt that he visualized human history in a cosmic setting; that he believed his own age to be one of deep depravity — possibly of the deepest that can be reached — and the whole preceding historical period to be governed by an inherent tendency toward decay, a tendency shared by both the historical and the cosmical development. Whether or not he also believed that this tendency must necessarily come to an end once the point of extreme depravity has been reached seems to me uncertain. But he certainly believed that it is possible for us, by a human, or rather by a superhuman effort, to break through the fatal historical trend, and to put an end to the process of decay.

Great as the similarities are between Plato and Heraclitus, we have struck here an important difference. Plato believed that the law of historical destiny, the law of decay, can be broken by the moral will of man, supported by the power of human reason.

It is not quite clear how Plato reconciled this view with his belief in a law of destiny. But there are some indications which may explain the matter.

Plato believed that the law of degeneration involved moral degeneration. Political degeneration at any rate depends in his view mainly upon moral degeneration (and lack of knowledge); and moral degeneration, in its turn, is due mainly to racial degeneration. This is the way in which the general cosmic law of decay manifests itself in the field of human affairs.

It is therefore understandable that the great cosmic turning-point may coincide with a turning-point in the field of human affairs — the moral and intellectual field — and that it may, therefore, appear to us to be brought about by a moral and intellectual human effort. Plato may well have believed that, just as the general law of decay did manifest itself in moral decay leading to political decay, so the advent of the cosmic turning-point would manifest itself in the coming of a great law-giver whose powers of reasoning and whose moral will are capable of bringing this period of political decay to a close. It seems likely that the prophecy, in the Statesman, of the return of the Golden Age, of a new millennium, is the expression of such a belief in the form of a myth. However this may be, he certainly believed in both — in a general historical tendency towards corruption, and in the possibility that we may stop further corruption in the political field by arresting all political change. This, accordingly, is the aim he strives for. He tries to realize it by the establishment of a state which is free from the evils of all other states because it does not degenerate, because it does not change. The state which is free from the evil of change and corruption is the best, the perfect state. It is the state of the Golden Age which knew no change. It is the arrested state.

-- The Open Society and Its Enemies, by Karl R. Popper

The oldest known usage of the Greek word apokatastasis (whence the English apocatastasis ) dates from the fourth century bce: it is found in Aristotle (Magna Moralia 2.7.1204b), where it refers to the restoration of a being to its natural state. During the Hellenistic age it developed a cosmological and astrological meaning, variations of which can be detected (but with a very different concept of time) in Gnostic systems and even in Christian theology, whether orthodox or heterodox, especially in the theology of Origen.

Medical, Moral, and Juridical Meaning

Plato employed the verb kathistanai in the sense of to "reestablish" to a normal state following a temporary physical alteration (Philebus 42d). The prefix apo- in apokathistanai seems to reinforce the idea of an integral reestablishment to the original situation. Such is the return of the sick person to health (Hippocrates, 1258f.; Aretaeus, 9.22). The verb has this meaning in the Gospels in the context of the hand made better by Christ (Mt. 12:13; Mk. 3:5, Lk. 6:10). There are Hellenistic references to the apocatastasis, or "resetting," of a joint. In a psychological sense, the same meaning is present (with nuances that are hard to specify) in magical papyri and in the so-called Mithraic Liturgy. Origen (Against Celsus 2.24) uses the verb in his commentary on Job 5:18 ("For he wounds, but he binds up; he smites, but his hands heal") in one of several expositions where he compares the divine instruction on salvation to a method of therapy. The shift to a spiritual acceptation is evident, for example, in Philo Judaeus (Who Is the Heir 293), where "the perfect apocatastasis of the soul" confirms the philosophical healing that follows the two stages of infancy, first unformed and then corrupt. The soul recovers the health of its primitive state after a series of disturbances.

In a sociopolitical context, apocatastasis may signify a reestablishment of civil peace (Polybius, 4.23. l), or of an individual into his family (Polybius, 3.99.6), or the restoration of his rights (readmission of a soldier into an army, restoration of an exiled citizen to his prerogatives, etc.). Thus the verb apokathistanai is applied to the return of the Jews to the Holy Land after the captivity of Babylon (Jer. 15:9) as well as to the expression of messianic and eschatological hopes. Yet the noun form is not found in the Septuagint.

Astral Apocatastasis and the Great Year

The popularity and development of astrology influenced the cosmological systems of Hellenistic philosophy starting at the end of the fourth century bce. Apocatastasis here refers to the periodic return of the stars to their initial position, and the duration of the cycle amounts to a "Great Year." Plato defines the matter without using the word in the Timaeus (39d), where he talks of the eight spheres. Eudemius attributed to the Pythagoreans a theory of eternal return, but the Great Year of Oenopides and Philolaus involves only the sun. That of Aristotle, who calls it the "complete year," takes into account the seven planets: it also includes a "great winter" (with a flood) and a "great summer" (with a conflagration). Yet one could trace back to Heraclitus the principle of universal palingenesis periodically renewing the cosmos by fire, as well as the setting of the length of the Great Year at 10,800 years (this latter point is still in dispute). The astronomic teaching on the apocatastasis was refined by the Stoics, who identified it with the sidereal Great Year concluded either by a kataklusmos (flood) or by an ekpurosis (conflagration). Cicero defined it (with Aristotle) as the restoration of the seven planets to their point of departure, and sometimes as the return of all the stars (including the fixed ones) to their initial position. The estimates of its length varied considerably, ranging from 2,484 years (Aristarchus); to 10,800 years (Heraclitus); 12,954 years (Cicero); 15,000 years (Macrobius); 300,000 years (Firmicus Maternus), and up to 3,600,000 years (Cassandra). Diogenes of Babylon multiplied Heraclitus's Great Year by 365.

The Neoplatonist Proclus attributes the doctrines of apocatastasis to the "Assyrians," in other words to the astrologers or "Chaldeans." However, Hellenistic astrology also drew from Egyptian traditions. The 36,525 books that Manetho (285–247 bce) attributed to Hermes Trismegistos represent the amount of 25 zodiac periods of 1,461 years each, that is, probably one Great Year (Gundel and Gundel, 1966). The texts of Hermes Trismegistos make reference to the apocatastasis (Hermetica 8.17, 11.2; Asklepios 13). In the first century bce, the neo-Pythagorean Nigidius Figulus perhaps conceived the palingenetic cycle as being a great cosmic week crowned by the reign of Apollo. Whence the celebrated verses of Vergil's Fourth Eclogue: "A great order is born out of the fullness of ages … now your Apollo reigns." The return of Apollo corresponds to that of the Golden Age. The noun apocatastasis (as well as the verb from which it derives) always evoked the restoration of the old order. It often implied a "nostalgia for origins." It is no accident that, in the scheme of the Mithraic mysteries, the last of the "doors" is made out of gold and corresponds to the sun, since the order of these planetary doors is that of a week in reverse; there is the presupposition of a backward progression to the beginning of time. In the teaching of the Stoics, this new beginning is seen as having to repeat itself indefinitely, following a constant periodicity that rules out of chance, disorder, and freedom. During the imperial age, the Roman mystique of renovatio rested upon the same basic concept (Turcan, 1981, pp. 22ff.).

Gnostic Apocatastases

In Gnosticism, apocatastasis also corresponds to a restoration of order, but in a spiritual and eschatological way from the perspective of a history of salvation that is fundamentally foreign to the Stoics' "eternal return." The Christ of the Valentinians "restores" the soul to the Pleroma. Heracleon interprets the wages of the reaper (Jn. 4:36) as being the salvation of souls and their "apocatastasis" into eternal life (Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John 13.46.299). The Valentinian Wisdom (Sophia) is reintegrated through apocatastasis to the Pleroma, as Enthumesis will also be. The female aiōn Achamoth awaits the return of the Savior so that he might "restore" her syzygy. For Marcus, the universal restoration coincides with a return to unity. All these systems tell the story of a restoration of an order disturbed by thought.

The concept of the followers of Basilides is difficult indeed to elucidate, since they imagine at the beginning of all things not a Pleroma but nonbeing. Given this premise, there is no talk about a restoration to an initial state, even less to the truly primitive state of nothingness. However, for the Basilidians the salvation that leads men to God amounts to no less than a reestablishment of order (Hippolytus, Philosophuma 7.27.4). Like the Stoics, Basilides linked apocatastasis to astral revolutions: the coming of the Savior was to coincide "with the return of the hours to their point of departure." (ibid., 6.1). Yet this soteriological process is historical: it unfolds within linear rather than cyclical time. The Basilidian apocatastasis is not regressive but rather progressive and definitive. Some other Gnostics integrated astral apocatastasis into their systems: the Manichaeans seem to have conceived of a Great Year of 12,000 years with a final conflagration.

Christian Apocatastasis

In the New Testament, the first evidence of the noun apocatastasis used in an eschatological sense is found in Acts of the Apostles 3:21: Peter states that heaven must keep Jesus "till the universal apocatastasis comes." According to André Méhat (1956, p. 209), this would mean the "definitive achievement" of what God has promised through his prophets and would indicate the notion of accomplishment and fulfillment. In the Gospels, Matthew 17:11 and Mark 9:2 speak of Elijah as the one who will "reestablish" everything, and Malachi 3:23 (of which the evangelists could not help but think) speaks of the day when Yahveh will "restore" hearts and lead them back to him. Apocatastasis thus represents the salvation of creation reconciled with God, that is, a true return to an original state. The verb has this meaning for Theophilus of Antioch (To Autolycus 2.17). For both Tatian (Address to the Greeks 6.2) and Irenaeus (Against Heresies 5.3.2) apocatastasis is equivalent to resurrection and points without any ambiguity to a restoration of man in God. In Clement of Alexandria, the precise meaning of the word is not always clear, but this much may be said: apocatastasis appears as a return to God that is the result of a recovered purity of heart consequent to absorption in certain "Gnostic" teachings; it is a conception not unlike that found in the Book of Malachi in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament).

It is in Origen that the doctrine of apocatastasis finds its most remarkable expression. In Against Celsus 7.3, where he mentions the "restoration of true piety toward God," Origen implicitly refers to Malachi. Elsewhere (Commentary on the Gospel of John 10.42.291), the word involves the reestablishment of the Jewish people after the captivity, yet as an anticipatory image of the return to the heavenly fatherland. Origen's originality consisted in his having conceived apocatastasis as being universal (including the redemption even of the devil or the annihilation of all evil) and as a return of souls to their pure spirituality. This final incorporality is rejected by Gregory of Nyssa, who nonetheless insists upon apocatastasis as a restoration to the original state. Didymus the Blind and Evagrios of Pontus were condemned at the same time as Origen by the Council of Constantinople (553) for having professed the doctrine of universal apocatastasis and the restoration of incorporeal souls. Yet there is still discussion concerning this principal aspect of Origen's eschatology. Astronomical theories and Greek cosmology seem also to have inspired the Greek bishop Synesius of Cyrene, a convert from Neoplatonism. Yet Tatian (Address to the Greeks 6. 2) had already emphasized what fundamentally set Christian apocatastasis apart: it depends upon God (and not upon sidereal revolutions) and is completed once and for all at the end of time, without being repeated indefinitely.

See Also

Ages of the World; Golden Age.


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van Laak, Werner. Allversöhnung: die Lehre von der Apokatastasis: ihre Grundlegung durch Origenes und ihre Bewertung in der gegenwärtigen Theologie bei Karl Barth und Hans Urs von Balthasar. Sinzig, Germany, 1990.

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Robert Turcan (1987)

Translated from French by Paul C. Duggan
Revised Bibliography
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Mon Aug 01, 2022 3:40 am

Wheel of time
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/22/22

-- On the Chronology of the Hindus, by the President (Sir William Jones), Written in January 1788

-- A Supplement to the Essay on Indian Chronology, by the President (Sir William Jones), Asiatic Researches, Volume 2, 1788

-- On the Chronology of the Hindus, by Captain Francis Wilford, Asiatic Researches; or, Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal, For Inquiring Into the History and Antiquities, The Arts, Sciences, and Literature, Of Asia, Volume the Fifth, 1799

-- [Book Review of:] A Key to the Chronology of the Hindus; in a Series of Letters, in which an Attempt is made to facilitate the Progress of Christianity in Hindustan, by proving that the protracted Numbers of all Oriental Nations, when reduced, agree with the Dates given in the Hebrew Text of the Bible. 2 vols. 8vo. Rivingtons. 1820. [by Anonymous, 1820], by F. and C. Rivington (Firm), The British Critic, Volumes 13-14, Editors: 1793-1813, Robert Nares, William Beloe; 1814-1825, T.F. Middleton, W.R. Lyall, and others. 1820, originally published 1792

-- A Key to the Chronology of the Hindus in a Series of Letters in Which an Attempt is Made to Facilitate the Progress of Christianity in Hindostan, by Proving That the Protracted Numbers of All Oriental Nations When Reduced Agree with the Dates Given in the Hebrew Text of the Bible, In Two Volumes, Volume I, by Alexander Hamilton, 1820

-- Determination of the Date of the Mahabharata: The Possibility Thereof, [Reprinted from Vishveshvaramand Indological Journal, Vol. XIV (1976) pp. 48-56.], Excerpt, from Collected Papers on Jyotisha, by T.S. Kuppanna Sastry

-- History of Classical Sanskrit Literature, by Kavyavinoda, Sahityaratnakara M. Krishnamachariar, M.A., M.I., Ph.D., Member of the Royal Asiatic Society of London (Of the Madras Judicial Service), Assisted by His Son M. Srinivasachariar, B.A., B.L., Advocate, Madras, 1937

The wheel of time or wheel of history (also known as Kalachakra) is a concept found in several religious traditions and philosophies, notably religions of Indian origin such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, which regard time as cyclical and consisting of repeating ages. Many other cultures contain belief in a similar concept: notably, the Q'ero Natives of Peru, as well as the Hopi Natives of Arizona.


Main articles: Yuga Cycle, Manvantara, and Kalpa (aeon)

In Hindu cosmology, kala (time) is eternal, repeating general events in four types of cycles. The smallest cycle is a maha-yuga (great age), containing four yugas (dharmic ages): Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. A manvantara (age of Manu) contains 71 maha-yugas. A kalpa (day of Brahma) contains 14 manvantaras and 15 sandhyas (connecting periods), which lasts for 1,000 maha-yugas and is followed by a pralaya (night of partial dissolution) of equal length, where a day and night make one full day. A maha-kalpa (life of Brahma) lasts for 100 of Brahma's years of 12 months of 30 full days (100 360-day years) or 72,000,000 maha-yugas, which is followed by a maha-pralaya (full dissolution) of equal length.[1]


Main article: Kalachakra

The Wheel of Time or Kalachakra is a Tantric deity that is associated with Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, which encompasses all four main schools of Sakya, Nyingma, Kagyu and Gelug, and is especially important within the lesser-known Jonang tradition.

The Kalachakra tantra prophesies a world within which (religious) conflict is prevalent. A worldwide war will be waged which will see the expansion of the mystical Kingdom of Shambhala led by a messianic king.


Main article: Ajiva

Within Jainism, time is thought to be a wheel that rotates for infinity without a beginning. This wheel of time holds twelve spokes that each symbolize a different phase in the universe's cosmological history. It is further divided into two equal halves having six eras in them. While in a downward motion, the wheel of time falls into what is known as Avasarpiṇī and when in an upward motion, enters a state called Utsarpini. During both motions of the wheel, 24 tirthankaras come forth to teach the three jewels or sacred Jain teachings of right faith, right knowledge, and right practice, then create a spiritual ford across the ocean of rebirth for humanity.[2][3]

Ancient Rome

The philosopher and emperor Marcus Aurelius saw time as extending forwards to infinity and backwards to infinity, while admitting the possibility (without arguing the case) that "the administration of the universe is organized into a succession of finite periods".[4]: Book 5, Paragraph 13 

Modern usage


In an interview included with the audiobook editions of his novels, author Robert Jordan has stated that his bestselling fantasy series The Wheel of Time borrows the titular concept from Hindu mythology.[5]


Several episodes of the American TV series Lost feature a wheel that can be physically turned in order to manipulate space and time. In a series of episodes during the fifth season, the island on which the show takes place begins to skip violently back and forth through time after the wheel is pulled off its axis.

See also

Eternal return
• Kalachakra
• Wheel of the Year


1. Gupta, Dr. S. V. (2010). Hull, Robert; Osgood, Jr., Richard M.; Parisi, Jurgen; Warlimont, Hans (eds.). Units of Measurement: Past, Present and Future. International System of Units. Springer Series in Materials Science: 122. Springer. pp. 6–9 (1.2.4 Time Measurements). ISBN 9783642007378.
2. Bhattacharyya, Sibajiban (1970). Buddhist Philosophy From 350 to 600 A.D. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 3. ISBN 9788120819689.
3. Dundas, Paul (2003). The Jains (2 ed.). Routledge. p. 20. ISBN 9781134501656.
4. Aurelius, Marcus (2011). Meditations. Robin Hard. Oxford [England]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-957320-2. OCLC 757023454.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Thu Aug 11, 2022 10:08 pm

Christian Kabbalah
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/11/22

Christian Kabbalah arose during the Renaissance due to Christian scholars' interest in the mysticism of Jewish Kabbalah, which they interpreted according to Christian theology. It is often transliterated as Cabala (also Cabbala) to distinguish it from the Jewish form and from Hermetic Qabalah.[1]


The movement was influenced by a desire to interpret aspects of Christianity even more mystically than current Christian mystics. Greek Neoplatonic documents came into Europe from Constantinople in the reign of Mehmet II. Neoplatonism had been prevalent in Christian Europe and had entered into Scholasticism since the translation of Greek and Hebrew texts in Spain in the 13th century. The Renaissance trend was a relatively short-lived phenomenon, ending by 1750.

Christian scholars interpreted Kabbalistic ideas from "a distinctly Christian perspective, linking Jesus Christ, His atonement, and His resurrection to the Ten Sefirot" – the upper three Sephirot to the hypostases of the Trinity and the other seven "to the lower or earthly world".[2] Alternatively, they "would make Kether the Creator (or the Spirit), Hokhmah the Father, and Binah – the supernal mother – Mary", which placed her "on a divine level with God, something the orthodox churches have always refused to do".[3] Christian Kabbalists sought to transform Kabbalah into "a dogmatic weapon to turn back against the Jews to compel their conversion – starting with Ramon Llull", whom Harvey J. Hames called "the first Christian to acknowledge and appreciate kabbalah as a tool of conversion", though Llull was not a Kabbalist himself nor versed in Kabbalah.[4] Later Christian Kabbalah is mostly based on Pico della Mirandola, Johann Reuchlin and Paolo Riccio.[5]

After the 18th century, Kabbalah became blended with European occultism, some of which had a religious basis; but the main interest in Christian Kabbalah was by then dead. A few attempts have been made to revive it in recent decades, particularly regarding the Neoplatonism of the first two chapters of the Gospel of John, but it has not entered into mainstream Christianity.

Medieval precursors

Raymond Llull

Main article: Ramon Llull

The Franciscan friar Ramon Llull (c. 1232-1316) was "the first Christian to acknowledge and appreciate kabbalah as a tool of conversion", although he was "not a Kabbalist, nor was he versed in any particular Kabbalistic approach".[4] Not interested in the possibilities of scholarly Jewish influence, which began later in the Renaissance, his reading of new interpretations of Kabbalah was solely for the sake of theological debate with religious Jews; i.e., missionizing.

Spanish conversos

An early expression of Christian Kabbalah was among the Spanish conversos from Judaism, from the late 13th century to the Expulsion from Spain of 1492. These include Abner of Burgos and Pablo de Heredia. Heredia's Epistle of Secrets is "the first recognizable work of Christian Kabbalah", and was quoted by Pietro Galatino who influenced Athanasius Kircher. However, Heredia's Kabbalah consists of quotes from non-existent Kabbalistic works, and distorted or fake quotes from real Kabbalistic sources.[6]

Christian Kabbalists

Pico della Mirandola

Main article: Pico della Mirandola

Among the first to promote aspects of Kabbalah beyond exclusively Jewish circles was Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494)[7] a student of Marsilio Ficino at his Florentine Academy. His syncretic world-view combined Platonism, Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Hermeticism and Kabbalah.

Mirandola's work on Kabbalah was further developed by Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680), a Jesuit priest, Hermeticist and polymath; in 1652, Kircher wrote on the subject in Oedipus Aegyptiacus.

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola; Latin: Johannes Picus de Mirandula; 24 February 1463 – 17 November 1494) was an Italian Renaissance nobleman and philosopher. He is famed for the events of 1486, when, at the age of 23, he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy, and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the Oration on the Dignity of Man, which has been called the "Manifesto of the Renaissance", and a key text of Renaissance humanism and of what has been called the "Hermetic Reformation". He was the founder of the tradition of Christian Kabbalah, a key tenet of early modern Western esotericism. The 900 Theses was the first printed book to be universally banned by the Church. Pico is sometimes seen as a proto-Protestant, because his 900 theses anticipated many Protestant views.

-- Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, by Wikipedia

Johann Reuchlin

Title of Reuchlin's De arte cabalistica libri tres, iam denua adcurate revisi, 1530.

Main article: Johann Reuchlin

Johann Reuchlin, a Catholic humanist (1455–1522), was "Pico's most important follower".[8] His main sources for Kabbalah were Menahem Recanati (Commentary on the Torah, Commentary on the Daily Prayers) and Joseph Gikatilla (Sha'are Orah, Ginnat 'Egoz).[9] Reuchlin argued that human history divides into three periods: a natural period in which God revealed Himself as Shaddai (שדי), the period of the Torah in which God "revealed Himself to Moses through the four-lettered name of the Tetragrammaton" (יהוה), and the period of Christian spiritual rule of the earth which is known in Christianity as "the redemption." It was asserted that the five-letter name associated with this period is an altered version of the tetragrammaton with the additional letter shin (ש).[10]

This name, Yahshuah (יהשוה for 'Jesus'), is also known as the pentagrammaton. It is an attempt by Christian theologians to read the name of the Christian deity into The unpronounced name of the Jewish God. The first of Reuchlin's two books on Kabbalah, De verbo mirifico, "speaks of the […] name of Jesus derived from the tetragrammaton".[9] His second book, De arte cabalistica, is "a broader, more informed excursion into various kabbalistic concerns".[11]

Francesco Giorgi

Main article: Francesco Giorgi

front page of Francesco Giorgi's De harmonia mundi.

Francesco Giorgi, (1467–1540) was a Venetian Franciscan friar and "has been considered a central figure in sixteenth-century Christian Kabbalah both by his contemporaries and by modern scholars". According to Giulio Busi, he was the most important Christian Kabbalist second to its founder Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. His, De harmonia mundi, was "a massive and curious book, all Hermetic, Platonic, Cabalistic, and Pinchian".[12]

Paolo Riccio

Main article: Paolo Riccio

Paolo Riccio (1506–1541) "unified the scattered dogmas of the Christian Cabala into an internally consistent system",[10] based on Pico and Reuchlin and adding "to them through an original synthesis of kabbalistic and Christian sources".[13]

Balthasar Walther

Main article: Balthasar Walther

Balthasar Walther, (1558 – before 1630), was a Silesian physician. In 1598-1599, Walther undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to learn about the intricacies of the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism from groups in Safed and elsewhere, including amongst the followers of Isaac Luria. However, he did not follow the teachings of these Jewish authorities but later used his learning to further Christian theological pursuits. Despite his claim to have spent six years in these travels, it appears that he only made several shorter trips. Walther himself did not author any significant works of Christian Kabbalah but maintained a voluminous manuscript collection of magical and kabbalistic works. His significance for the history of Christian Kabbalah is that his ideas and doctrines exercised a profound influence on the works of the German theosopher, Jakob Böhme, in particular Böhme's Forty Questions on the Soul (c.1621).[14]

Athanasius Kircher

Main article: Athanasius Kircher

The following century produced Athanasius Kircher, a German Jesuit priest, scholar and polymath. He wrote extensively on the subject in 1652, bringing further elements such as Orphism and Egyptian mythology to the mix in his work, Oedipus Aegyptiacus. It was illustrated by Kircher's adaptation of the Tree of Life.[15] Kircher's version of the Tree of Life is still used in Western Kabbalah.[16]

Sir Thomas Browne

The physician-philosopher Sir Thomas Browne (1605–82) is recognised as one of the few 17th century English scholars of the Kabbalah.[17] Browne read Hebrew, owned a copy of Francesco Giorgio's highly influential work of Christian Kabbalah De harmonia mundi totius (1525), and alluded to the Kabbalah in his discourse The Garden of Cyrus and encyclopaedia Pseudodoxia Epidemica which was translated into German by the Hebrew scholar and promoter of the Kabbalah, Christian Knorr von Rosenroth.[18]

Christian Knorr von Rosenroth

Sephirotic diagram from Knorr von Rosenroth's Kabbala Denudata.

Main article: Christian Knorr von Rosenroth

Christian Knorr von Rosenroth, (1636–1689), became well known as a translator, annotator, and editor of Kabbalistic texts; he published the two-volume Kabbala denudata ('Kabbalah Unveiled' 1677–78), "which virtually alone represented authentic (Jewish) kabbalah to Christian Europe until the mid-nineteenth century". The Kabbala denudata contains Latin translations of, among others, sections of the Zohar, Pardes Rimmonim by Moses Cordovero, Sha’ar ha-Shamayim and Beit Elohim by Abraham Cohen de Herrera, Sefer ha-Gilgulim (a Lurianic tract attributed to Hayyim Vital), with commentaries by Knorr von Rosenroth and Henry More; some later editions include a summary of Christian Kabbalah (Adumbratio Kabbalæ Christianæ) by F. M. van Helmont.[19]

Johan Kemper

Main article: Johan Kemper

Johan Kemper (1670–1716) was a Hebrew teacher, whose tenure at Uppsala University lasted from 1697 to 1716.[20] He was Emanuel Swedenborg's probable Hebrew tutor.

Kemper, formerly known as Moses ben Aaron of Cracow, was a convert to Lutheranism from Judaism. During his time at Uppsala, he wrote his three-volume work on the Zohar entitled Matteh Mosche ('The Staff of Moses').[21] In it, he attempted to show that the Zohar contained the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.[22]

This belief also drove him to make a literal translation of the Gospel of Matthew into Hebrew and to write a kabbalistic commentary on it.

Adorján Czipleá

Main article: Adorján Czipleá

See also

• Emanation (Eastern Orthodox Christianity)
• Platonism in the Renaissance


1. KABBALAH? CABALA? QABALAH? Archived 25 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine from Jewish
2. Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische, Kurt van Gorden: The Kingdom of the Occult. Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2008, p. 147f, accessed on 28 March 2013.
3. Rachel Pollack: The Kabbalah Tree: A Journey of Balance & Growth. First edition, second printing 2004. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications 2004, p. 50, accessed on 28 March 2013.[dead link]
4. Don Karr: The Study of Christian Cabala in English (pdf), p. 1, accessed on 28 March 2013.
5. Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische, Kurt van Gorden: The Kingdom of the Occult. Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2008, p. 150, accessed on 28 March 2013.
6. Don Karr: The Study of Christian Cabala in English (pdf), p. 2f, accessed on 28 March 2013.
7. Christian Cabala Archived 22 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine, accessed on 15 February 2013.
8. Don Karr: The Study of Christian Cabala in English (pdf), p. 6, accessed on 28 March 2013.
9. Don Karr: The Study of Christian Cabala in English (pdf), p. 16, accessed on 28 March 2013.
10. Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische, Kurt van Gorden: The Kingdom of the Occult. Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2008, p. 149, accessed on 28 March 2013.
11. Don Karr: The Study of Christian Cabala in English (pdf), p. 17, accessed on 28 March 2013.
12. Don Karr: The Study of Christian Cabala in English (pdf), p. 19, accessed on 28 March 2013.
13. Don Karr: The Study of Christian Cabala in English (pdf), p. 23, accessed on 28 March 2013.
14. Leigh T.I. Penman, A Second Christian Rosencreuz? Jakob Böhme’s Disciple Balthasar Walther (1558-c.1630) and the Kabbalah. With a Bibliography of Walther’s Printed Works. In: Western Esotericism. Selected Papers Read at the Symposium on Western Esotericism held at Åbo, Finland, on 15–17 August 2007. (Scripta instituti donneriani Aboensis, XX). T. Ahlbäck, ed. Åbo, Finland: Donner Institute, 2008: 154-172. Available online at:[1]
15. Schmidt, Edward W. The Last Renaissance Man: Athanasius Kircher, SJ. Company: The World of Jesuits and Their Friends. 19(2), Winter 2001–2002
16. Rachel Pollack: The Kabbalah Tree: A Journey of Balance & Growth. First edition, second printing 2004. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications 2004, p. 49, accessed on 28 March 2013.
17. Beitchman, Philip (1998). Alchemy of the Word: Cabala of the Renaissance. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791437384. p.339-40
18. p.339-40 Barbour, Reid (2013). Sir Thomas Browne: A Life. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199679881.
19. Don Karr: The Study of Christian Cabala in English (pdf), p. 43, accessed on 28 March 2013.
20. Messianism in the Christian Kabbala of Johann Kemper. In: The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning Volume 1, No. 1—August 2001.
21. Schoeps, Hans-Joachim, trans. Dole, George F., Barocke Juden, Christen, Judenchristen, Bern: Francke Verlag, 1965, pp. 60-67.
22. See Elliot R. Wolfson's study available at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 August 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2007.


• Armstrong, Allan: The Secret Garden of the Soul: An introduction to the Kabbalah, Imagier Publishing: Bristol, 2008.
• Blau, J. L.: The Christian Interpretation of the Cabala in the Renaissance, New York: Columbia University Press, 1944.
• Dan, Joseph (ed.): The Christian Kabbalah: Jewish Mystical Books and their Christian Interpreters, Cambridge, Mass., 1997.
• Dan, Joseph: Modern Times: The Christian Kabbalah. In: Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2006.
• Farmer, S.A.: Syncretism in the West: Pico's 900 Theses (1486), Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1998, ISBN 0-86698-209-4.
• Reichert, Klaus: Pico della Mirandola and the Beginnings of Christian Kabbala. In: Mysticism, Magic and Kabbalah in Ashkenazi Judaism, ed. K. E. Grözinger and J. Dan, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995.
• Swietlicki, Catherine: Spanish Christian Cabala: The Works of Luis de Leon, Santa Teresa de Jesus, and San Juan de la Cruz, Univ. of Missouri Press, 1987.
• Wirszubski, Chaim: Pico della Mirandola's encounter with Jewish mysticism, Harvard University Press, 1989.
• Yates, Frances A.: The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, Routledge & Kegan Paul: London, 1979.

External links

• Christian Cabala
• The Study of Christian Cabala in English
• The Study of Christian Cabala in English: Addenda
• Knots & Spirals: Notes on the Emergence of Christian Cabala
• Historical background in Christendom of 13th century Jewish Kabbalah
• Forshaw, Peter J (2013). "Cabala Chymica or Chemica Cabalistica - Early Modern Alchemists and Cabala". Ambix, Vol. 60:4.
• Forshaw, Peter J (2014). "The Genesis of Christian Kabbalah - Early Modern Speculations on the Work of Creation". Hidden Truths from Eden: Esoteric Readings of Genesis 1-3.
• Forshaw, Peter J (2016). "Christian Kabbalah". The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Thu Aug 11, 2022 10:15 pm

Part 1 of 2

Oration on the Dignity of Man
by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola; Latin: Johannes Picus de Mirandula; 24 February 1463 – 17 November 1494) was an Italian Renaissance nobleman and philosopher. He is famed for the events of 1486, when, at the age of 23, he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy, and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the Oration on the Dignity of Man, which has been called the "Manifesto of the Renaissance", and a key text of Renaissance humanism and of what has been called the "Hermetic Reformation". He was the founder of the tradition of Christian Kabbalah, a key tenet of early modern Western esotericism. The 900 Theses was the first printed book to be universally banned by the Church. Pico is sometimes seen as a proto-Protestant, because his 900 theses anticipated many Protestant views.

-- Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, by Wikipedia

Most esteemed Fathers, I have read in the ancient writings of the Arabians that Abdala the Saracen on being asked what, on this stage, so to say, of the world, seemed to him most evocative of wonder, replied that there was nothing to be seen more marvelous than man. And that celebrated exclamation of Hermes Trismegistus, ``What a great miracle is man, Asclepius'' confirms this opinion.

And still, as I reflected upon the basis assigned for these estimations, I was not fully persuaded by the diverse reasons advanced for the pre-eminence of human nature; that man is the intermediary between creatures, that he is the familiar of the gods above him as he is the lord of the beings beneath him; that, by the acuteness of his senses, the inquiry of his reason and the light of his intelligence, he is the interpreter of nature, set midway between the timeless unchanging and the flux of time; the living union (as the Persians say), the very marriage hymn of the world, and, by David's testimony but little lower than the angels. These reasons are all, without question, of great weight; nevertheless, they do not touch the principal reasons, those, that is to say, which justify man's unique right for such unbounded admiration. Why, I asked, should we not admire the angels themselves and the beatific choirs more? At long last, however, I feel that I have come to some understanding of why man is the most fortunate of living things and, consequently, deserving of all admiration; of what may be the condition in the hierarchy of beings assigned to him, which draws upon him the envy, not of the brutes alone, but of the astral beings and of the very intelligences which dwell beyond the confines of the world. A thing surpassing belief and smiting the soul with wonder. Still, how could it be otherwise? For it is on this ground that man is, with complete justice, considered and called a great miracle and a being worthy of all admiration.

Hear then, oh Fathers, precisely what this condition of man is; and in the name of your humanity, grant me your benign audition as I pursue this theme.

God the Father, the Mightiest Architect, had already raised, according to the precepts of His hidden wisdom, this world we see, the cosmic dwelling of divinity, a temple most august. He had already adorned the supercelestial region with Intelligences, infused the heavenly globes with the life of immortal souls and set the fermenting dung-heap of the inferior world teeming with every form of animal life. But when this work was done, the Divine Artificer still longed for some creature which might comprehend the meaning of so vast an achievement, which might be moved with love at its beauty and smitten with awe at its grandeur. When, consequently, all else had been completed (as both Moses and Timaeus testify), in the very last place, He bethought Himself of bringing forth man. Truth was, however, that there remained no archetype according to which He might fashion a new offspring, nor in His treasure-houses the wherewithal to endow a new son with a fitting inheritance, nor any place, among the seats of the universe, where this new creature might dispose himself to contemplate the world. All space was already filled; all things had been distributed in the highest, the middle and the lowest orders. Still, it was not in the nature of the power of the Father to fail in this last creative élan; nor was it in the nature of that supreme Wisdom to hesitate through lack of counsel in so crucial a matter; nor, finally, in the nature of His beneficent love to compel the creature destined to praise the divine generosity in all other things to find it wanting in himself.

At last, the Supreme Maker decreed that this creature, to whom He could give nothing wholly his own, should have a share in the particular endowment of every other creature. Taking man, therefore, this creature of indeterminate image, He set him in the middle of the world and thus spoke to him:

``We have given you, O Adam, no visage proper to yourself, nor endowment properly your own, in order that whatever place, whatever form, whatever gifts you may, with premeditation, select, these same you may have and possess through your own judgement and decision. The nature of all other creatures is defined and restricted within laws which We have laid down; you, by contrast, impeded by no such restrictions, may, by your own free will, to whose custody We have assigned you, trace for yourself the lineaments of your own nature. I have placed you at the very center of the world, so that from that vantage point you may with greater ease glance round about you on all that the world contains. We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, in order that you may, as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. It will be in your power to descend to the lower, brutish forms of life; you will be able, through your own decision, to rise again to the superior orders whose life is divine.''

Oh unsurpassed generosity of God the Father, Oh wondrous and unsurpassable felicity of man, to whom it is granted to have what he chooses, to be what he wills to be! The brutes, from the moment of their birth, bring with them, as Lucilius says, ``from their mother's womb'' all that they will ever possess. The highest spiritual beings were, from the very moment of creation, or soon thereafter, fixed in the mode of being which would be theirs through measureless eternities. But upon man, at the moment of his creation, God bestowed seeds pregnant with all possibilities, the germs of every form of life. Whichever of these a man shall cultivate, the same will mature and bear fruit in him. If vegetative, he will become a plant; if sensual, he will become brutish; if rational, he will reveal himself a heavenly being; if intellectual, he will be an angel and the son of God. And if, dissatisfied with the lot of all creatures, he should recollect himself into the center of his own unity, he will there become one spirit with God, in the solitary darkness of the Father, Who is set above all things, himself transcend all creatures.

Who then will not look with awe upon this our chameleon, or who, at least, will look with greater admiration on any other being? This creature, man, whom Asclepius the Athenian, by reason of this very mutability, this nature capable of transforming itself, quite rightly said was symbolized in the mysteries by the figure of Proteus. This is the source of those metamorphoses, or transformations, so celebrated among the Hebrews and among the Pythagoreans; for even the esoteric theology of the Hebrews at times transforms the holy Enoch into that angel of divinity which is sometimes called malakh-ha-shekhinah and at other times transforms other personages into divinities of other names; while the Pythagoreans transform men guilty of crimes into brutes or even, if we are to believe Empedocles, into plants; and Mohammed, imitating them, was known frequently to say that the man who deserts the divine law becomes a brute. And he was right; for it is not the bark that makes the tree, but its insensitive and unresponsive nature; nor the hide which makes the beast of burden, but its brute and sensual soul; nor the orbicular form which makes the heavens, but their harmonious order. Finally, it is not freedom from a body, but its spiritual intelligence, which makes the angel. If you see a man dedicated to his stomach, crawling on the ground, you see a plant and not a man; or if you see a man bedazzled by the empty forms of the imagination, as by the wiles of Calypso, and through their alluring solicitations made a slave to his own senses, you see a brute and not a man. If, however, you see a philosopher, judging and distinguishing all things according to the rule of reason, him shall you hold in veneration, for he is a creature of heaven and not of earth; if, finally, a pure contemplator, unmindful of the body, wholly withdrawn into the inner chambers of the mind, here indeed is neither a creature of earth nor a heavenly creature, but some higher divinity, clothed in human flesh.

Who then will not look with wonder upon man, upon man who, not without reason in the sacred Mosaic and Christian writings, is designated sometimes by the term ``all flesh'' and sometimes by the term ``every creature,'' because he molds, fashions and transforms himself into the likeness of all flesh and assumes the characteristic power of every form of life? This is why Evantes the Persian in his exposition of the Chaldean theology, writes that man has no inborn and proper semblance, but many which are extraneous and adventitious: whence the Chaldean saying: ``Enosh hu shinnujim vekammah tebhaoth haj'' --- ``man is a living creature of varied, multiform and ever-changing nature.''

But what is the purpose of all this? That we may understand --- since we have been born into this condition of being what we choose to be --- that we ought to be sure above all else that it may never be said against us that, born to a high position, we failed to appreciate it, but fell instead to the estate of brutes and uncomprehending beasts of burden; and that the saying of Aspah the Prophet, ``You are all Gods and sons of the Most High,'' might rather be true; and finally that we may not, through abuse of the generosity of a most indulgent Father, pervert the free option which he has given us from a saving to a damning gift. Let a certain saving ambition invade our souls so that, impatient of mediocrity, we pant after the highest things and (since, if we will, we can) bend all our efforts to their attainment. Let us disdain things of earth, hold as little worth even the astral orders and, putting behind us all the things of this world, hasten to that court beyond the world, closest to the most exalted Godhead. There, as the sacred mysteries tell us, the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones occupy the first places; but, unable to yield to them, and impatient of any second place, let us emulate their dignity and glory. And, if we will it, we shall be inferior to them in nothing.

How must we proceed and what must we do to realize this ambition? Let us observe what they do, what kind of life they lead. For if we lead this kind of life (and we can) we shall attain their same estate. The Seraphim burns with the fire of charity; from the Cherubim flashes forth the splendor of intelligence; the Thrones stand firm with the firmness of justice. If, consequently, in the pursuit of the active life we govern inferior things by just criteria, we shall be established in the firm position of the Thrones. If, freeing ourselves from active care, we devote our time to contemplation, meditating upon the Creator in His work, and the work in its Creator, we shall be resplendent with the light of the Cherubim. If we burn with love for the Creator only, his consuming fire will quickly transform us into the flaming likeness of the Seraphim. Above the Throne, that is, above the just judge, God sits, judge of the ages. Above the Cherub, that is, the contemplative spirit, He spreads His wings, nourishing him, as it were, with an enveloping warmth. For the spirit of the Lord moves upon the waters, those waters which are above the heavens and which, according to Job, praise the Lord in pre-aurorial hymns. Whoever is a Seraph, that is a lover, is in God and God is in him; even, it may be said, God and he are one. Great is the power of the Thrones, which we attain by right judgement, highest of all the sublimity of the Seraphim which we attain by loving.

But how can anyone judge or love what he does not know? Moses loved the God whom he had seen and as judge of his people he administered what he had previously seen in contemplation on the mountain. Therefore the Cherub is the intermediary and by his light equally prepares us for the fire of the Seraphim and the judgement of the Thrones. This is the bond which unites the highest minds, the Palladian order which presides over contemplative philosophy; this is then the bond which before all else we must emulate, embrace and comprehend, whence we may be rapt to the heights of love or descend, well instructed and prepared, to the duties of the practical life. But certainly it is worth the effort, if we are to form our life on the model of the Cherubim, to have familiarly before our eyes both its nature and its quality as well as the duties and the functions proper to it. Since it is not granted to us, flesh as we are and knowledgeable only the things of earth, to attain such knowledge by our own efforts, let us have recourse to the ancient Fathers. They can give us the fullest and most reliable testimony concerning these matters because they had an almost domestic and connatural knowledge of them.

Let us ask the Apostle Paul, that vessel of election, in what activity he saw the armies of the Cherubim engaged when he was rapt into the third heaven. He will answer, according to the interpretation of Dionysius, that he saw them first being purified, then illuminated, and finally made perfect. We, therefore, imitating the life of the Cherubim here on earth, by refraining the impulses of our passions through moral science, by dissipating the darkness of reason by dialectic --- thus washing away, so to speak, the filth of ignorance and vice --- may likewise purify our souls, so that the passions may never run rampant, nor reason, lacking restraint, range beyond its natural limits. Then may we suffuse our purified souls with the light of natural philosophy, bringing it to final perfection by the knowledge of divine things.

Lest we be satisfied to consult only those of our own faith and tradition, let us also have recourse to the patriarch, Jacob, whose likeness, carved on the throne of glory, shines out before us. This wisest of the Fathers who though sleeping in the lower world, still has his eyes fixed on the world above, will admonish us. He will admonish, however, in a figure, for all things appeared in figures to the men of those times: a ladder rises by many rungs from earth to the height of heaven and at its summit sits the Lord, while over its rungs the contemplative angels move, alternately ascending and descending. If this is what we, who wish to imitate the angelic life, must do in our turn, who, I ask, would dare set muddied feet or soiled hands to the ladder of the Lord? It is forbidden, as the mysteries teach, for the impure to touch what is pure. But what are these hands, these feet, of which we speak? The feet, to be sure, of the soul: that is, its most despicable portion by which the soul is held fast to earth as a root to the ground; I mean to say, it alimentary and nutritive faculty where lust ferments and voluptuous softness is fostered. And why may we not call ``the hand'' that irascible power of the soul, which is the warrior of the appetitive faculty, fighting for it and foraging for it in the dust and the sun, seizing for it all things which, sleeping in the shade, it will devour? Let us bathe in moral philosophy as in a living stream, these hands, that is, the whole sensual part in which the lusts of the body have their seat and which, as the saying is, holds the soul by the scruff of the neck, let us be flung back from that ladder as profane and polluted intruders. Even this, however, will not be enough, if we wish to be the companions of the angels who traverse the ladder of Jacob, unless we are first instructed and rendered able to advance on that ladder duly, step by step, at no point to stray from it and to complete the alternate ascensions and descents. When we shall have been so prepared by the art of discourse or of reason, then, inspired by the spirit of the Cherubim, exercising philosophy through all the rungs of the ladder --- that is, of nature --- we shall penetrate being from its center to its surface and from its surface to its center. At one time we shall descend, dismembering with titanic force the ``unity'' of the ``many,'' like the members of Osiris; at another time, we shall ascend, recollecting those same members, by the power of Phoebus, into their original unity. Finally, in the bosom of the Father, who reigns above the ladder, we shall find perfection and peace in the felicity of theological knowledge.

Let us also inquire of the just Job, who made his covenant with the God of life even before he entered into life, what, above all else, the supreme God desires of those tens of thousands of beings which surround Him. He will answer, without a doubt: peace, just as it is written in the pages of Job: He establishes peace in the high reaches of heaven. And since the middle order interprets the admonitions of the higher to the lower orders, the words of Job the theologian may well be interpreted for us by Empedocles the philosopher. Empedocles teaches us that there is in our souls a dual nature; the one bears us upwards toward the heavenly regions; by the other we are dragged downward toward regions infernal, through friendship and discord, war and peace; so witness those verses in which he laments that, torn by strife and discord, like a madman, in flight from the gods, he is driven into the depths of the sea. For it is a patent thing, O Fathers, that many forces strive within us, in grave, intestine warfare, worse than the civil wars of states. Equally clear is it that, if we are to overcome this warfare, if we are to establish that peace which must establish us finally among the exalted of God, philosophy alone can compose and allay that strife. In the first place, if our man seeks only truce with his enemies, moral philosophy will restrain the unreasoning drives of the protean brute, the passionate violence and wrath of the lion within us. If, acting on wiser counsel, we should seek to secure an unbroken peace, moral philosophy will still be at hand to fulfill our desires abundantly; and having slain either beast, like sacrificed sows, it will establish an inviolable compact of peace between the flesh and the spirit. Dialectic will compose the disorders of reason torn by anxiety and uncertainty amid the conflicting hordes of words and captious reasonings. Natural philosophy will reduce the conflict of opinions and the endless debates which from every side vex, distract and lacerate the disturbed mind. It will compose this conflict, however, in such a manner as to remind us that nature, as Heraclitus wrote, is generated by war and for this reason is called by Homer, ``strife.'' Natural philosophy, therefore, cannot assure us a true and unshakable peace. To bestow such peace is rather the privilege and office of the queen of the sciences, most holy theology. Natural philosophy will at best point out the way to theology and even accompany us along the path, while theology, seeing us from afar hastening to draw close to her, will call out: ``Come unto me you who are spent in labor and I will restore you; come to me and I will give you the peace which the world and nature cannot give.''

Summoned in such consoling tones and invited with such kindness, like earthly Mercuries, we shall fly on winged feet to embrace that most blessed mother and there enjoy the peace we have longed for: that most holy peace, that indivisible union, that seamless friendship through which all souls will not only be at one in that one mind which is above every mind, but, in a manner which passes expression, will really be one, in the most profound depths of being. This is the friendship which the Pythagoreans say is the purpose of all philosophy. This is the peace which God established in the high places of the heaven and which the angels, descending to earth, announced to men of good will, so that men, ascending through this peace to heaven, might become angels. This is the peace which we would wish for our friends, for our age, for every house into which we enter and for our own soul, that through this peace it may become the dwelling of God; sop that, too, when the soul, by means of moral philosophy and dialectic shall have purged herself of her uncleanness, adorned herself with the disciplines of philosophy as with the raiment of a prince's court and crowned the pediments of her doors with the garlands of theology, the King of Glory may descend and, coming with the Father, take up his abode with her. If she prove worthy of so great a guest, she will, through his boundless clemency, arrayed in the golden vesture of the many sciences as in a nuptial gown, receive him, not as a guest merely, but as a spouse. And rather than be parted from him, she will prefer to leave her own people and her father's house. Forgetful of her very self she will desire to die to herself in order to live in her spouse, in whose eyes the death of his saints is infinitely precious: I mean that death --- if the very plenitude of life can be called death --- whose meditation wise men have always held to be the special study of philosophy.

Let us also cite Moses himself, who is but little removed from the living well-spring of the most holy and ineffable understanding by whose nectar the angels are inebriated. Let us listen to the venerable judge as he enunciates his laws to us who live in the desert solitude of the body: ``Let those who, still unclean, have need of moral philosophy, dwell with the peoples outside the tabernacles, under the open sky, until, like the priests of Thessaly, they shall have cleansed themselves. Those who have already brought order into their lives may be received into the tabernacle, but still may not touch the sacred vessels. Let them rather first, as zealous levites, in the service of dialectic, minister to the holy offices of philosophy. When they shall themselves be admitted to those offices, they may, as priests of philosophy, contemplate the many-colored throne of the higher God, that is the courtly palace of the star-hung heavens, the heavenly candelabrum aflame with seven lights and elements which are the furry veils of this tabernacle; so that, finally, having been permitted to enter, through the merit of sublime theology, into the innermost chambers of the temple, with no veil of images interposing itself, we may enjoy the glory of divinity.'' This is what Moses beyond a doubt commands us, admonishing, urging and exhorting us to prepare ourselves, while we may, by means of philosophy, a road to future heavenly glory.

In fact, however, the dignity of the liberal arts, which I am about to discuss, and their value to us is attested not only by the Mosaic and Christian mysteries but also by the theologies of the most ancient times. What else is to be understood by the stages through which the initiates must pass in the mysteries of the Greeks? These initiates, after being purified by the arts which we might call expiatory, moral philosophy and dialectic, were granted admission to the mysteries. What could such admission mean but the interpretation of occult nature by means of philosophy? Only after they had been prepared in this way did they receive ``Epopteia,'' that is, the immediate vision of divine things by the light of theology. Who would not long to be admitted to such mysteries? Who would not desire, putting all human concerns behind him, holding the goods of fortune in contempt and little minding the goods of the body, thus to become, while still a denizen of earth, a guest at the table of the gods, and, drunk with the nectar of eternity, receive, while still a mortal, the gift of immortality? Who would not wish to be so inspired by those Socratic frenzies which Plato sings in the Phaedrus that, swiftly fleeing this place, that is, this world fixed in evil, by the oars, so to say, both of feet and wings, he might reach the heavenly Jerusalem by the swiftest course? Let us be driven, O Fathers, by those Socratic frenzies which lift us to such ecstasy that our intellects and our very selves are united to God. And we shall be moved by them in this way as previously we have done all that it lies in us to do. If, by moral philosophy, the power of our passions shall have been restrained by proper controls so that they achieve harmonious accord; and if, by dialectic, our reason shall have progressed by an ordered advance, then, smitten by the frenzy of the Muses, we shall hear the heavenly harmony with the inward ears of the spirit. Then the leader of the Muses, Bacchus, revealing to us in our moments of philosophy, through his mysteries, that is, the visible signs of nature, the invisible things of God, will make us drunk with the richness of the house of God; and there, if, like Moses, we shall prove entirely faithful, most sacred theology will supervene to inspire us with redoubled ecstasy. For, raised to the most eminent height of theology, whence we shall be able to measure with the rod of indivisible eternity all things that are and that have been; and, grasping the primordial beauty of things, like the seers of Phoebus, we shall become the winged lovers of theology. And at last, smitten by the ineffable love as by a sting, and, like the Seraphim, filled with the godhead, we shall be, no longer ourselves, but the very One who made us.

The sacred names of Apollo, to anyone who penetrates their meanings and the mysteries they conceal, clearly show that God is a philosopher no less than a seer; but since Ammonius has amply treated this theme, there is no occasion for me to expound it anew. Nevertheless, O Fathers, we cannot fail to recall those three Delphic precepts which are so very necessary for everyone about to enter the most holy and august temple, not of the false, but of the true Apollo who illumines every soul as it enters this world. You will see that they exhort us to nothing else but to embrace with all our powers this tripartite philosophy which we are now discussing. As a matter of fact that aphorism: meden agan, this is: ``Nothing in excess,'' duly prescribes a measure and rule for all the virtues through the concept of the ``Mean'' of which moral philosophy treats. In like manner, that other aphorism gnothi seauton, that is, ``Know thyself,'' invites and exhorts us to the study of the whole nature of which the nature of man is the connecting link and the ``mixed potion''; for he who knows himself knows all things in himself, as Zoroaster first and after him Plato, in the Alcibiades, wrote. Finally, enlightened by this knowledge, through the aid of natural philosophy, being already close to God, employing the theological salutation ei, that is ``Thou art,'' we shall blissfully address the true Apollo on intimate terms.

Let us also seek the opinion of Pythagoras, that wisest of men, known as a wise man precisely because he never thought himself worthy of that name. His first precept to us will be: ``Never sit on a bushel''; never, that is, through slothful inaction to lose our power of reason, that faculty by which the mind examines, judges and measures all things; but rather unremittingly by the rule and exercise of dialectic, to direct it and keep it agile. Next he will warn us of two things to be avoided at all costs: Neither to make water facing the sun, nor to cut our nails while offering sacrifice. Only when, by moral philosophy, we shall have evacuated the weakening appetites of our too-abundant pleasures and pared away, like nail clippings, the sharp points of anger and wrath in our souls, shall we finally begin to take part in the sacred rites, that is, the mysteries of Bacchus of which we have spoken and to dedicate ourselves to that contemplation of which the Sun is rightly called the father and the guide. Finally, Pythagoras will command us to ``Feed the cock''; that is, to nourish the divine part of our soul with the knowledge of divine things as with substantial food and heavenly ambrosia. This is the cock whose visage is the lion, that is, all earthly power, holds in fear and awe. This is the cock to whom, as we read in Job, all understanding was given. At this cock's crowing, erring man returns to his senses. This is the cock which every day, in the morning twilight, with the stars of morning, raises a Te Deum to heaven. This is the cock which Socrates, at the hour of his death, when he hoped he was about to join the divinity of his spirit to the divinity of the higher world and when he was already beyond danger of any bodily illness, said that he owed to Asclepius, that is, the healer of souls.

Let us also pass in review the records of the Chaldeans; there we shall see (if they are to be believed) that the road to happiness, for mortals, lies through these same arts. The Chaldean interpreters write that it was a saying of Zoroaster that the soul is a winged creature. When her wings fall from her, she is plunged into the body; but when they grow strong again, she flies back to the supernal regions. And when his disciples asked him how they might insure that their souls might be well plumed and hence swift in flight he replied: ``Water them well with the waters of life.'' And when they persisted, asking whence they might obtain these waters of life, he answered (as he was wont) in a parable: ``The Paradise of God is bathed and watered by four rivers; from these same sources you may draw the waters which will save you. The name of the river which flows from the north is Pischon which means, `the Right.' That which flows from the west is Gichon, that is, `Expiation.' The river flowing from the east is named Chiddekel, that is, `Light,' while that, finally, from the south is Perath, which may be understood as `Compassion.' '' Consider carefully and with full attention, O Fathers, what these deliverances of Zoroaster might mean. Obviously, they can only mean that we should, by moral science, as by western waves, wash the uncleanness from our eyes; that, by dialectic, as by a reading taken by the northern star, our gaze must be aligned with the right. Then, that we should become accustomed to bear, in the contemplation of nature, the still feeble light of truth, like the first rays of the rising sun, so that finally we may, through theological piety and the most holy cult of God, become able, like the eagles of heaven, to bear the effulgent splendor of the noonday sun. These are, perhaps, those ``morning, midday and evening thoughts'' which David first celebrated and on which St. Augustine later expatiated. This is the noonday light which inflames the Seraphim toward their goal and equally illuminates the Cherubim. This is the promised land toward which our ancient father Abraham was ever advancing; this the region where, as the teachings of the Cabalists and the Moors tell us, there is no place for unclean spirits. And if we may be permitted, even in the form of a riddle, to say anything publicly about the deeper mysteries: since the precipitous fall of man has left his mind in a vertiginous whirl and and since according to Jeremiah, death has come in through the windows to infect our hearts and bowels with evil, let us call upon Raphael, the heavenly healer that by moral philosophy and dialectic, as with healing drugs, he may release us. When we shall have been restored to health, Gabriel, the strength of God, will abide in us. Leading us through the marvels of nature and pointing out to us everywhere the power and the goodness of God, he will deliver us finally to the care of the High Priest Michael. He, in turn, will adorn those who have successfully completed their service to philosophy with the priesthood of theology as with a crown of precious stones.

These are the reasons, most reverend Fathers, which not only led, but even compelled me, to the study of philosophy. And I should not have undertaken to expound them, except to reply to those who are wont to condemn the study of philosophy, especially among men of high rank, but also among those of modest station. For the whole study of philosophy (such is the unhappy plight of our time) is occasion for contempt and contumely, rather than honor and glory. The deadly and monstrous persuasion has invaded practically all minds, that philosophy ought not to be studied at all or by very few people; as though it were a thing of little worth to have before our eyes and at our finger-tips, as matters we have searched out with greatest care, the causes of things, the ways of nature and the plan of the universe, God's counsels and the mysteries of heaven and earth, unless by such knowledge on might procure some profit or favor for oneself. Thus we have reached the point, it is painful to recognize, where the only persons accounted wise are those who can reduce the pursuit of wisdom to a profitable traffic; and chaste Pallas, who dwells among men only by the generosity of the gods, is rejected, hooted, whistled at in scorn, with no one to love or befriend her unless, by prostituting herself, she is able to pay back into the strongbox of her lover the ill-procured price of her deflowered virginity. I address all these complaints, with the greatest regret and indignation, not against the princes of our times, but against the philosophers who believe and assert that philosophy should not be pursued because no monetary value or reward is assigned it, unmindful that by this sign they disqualify themselves as philosophers. Since their whole life is concentrated on gain and ambition, they never embrace the knowledge of the truth for its own sake. This much will I say for myself --- and on this point I do not blush for praising myself --- that I have never philosophized save for the sake of philosophy, nor have I ever desired or hoped to secure from my studies and my laborious researches any profit or fruit save cultivation of mind and knowledge of the truth --- things I esteem more and more with the passage of time. I have also been so avid for this knowledge and so enamored of it that I have set aside all private and public concerns to devote myself completely to contemplation; and from it no calumny of jealous persons, nor any invective from enemies of wisdom has ever been able to detach me. Philosophy has taught me to rely on my own convictions rather than on the judgements of others and to concern myself less with whether I am well thought of than whether what I do or say is evil.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Thu Aug 11, 2022 10:15 pm

Part 2 of 2

I was not unaware, most revered Fathers, that this present disputation of mine would be as acceptable and as pleasing to you, who favor all the good arts and who have consented to grace it with your presence, as it would be irritating and offensive to many others. I am also aware that there is no dearth of those who have condemned my undertaking before this and continue to do so on a number of grounds. But this has always been the case: works which are well-intentioned and sincerely directed to virtue have always had no fewer --- not to say more --- detractors than those undertaken for questionable motives and for devious ends. Some persons disapprove the present type of disputation in general and this method of disputing in public about learned matters; they assert that they serve only the exhibition of talent and the display of opinion, rather than the increase of learning. Others do not disapprove this type of exercise, but resent the fact that at my age, a mere twenty-four years, I have dared to propose a disputation concerning the most subtle mysteries of Christian theology, the most debated points of philosophy and unfamiliar branches of learning; and that I have done so here, in this most renowned of cities, before a large assembly of very learned men, in the presence of the Apostolic Senate. Still others have ceded my right so to dispute, but have not conceded that I might dispute nine hundred theses, asserting that such a project is superfluous, over-ambitious and beyond my powers. I should have acceded to these objections willingly and immediately, if the philosophy which I profess had so counseled me. Nor should I now undertake to reply to them, as my philosophy urges me to do, if I believed that this disputation between us were undertaken for purposes of mere altercation and litigation. Therefore, let all intention of denigration and exasperation be purged from our minds and with it that malice which, as Plato writes, is never present in the angelic choirs. Let us amicably decide whether it be admissible for me to proceed with my disputation and whether I should venture so large a number of questions.

I shall not, in the first place, have much to say against those who disapprove this type of public disputation. It is a crime, --- if it be a crime --- which I share with all you, most excellent doctors, who have engaged in such exercises on many occasions to the enhancement of your reputations, as well as with Plato and Aristotle and all the most esteemed philosophers of every age. These philosophers of the past all thought that nothing could profit them more in their search for wisdom than frequent participation in public disputation. Just as the powers of the body are made stronger through gymnastic, the powers of the mind grow in strength and vigor in this arena of learning. I am inclined to believe that the poets, when they sang of the arms of Pallas and the Hebrews, when they called the barzel, that is, the sword, the symbol of men of wisdom, could have meant nothing by these symbols but this type of contest, at once so necessary and so honorable for the acquisition of knowledge. This may also be the reason why the Chaldeans, at the birth of a man destined to be a philosopher, described a horoscope in which Mars confronted Mercury from three distinct angles. This is as much as to say that should these assemblies and these contests be abandoned, all philosophy would become sluggish and dormant.

It is more difficult for me, however, to find a line of defense against those who tell me that I am unequal to the undertaking. If I say that I am equal to it, I shall appear to entertain an immodestly high opinion of myself. If I admit that I am unequal to it, while persisting in it, I shall certainly risk being called temerarious and imprudent. You see the difficulties into which I have fallen, the position in which I am placed. I cannot, without censure, promise something about myself, nor, without equal censure, fail in what I promise. Perhaps I can invoke that saying of Job: ``The spirit is in all men'' or take consolation in what was said to Timothy: ``Let no man despise your youth.'' But to speak from my own conscience, I might say with greater truth that there is nothing singular about me. I admit that I am devoted to study and eager in the pursuit of the good arts. Nevertheless, I do not assume nor arrogate to myself the title learned. If, consequently, I have taken such a great burden on my shoulders, it is not because I am ignorant of my own weaknesses. Rather, it is because I understand that in this kind of learned contest the real victory lies in being vanquished. Even the weakest, consequently, ought not to shun them, but should seek them out, as well they may. For the one who is bested receives from his conqueror, not an injury but a benefit; he returns to his house richer than he left, that is, more learned and better armed for future contests. Inspired by such hope, though myself but a weak soldier, I have not been afraid to enter so dangerous a contest even against the very strongest and vigorous opponents. Whether, in doing so, I have acted foolishly or not might better be judged from the outcome of the contest than from my age.

I must, in the third place, answer those who are scandalized by the large number of propositions and the variety of topics I have proposed for disputation, as though the burden, however great it may be, rested on their shoulders and not, as it does, on mine. Surely it is unbecoming and captious to want to set limits to another's efforts and, as Cicero says, to desire mediocrity in those things in which the rule should be: the more the better. In undertaking so great a venture only one alternative confronted me: success or failure. If I should succeed, I do not see how it would be more praiseworthy to succeed in defending ten theses than in defending nine hundred. If I should fail, those who hate me will have grounds for disparagement, while those who love me will have an occasion to excuse me. In so large and important an undertaking it would seem that a young man who fails through weakness of talent or want of learning deserves indulgence rather than censure. For as the poet says,

if powers fail, there shall be praise for daring; and in great undertaking, to have willed is enough.
In our own day, many scholars, imitating Gorgias of Leontini, have been accustomed to dispute, not nine hundred questions merely, but the whole range of questions concerning all the arts and have been praised for it. Why should not I, then, without incurring criticism, be permitted to discuss a large number of questions indeed, but questions which are clear and determined in their scope? They reply, this is superfluous and ambitious. I protest that, in my case, no superfluity is involved, but that all is necessary. If they consider the method of my philosophy they will feel compelled, even against their inclinations, to recognize this necessity. All those who attach themselves to one or another of the philosophers, to Thomas, for instance or Scotus, who at present enjoy the widest following, can indeed test their doctrine in a discussion of a few questions. By contrast, I have so trained myself that, committed to the teachings of no one man, I have ranged through all the masters of philosophy, examined all their works, become acquainted with all schools. As a consequence, I have had to introduce all of them into the discussion lest, defending a doctrine peculiar to one, I might seem committed to it and thus to deprecate the rest. While a few of the theses proposed concern individual philosophers, it was inevitable that a great number should concern all of them together. Nor should anyone condemn me on the grounds that ``wherever the storm blows me, there I remain as a guest.'' For it was a rule among the ancients, in the case of all writers, never to leave unread any commentaries which might be available. Aristotle observed this rule so carefully that Plato called him: auagnooies, that is, ``the reader.'' It is certainly a mark of excessive narrowness of mind to enclose oneself within one Porch or Academy; nor can anyone reasonably attach himself to one school or philosopher, unless he has previously become familiar with them all. In addition, there is in each school some distinctive characteristic which it does not share with any other.
To begin with the men of our own faith to whom philosophy came last, there is in Duns Scotus both vigor and distinction, in Thomas solidity and sense of balance, in Egidius, lucidity and precision, in Francis, depth and acuteness, in Albertus [Magnus] a sense of ultimate issues, all-embracing and grand, in Henry, as it has seemed to me, always an element of sublimity which inspires reverence. Among the Arabians, there is in Averroës something solid and unshaken, in Avempace, as in Al-Farabi, something serious and deeply meditated; in Avicenna, something divine and platonic. Among the Greeks philosophy was always brilliant and, among the earliest, even chaste: in Simplicus it is rich and abundant, in Themistius elegant and compendious, in Alexander, learned and self-consistent, in Theophrastus, worked out with great reflection, in Ammonius, smooth and pleasing. If you turn to the Platonists, to mention but a few, you will, in Porphyry, be delighted by the wealth of matter and by his preoccupation with many aspects of religion; in Iamblichus, you will be awed by his knowledge of occult philosophy and the mysteries of the barbarian peoples; in Plotinus, you will find it impossible to single out one thing for admiration, because he is admirable under every aspect. Platonists themselves, sweating over his pages, understand him only with the greatest difficulty when, in his oblique style, he teaches divinely about divine things and far more than humanly about things human. I shall pass over the more recent figures, Proclus, and those others who derive from him, Damacius, Olympiodorus and many more in whom that to theion, that is, that divine something which is the special mark of the Platonists, always shines out.

It should be added that any school which attacks the more established truths and by clever slander ridicules the valid arguments of reason confirms, rather than weakens, the truth itself, which, like embers, is fanned to life, rather than extinguished by stirring. These considerations have motivated me in my determination to bring to men's attention the opinions of all schools rather than the doctrine of some one or other (as some might have preferred), for it seems to me that by the confrontation of many schools and the discussion of many philosophical systems that ``effulgence of truth'' of which Plato writes in his letters might illuminate our minds more clearly, like the sun rising from the sea. What should have been our plight had only the philosophical thought of the Latin authors, that is, Albert, Thomas, Scotus, Egidius, Francis and Henry, been discussed, while that of the Greeks and the Arabs was passed over, since all the thought of the barbarian nations was inherited by the Greeks and from the Greeks came down to us? For this reason, our thinkers have always been satisfied, in the field of philosophy, to rest on the discoveries of foreigners and simply to perfect the work of others. What profit would have dervied from discussing natural philosophy with the Peripatetics, if the Academy of the Platonists had not also participated in the exchange, for the doctrine of the latter, even when it touched on divine matters, has always (as St. Augustine bears witness) been esteemed the most elevated of all philosophies? And this in turn has been the reason why I have, for the first time after many centuries of neglect (and there is nothing invidious in my saying so) brought it forth again for public examination and discussion. And what would it have profited us if, having discussed the opinions of innumerable others, like asymboli, at the banquet of wise men, we should contribute nothing of our own, nothing conceived and elaborated in our own mind? Indeed, it is the characteristic of the impotent (as Seneca writes) to have their knowledge all written down in their note-books, as though the discoveries of those who preceded us had closed the path to our own efforts, as though the power of nature had become effete in us and could bring forth nothing which, if it could not demonstrate the truth, might at least point to it from afar. The farmer hates sterility in his field and the husband deplores it in his wife; even more then must the divine mind hate the sterile mind with which it is joined and associated, because it hopes from that source to have offspring of such a high nature.

For these reasons, I have not been content to repeat well-worn doctrines, but have proposed for disputation many points of the early theology of Hermes Trismegistus, many theses drawn from the teachings of the Chaldeans and the Pythagoreans, from the occult mysteries of the Hebrews and, finally, a considerable number of propositions concerning both nature and God which we ourselves have discovered and worked out. In the first place, we have proposed a harmony between Plato and Aristotle, such as many before this time indeed believed to exist but which no one has satisfactorily established. Boethius, among Latin writers, promised to compose such a harmony, but he never carried his proposal to completion. St. Augustine also writes, in his Contra Academicos, that many others tried to prove the same thing, that is, that the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle were identical, and by the most subtle arguments. For example, John the Grammarian held that Aristotle differed from Plato only for those who did not grasp Plato's thought; but he left it to posterity to prove it. We have, in addition, adduced a great number of passages in which Scotus and Thomas, and others in which Averroës and Avicenna, have heretofore been thought to disagree, but which I assert are in harmony with one another.

In the second place, along with my own reflections on and developments of both the Aristotelian and the Platonic philosophies, I have adduced seventy-two theses in physics and metaphysics. If I am not mistaken (and this will become clearer in the course of the proposed disputation) anyone subscribing to these theses will be able to resolve any question proposed to him in natural philosophy or theology on a principle quite other than that taught us in the philosophy which is at present to be learned in the schools and is taught by the masters of the present generation. Nor ought anyone to be surprised, that in my early years, at a tender age at which I should hardly be permitted to read the writings of others (as some have insinuated) I should wish to propose a new philosophy. They ought rather to praise this new philosophy, if it is well defended, or reject it, if it is refuted. Finally, since it will be their task to judge my discoveries and my scholarship, they ought to look to the merit or demerit of these and not to the age of their author.

I have, in addition, introduced a new method of philosophizing on the basis of numbers. This method is, in fact, very old, for it was cultivated by the ancient theologians, by Pythagoras, in the first place, but also by Aglaophamos, Philolaus and Plato, as well as by the earliest Platonists; however, like other illustrious achievements of the past, it has through lack of interest on the part of succeeding generations, fallen into such desuetude, that hardly any vestiges of it are to be found. Plato writes in Epinomis that among all the liberal arts and contemplative sciences, the science of number is supreme and most divine. And in another place, asking why man is the wisest of animals, he replies, because he knows how to count. Similarly, Aristotle, in his Problems repeats this opinion. Abumasar writes that it was a favorite saying of Avenzoar of Babylon that the man who knows how to count, knows everything else as well. These opinions are certainly devoid of any truth if by the art of number they intend that art in which today merchants excel all other men; Plato adds his testimony to this view, admonishing us emphatically not to confuse this divine arithmetic with the arithmetic of the merchants. When, consequently, after long nights of study I seemed to myself to have thoroughly penetrated this Arithmetic, which is thus so highly extolled, I promised myself that in order to test the matter, I would try to solve by means of this method of number seventy-four questions which are considered, by common consent, among the most important in physics and divinity.

I have also proposed certain theses concerning magic, in which I have indicated that magic has two forms. One consists wholly in the operations and powers of demons, and consequently this appears to me, as God is my witness, an execrable and monstrous thing. The other proves, when thoroughly investigated, to be nothing else but the highest realization of natural philosophy. The Greeks noted both these forms. However, because they considered the first form wholly undeserving the name magic they called it goeteia, reserving the term mageia, to the second, and understanding by it the highest and most perfect wisdom. The term ``magus'' in the Persian tongue, according to Porphyry, means the same as ``interpreter'' and ``worshipper of the divine'' in our language. Moreover, Fathers, the disparity and dissimilarity between these arts is the greatest that can be imagined. Not the Christian religion alone, but all legal codes and every well-governed commonwealth execrates and condemns the first; the second, by contrast, is approved and embraced by all wise men and by all peoples solicitous of heavenly and divine things. The first is the most deceitful of arts; the second, a higher and holier philosophy. The former is vain and disappointing; the later, firm, solid and satisfying. The practitioner of the first always tries to conceal his addiction, because it always rebounds to shame and reproach, while the cultivation of the second, both in antiquity and at almost all periods, has been the source of the highest renown and glory in the field of learning. No philosopher of any worth, eager in pursuit of the good arts, was ever a student of the former, but to learn the latter, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Plato and Democritus crossed the seas. Returning to their homes, they, in turn, taught it to others and considered it a treasure to be closely guarded. The former, since it is supported by no true arguments, is defended by no writers of reputation; the latter, honored, as it were, in its illustrious progenitors, counts two principal authors: Zamolxis, who was imitated by Abaris the Hyperborean, and Zoroaster; not, indeed, the Zoroaster who may immediately come to your minds, but that other Zoroaster, the son of Oromasius. If we should ask Plato the nature of each of these forms of magic, he will respond in the Alcibiades that the magic of Zoroaster is nothing else than that science of divine things in which the kings of the Persians had their sons educated to that they might learn to rule their commonwealth on the pattern of the commonwealth of the universe. In the Charmides he will answer that the magic of Zamolxis is the medicine of the soul, because it brings temperance to the soul as medicine brings health to the body. Later Charondas, Damigeron, Apollonius, Osthanes and Dardanus continued in their footsteps, as did Homer, of whom we shall sometime prove, in a ``poetic theology'' we propose to write, that he concealed this doctrine, symbolically, in the wanderings of his Ulysses, just as he did all other learned doctrines. They were also followed by Eudoxus and Hermippus, as well as by practically all those who studied the Pythagorean and Platonic mysteries. Of later philosophers, I find that three had ferreted it out: the Arabian, Al-Kindi, Roger Bacon, and William of Paris. Plotinus also gives signs that he was aware of it in the passage in which he shows that the magician is the minister of nature and not merely its artful imitator. This very wise man approves and maintains this magic, while so abhorring that other that once, when he was invited to to take part in rites of evil spirits, he said that they ought rather to come to him, than he to go to them; and he spoke well. Just as that first form of magic makes man a slave and pawn of evil powers, the latter makes him their lord and master. That first form of magic cannot justify any claim to being either an art or a science while the latter, filled as it is with mysteries, embraces the most profound contemplation of the deepest secrets of things and finally the knowledge of the whole of nature. This beneficent magic, in calling forth, as it were, from their hiding places into the light the powers which the largess of God has sown and planted in the world, does not itself work miracles, so much as sedulously serve nature as she works her wonders. Scrutinizing, with greater penetration, that harmony of the universe which the Greeks with greater aptness of terms called sympatheia and grasping the mutual affinity of things, she applies to each thing those inducements (called the iugges of the magicians), most suited to its nature. Thus it draws forth into public notice the miracles which lie hidden in the recesses of the world, in the womb of nature, in the storehouses and secret vaults of God, as though she herself were their artificer. As the farmer weds his elms to the vines, so the ``magus'' unites earth to heaven, that is, the lower orders to the endowments and powers of the higher. Hence it is that this latter magic appears the more divine and salutary, as the former presents a monstrous and destructive visage. But the deepest reason for the difference is the fact that that first magic, delivering man over to the enemies of God, alienates him from God, while the second, beneficent magic, excites in him an admiration for the works of God which flowers naturally into charity, faith and hope. For nothing so surely impels us to the worship of God than the assiduous contemplation of His miracles and when, by means of this natural magic, we shall have examined these wonders more deeply, we shall more ardently be moved to love and worship Him in his works, until finally we shall be compelled to burst into song: ``The heavens, all of the earth, is filled with the majesty of your glory.'' But enough about magic. I have been led to say even this much because I know that there are many persons who condemn and hate it, because they do not understand it, just as dogs always bay at strangers.

I come now to those matters which I have drawn from the ancient mysteries of the Hebrews and here adduce in confirmation of the inviolable Catholic faith. Lest these matters be thought, by those to whom they are unfamiliar, bubbles of the imagination and tales of charlatans, I want everyone to understand what they are and what their true character is; whence they are drawn and who are the illustrious writers who testifying to them; how mysterious they are, and divine and necessary to men of our faith for the propagation of our religion in the face of the persistent calumnies of the Hebrews. Not famous Hebrew teachers alone, but, from among those of our own persuasion, Esdras, Hilary and Origen all write that Moses, in addition to the law of the five books which he handed down to posterity, when on the mount, received from God a more secret and true explanation of the law. They also say that God commanded Moses to make the law known to the people, but not to write down its interpretation or to divulge it, but to communicate it only to Jesu Nave who, in turn, was to reveal it to succeeding high priests under a strict obligation of silence. It was enough to indicate, through simple historical narrative, the power of God, his wrath against the unjust, his mercy toward the good, his justice toward all and to educate the people, by divine and salutary commands, to live well and blessedly and to worship in the true religion. Openly to reveal to the people the hidden mysteries and the secret intentions of the highest divinity, which lay concealed under the hard shell of the law and the rough vesture of language, what else could this be but to throw holy things to dogs and to strew gems among swine? The decision, consequently, to keep such things hidden from the vulgar and to communicate them only to the initiate, among whom alone, as Paul says, wisdom speaks, was not a counsel of human prudence but a divine command. And the philosophers of antiquity scrupulously observed this caution. Pythagoras wrote nothing but a few trifles which he confided to his daughter Dama, on his deathbed. The Sphinxes, which are carved on the temples of the Egyptians, warned that the mystic doctrines must be kept inviolate from the profane multitude by means of riddles. Plato, writing certain things to Dionysius concerning the highest substances, explained that he had to write in riddles ``lest the letter fall into other hands and others come to know the things I have intended for you.'' Aristotle used to say that the books of the Metaphysics in which he treats of divine matters were both published and unpublished. Is there any need for further instances? Origen asserts that Jesus Christ, the Teacher of Life, revealed many things to His disciples which they in turn were unwilling to commit to writing lest they become the common possession of the crowd. Dionysius the Areopagite gives powerful confirmation to this assertion when he writes that the more secret mysteries were transmitted by the founders of our religion ek nou eis vouv dia mesov logov, that is, from mind to mind, without commitment to writing, through the medium of of the spoken word alone. Because the true interpretation of the law given to Moses was, by God's command, revealed in almost precisely this way, it was called ``Cabala,'' which in Hebrew means the same as our word ``reception.'' The precise point is, of course, that the doctrine was received by one man from another not through written documents but, as a hereditary right, through a regular succession of revelations.

After Cyrus had delivered the Hebrews from the Babylonian captivity, and the Temple had been restored under Zorobabel, the Hebrews bethought themselves of restoring the Law. Esdras, who was head of the church [sic!] at the time, amended the book of Moses. He readily realized, moreover, that because of the exiles, the massacres, the flights and the captivity of the people of Israel, the practice established by the ancients of handing down the doctrines by word of mouth could not be maintained. Unless they were committed to writing, the heavenly teachings divinely handed down must inevitably perish, for the memory of them would not long endure. He decided, consequently, that all of the wise men still alive should be convened and that each should communicate to the convention all that he remembered about the mysteries of the Law. Their communications were then to be collected by scribes into seventy volumes (approximately the same number as there were members of the Sanhedrin). So that you need not accept my testimony alone, O Fathers, hear Esdras himself speaking: ``After forty days had passed, the All-Highest spoke and said: The first things which you wrote publish openly so that the worthy and unworthy alike may read; but the last seventy books conserve so that you may hand them on to the wise men among your people, for in these reside the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom and the river of knowledge. And I did these things.'' These are the very words of Esdras. These are the books of cabalistic wisdom. In these books, as Esdras unmistakably states, resides the springs of understanding, that is, the ineffable theology of the supersubstantial deity; the fountain of wisdom, that is, the precise metaphysical doctrine concerning intelligible and angelic forms; and the stream of wisdom, that is, the best established philosophy concerning nature. Pope Sixtus the Fourth, the immediate predecessor of our present pope, Innocent the Eight, under whose happy reign we are living, took all possible measures to ensure that these books would be translated into Latin for the public benefit of our faith and at the time of his death, three of them had already appeared. The Hebrews hold these same books in such reverence that no one under forty years of age is permitted even to touch them. I acquired these books at considerable expense and, reading them from beginning to end with the greatest attention and with unrelenting toil, I discovered in them (as God is my witness) not so much the Mosaic as the Christian religion. There was to be found the mystery of the Trinity, the Incarnation of the Word, the divinity of the Messiah; there one might also read of original sin, of its expiation by the Christ, of the heavenly Jerusalem, of the fall of the demons, of the orders of the angels, of the pains of purgatory and of hell. There I read the same things which we read every day in the pages of Paul and of Dionysius, Jerome and Augustine. In philosophical matters, it were as though one were listening to Pythagoras and Plato, whose doctrines bear so close an affinity to the Christian faith that our Augustine offered endless thanks to God that the books of the Platonists had fallen into his hands. In a word, there is no point of controversy between the Hebrews and ourselves on which the Hebrews cannot be confuted and convinced out the cabalistic writings, so that no corner is left for them to hide in. On this point I can cite a witness of the very greatest authority, the most learned Antonius Chronicus; on the occasion of a banquet in his house, at which I was also present, with his own ears he heard the Hebrew, Dactylus, a profound scholar of this lore, come round completely to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

To return, however, to our review of the chief points of my disputation: I have also adduced my conception of the manner in which the poems of Orpheus and Zoroaster ought to be interpreted. Orpheus is read by the Greeks in a text which is practically complete; Zoroaster is known to them in a corrupt text, while in Chaldea he is read in a form more nearly complete. Both are considered as the authors and fathers of ancient wisdom. I shall say nothing about Zoroaster who is mentioned so frequently by the Platonists and always with the greatest respect. Of Pythagoras, however, Iamblicus the Chaldean writes that he took the Orphic theology as the model on which he shaped and formed his own philosophy. For this precise reason the sayings of Pythagoras are called sacred, because, and to the degree that, they derive from the Orphic teachings. For from this source that occult doctrine of numbers and everything else that was great and sublime in Greek philosophy flowed as from its primitive source. Orpheus, however (and this was the case with all the ancient theologians) so wove the mysteries of his doctrines into the fabric of myths and so wrapped them about in veils of poetry, that one reading his hymns might well believe that there was nothing in them but fables and the veriest commonplaces. I have said this so that it might be known what labor was mine, what difficulty was involved, in drawing out the secret meanings of the occult philosophy from the deliberate tangles of riddles and the recesses of fable in which they were hidden; difficulty made all the greater by the fact that in a matter so weighty, abstruse and unexplored, I could count on no help from the work and efforts of other interpreters. And still like dogs they have come barking after me, saying that I have brought together an accumulation of trifles in order to make a great display by their sheer number. As though all did not concern ambiguous questions, subjects of sharpest controversy, over which the most important schools confront each other like gladiators. As though I had not brought to light many things quite unknown and unsuspected by these very men who now carp at me while styling themselves the leaders of philosophy. As a matter of fact, I am so completely free of the fault they attribute to me that I have tried to confine the discussion to fewer points than I might have raised. Had I wished, (as others are wont) to divide these questions into their constituent parts, and to dismember them, their number might well have increased to a point past counting. To say nothing of other matters, who is unaware that one of these nine hundred theses, that, namely, concerning the reconciliation of the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle might have been developed, without arousing any suspicion that I was affecting mere number, into six hundred or more by enumerating in due order those points on which others think that these philosophies differ and I, that they agree? For a certainty I shall speak out (though in a manner which is neither modest in itself nor conformable to my character), I shall speak out because those who envy me and detract me, force me to speak out. I have wanted to make clear in disputation, not only that I know a great many things, but also that I know a great many things which others do not know.

And now, reverend Fathers, in order that this claim may be vindicated by the fact, and in order that my address may no longer delay the satisfaction of your desire --- for I see, reverend doctors, with the greatest pleasure that you are girded and ready for the contest --- let us now, with the prayer that the outcome may be fortunate and favorable, as to the sound of trumpets, join battle.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Thu Sep 29, 2022 8:54 am

Eric Hebborn - Portrait of a Master Forger
by BBC
Mar 14, 2012

A documentary featuring an interview with Eric Hebborn at his home in Italy. Eric Hebborn (1934-1996) was a British painter and art forger and later an author. On January 8, 1996, Eric Hebborn was found lying in a street in Rome, his skull crushed with a blunt instrument. He died three days later in the hospital on January 11, 1996.


the dealer is not interested in art he's interested in
well basically money but you know worth of artists as good or bad as the price it fetches the art historian is not
really very interested in art I mean he studies it but he's much more interested in his career whether he's going to go
up in the nobody's we can come the head of some great museum look this is what he's really interested in and whether he
can get a knighthood because he knows a lot about Rembrandt you know but no one
would have ever given Rembrandt a knighthood for being Rembrandt you know serve it's all false values and art is
neglected nobody is studying it really and truly with the kind of honesty that
is necessary and although I can't myself claim to be a very honest man in fact
though many people think I'm an old clock I do feel that in this case at
least that I am honest I mean I do try to understand something about
medieval hilltop village of antiquity Corrado to the east of Rome as for centuries been home to painters and
sculptors 25 years ago English artist Eric had one came to live here how I
shall freeze after all this son Here I am a gentleman at home a palace and thy
loving and I love London and I love my English friends but when I'm in the
Piazza here a local the old boys you know I feel that we may do the same
stuff and they're not going to say all your your working-class guy I'm not
going to say to them in all peasant make it on we have our grass of wine together happy about I think I would
have been happy as artists in the relations and in the 20th century but I
would have liked to have been employed in a different way rather than sort of having to be on the fringes of society
were them being a little bit shaking all that heaven has devoted much of his life
to the study of the Renaissance artists in particular the drawings made by the old masters as preparatory sketches for
their oil paintings well I think what particularly appeals to people who are interested no mas joins it that they are
of spontaneous expression of the artists are obviously drawing very great deal in
whether they were made just sitting down doodling on his paper or of elaborate
finished drawing of made a say as the cartoon for a painting but you do get a much more personal feel I think from the
drawing how the artist I mean it is just I'm often Lee starting with Leonardo artists were really kind of thinking on
paper I've made drawings in the Dutch style in the Flemish style in the German
style in the Swiss style in the Italian style and I've even deigned to a few
english drawings and some French toys and I've normally
chosen important masters not necessarily the greatest because it's very hard to convince people nowadays when you turn
up with a Rembrandt or Michelangelo or Leonardo they say let's go tell somebody
else you know but nevertheless I've turned up with people like stefano delle
bella and caste Leonean 17th century martyrs of some importance including Rubens and then Dyck so I have done some
very very important artists and I wouldn't call gain for a wine artist
normal I call constable a minor artist and all these people I have I have done nothing for ebon claims to have made
over a thousand drawings in the style of scores of different artists from the 14th to the 20th century many of these
drawings are now in the possession of some of the greatest private and national collections around the world from the British Museum to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
I'm not a crook I'm just doing what people have always done during the
history of the world I mean ever since art was invented people have made
imitations of it shall we say and I believe that the real criminal if there
is one is the person who makes the false description I mean if I were to tell you
that these this statue here is by facts
Italy's for whoever it's been copied from I would be making false description even if I said it was Roman I would be
making a post description because it's a modern copy but that doesn't mean to say that you can't enjoy it I mean you can
enjoy the fake isn't necessarily bad as a work of art it is simply something
that's wrongly described and age sometimes gives dignity to imitations
providing there of some quality and they should be enjoyed for what they are rather than being questioned for what
they're not the sale of several drawings in the style of Gustus John to a specialist dealer in
London help finance have ones permanent moved to Italy in the summer of 1964 for
the next decade business was brisk on the top floor of an old Palazzo in the heart of Rome's antique district a
conveniently short walk from the Christie's sale room in Piazza Navona
for a christie's sale in rome in 1974 everyone supplied twenty-four drawings
in the style of various old masters these were attributed by Christie's to 16th century artists such as stefano
delle bella luca cambiaso FR Bartolomeo as a
self-styled dealer in old master drawings he born was able to offer his own efforts alongside perfectly genuine
examples he called this bread and butter business panini galleries and quickly re-established links with the London art
trade very soon after I went to court argues when a drawing was sent from
Italy from some galleries called - Neely galleries by the Ambrogio either old or
younger which had been in colleges in the 1930s it could be traced in a stock
book and I think it may even been exhibited I really can't remember the state and this seemed to us a perfectly
genuine nice drawing which the further they pleased to purchase back and as a
result I think I'm going to be asleep fairly shortly after us I thought I might call on Erica Berlin who lived
that time in room I bought a drawing in a sale not in one of the great sale room
such as Christie's and Sotheby's and I noticed on the back of it a label the
label of a dealer called corn Rd and I thought well you know if they had it's
probably a decent drawing and I took it home and it said that it was by Blue Eagle so I hung it on the wall nice play
proud I'd bought a boy girl for only 40 pounds I thought how the hell did I get it that cheap if it's a real boy Eagle
then Wright was there for a few months then I began to look at it Nathan no this is not a
boggle this is a copy I thought was an engravers coffee because in the old days
the only ways of only way of reproducing drawings as you know for the engraver to
make an engraving of it and we produce it so to make his engraving he first made a copy in the medium that the
artists had used I thought that's what it is is and engravers copy then I wondered to myself well why can't I copy
that this copy and make it little better then it'll be a little bit more like a viable so I said to work in that way and
I made a copy a very close copy an almost exact copy but I speeded up the
lines that if I gave a more vigorous movement and it did look a bit more like
a boy/girl to me when I'd finished and then I did something I rather regret
doing now I tore up the thing I copied the thing that been in the corn Rd frame
I flushed it down the lavatory I rather wish I hadn't because it would be nice now to compare you know perhaps time you
know perhaps I destroyed an original Weigel I hope not and it seems that the people in the
Metropolitan Museum think the same thing
I mean they they seem to be happy with my coffee I have talked very recent in
the last day or two to the Metropolitan Museum who naturally have subjected it to very close our tests such as tests
can be made and they say the paper is perfectly genuine the ink looks good for
drawing of that date and though naturally they're keeping an open mind about it they can see absolutely nothing
wrong with the dry I don't have to prove what I did it or not if they can't see it what kind of damned experts are they
I mean they should be able to say this is definitely by Michael but then you ask them they say yes this is definitely
by broeckel then you say to them is it by jangle the old or the gonca well
we're quite sure about that professor so-and-so says it's the younger professor so-and-so says it's
the older but it could be a very late follower that's my claim there are I
mean I wanted to test you can do for ink but that does P suppose they had to be
certain substances in the ink which were not known at their particular time but
for the most part I mean it would not help and anyway in order to do these yes you don't have to ruin the drawing so
that's up at the end of the day hopefully much better off I've just been in the forest they're freaking calm when
little water fires collecting oak galls and these I need for making alcohol ink
which is the kind of ink that parmigianino used in the 16th century
and this is a common recipe for Oh calling they're about thirty often that
I have in my collection in terms of recipe going into a drain water gun
Arabic and a little iron sulphide bian rusts and it eats through the paper many
old drawings that are consumed in this way in parts of the drawing I imitated that on the Pusa I did it I wouldn't
have done it on a more important drawing because it lowers the sail ability of the drawing when it's in bad condition I
mean if I'd meant that boo Center pass as a boo sampler if not I was not have
aged it in that way because the value would have gone down immensely but in
this case I thought well you know let's give it a really nice old pattern er make it convincing
so well that's what I did no ingredient is really secret because really chemical
analysis can discover it but I don't want to encourage forgery line by giving
away these tricks of the trade that people might use dishonestly
early part of my life I think is rather sad my father seems to have been always
out of work and my mother had many children the poor woman was under great
stress she seemed to have taken her you know revenge of the world myself and
she used to treat me well badly at the age of eight I was still trying my hand
at Roy found that if you light a swan vest a match you have a little piece of
charcoal at the end that you can draw with and dip it in the school inkwell in those days they had ink wasn't anything
to have them anymore but anyway I would do that and I would make sketches and the headmaster came around making
inspection and he saw that in my desk I had this matchstick and a piece of
sandpaper and he thought that I was playing with fire and he gave me a cleaning for it and I thought well I've
been punished for the deed no I shouldn't do it and set light to the
cloakroom and the fire began to spread and I got frightened and I thought I'd
better tell the headmaster mr. Percy what had happened so I poked my smoky
face round his door and said to him because I I couldn't I didn't know how
to put it on him please so I've set light to the school I recited a little poem we'd learn they went fire fire
mrs. Dyer where where mrs. Claire did
that map of smoke came into his study and I found myself in the juvenile court
being charged I was asked what I was guilty or not guilty of arson I didn't
know either of the words I didn't know the word guilty or arson I didn't know what it means but policemen standing
next to me said I say guilty son say I'm not safe guilty so that's what I did
and ended up in borstal that was a nun promising beginning
Berek he born arrived as a pupil at the Royal Academy about 1950 sound like the
Academy itself heaven was already steeped in the ways of the old masters very little comment made about one's
work apart from the odd revelation that
somebody had won a prize or one happy you see from a lot of prize we didn't
win any hardly know practically nothing I was a really very good sort of silent
creature I mean he just kept to himself he didn't mix with other students as far as I remember he was always I never
remember seeing him in the canteen or anything he was always around there painting these Varanasi green grounds and all
this time all his old master stuff which he painted very much in the old master
styluses my man thought he was a joke actually Karen Raye and Nancy Goldsworthy also studied with had one uh
it was a school that produced a lot of brilliant people of whom Eric was one
though not appearing too many to be so because he was very quiet but when you
talked to him you knew he was an interesting person straightaway oh I was madly in love with him yes sure I used
to say Nance is playing hard to get rid of when he was at the Royal Academy he
won all the prizes for drawing so we we're dealing with a very gifted
draftsman while he was still a student at the Royal Academy Eric highborn discovered that he was
color blind I had this curious thing I believe men
have it more often than women of being not being able to distinguish between certain grades and certain greens and I
sometimes paint pictures with fear screens which I just couldn't see and I thought they were delicate pearly grays
and in fact they were not and I had to look at the tubes of color and read the
label to make sure that I wasn't falling into this trap there was a time at the
when the hippies were around people were on LSD and I was given some inner cake I
didn't know the difference taken ground up and I was suddenly hallucinating and seeing things the most extraordinary way
and my color blind is seemed to clear up after that one 18th century Italian
draftsman whose architectural drawings have consistently attracted heaven is Giovanni Battista para Nazy a fine
example of this masters work a magnificent Roman port was sold to the National Gallery of Denmark for fourteen
thousand pounds in 1969 by the London dealer hands Kalman who was hence Kalman
because he's now dead he was an ax dealer in drawings and a very important
dealer in old masters who perhaps had the best stock in London of old master
Roy at one point even HAP's even better than Cornell jeez I sold quite a lot of drawings to him I
mean I imagine it went into the hundreds he you know put my work on the market in
large numbers and who important people there is a foreign asian in the nursery
with investigative denmark in a Roman port main minister thought did you do that yes of course I did I have said so
often enough and so of other people said sir why do you suppose this is not being
accepted now well I don't know that wishful thinking perhaps on the part of
the National Gallery of Denmark but in their proof of but I mean it's absolutely
well I I say but people believe what they want to believe but there's no
doubt that the drawing passed through my hands I mean I had the drawing that it was I who sold it to hands Kalman and it
was hands Kalman who sold it to the National Gallery of Denmark and it was not known before everyone's friendship
with the late Sir Anthony Blunt lent credibility to his activities as a dealer the dealers who work with high
quality drawings tend to want a scholarly opinion and this is why in the case of Blount he would occasionally
give his imprimatur on say oh yes I believe that is a genuine Prasad castellone dalla bella or whatever
artist lund happened to know rather a lot about and of course sometimes mistakes were made but if a mistake was
made it's basically uncorrectable because without actually someone writing a very serious article in the Leonard
periodical saying that these attributions are provably wrong the matter just drops
I knew that Anthony Blunt and this dealer hen's Kalman were antagonists I
mean they didn't agree with each other hands thought that Denton E was you know not the right Hans who then and Anthony
thought that hence Calvin wasn't they right so I thought I'd make this drawing to tease them I thought I'd make it near
enough of taboo sanfur Antony to take it seriously but not close he nothing to accept it and put it there you know
among the Masters works then I take it to hands and say look Antony blunt says this is a fake what do
you think but I knew that his reaction would be what to fake if Antony such as
a failure must be genuine that sort of thing Anthony Blunt was regarded as one of the great experts he was artful in
charge of the Royal Collection and the Royal Collection has been one of the most magnificent collections of world
master drawings in the world and who was engaged in cataloguing it and supervising other people's catalogues on
it his range of expertise knowledge and awareness was immense Christopher white
at Carnegie's had been one of his pupils just as I had been and I'm sure that
amongst you out in his pupils there was a level of devotion if not veneration
which made us all take really seriously anything that he was inclined to suggest
when I have a friend I treat them slightly differently to I treat the way I treat so I'm not totally objective
about anything I would hate to ruin his reputation as a scholar when he was alive I didn't want to do it and now
he's dead I don't want to do it I don't want to put to jeopardize his a well
I've said did you know his reputation so I still tend always to rather defend him
I know this is not objective but at least I admit it no we were not
but we almost were as one evening I came
back from the Rome scholarship and I hadn't seen him for a number of months and he sent me a telegram sir why you so
damned standoffish I think the telegram made war why so standoffish telephone and he gave his telephone number and I
phoned him up and said come round this evening and we'll have a few drinks together I went round he was drinking
his gin and tonic he laughed and I don't mind it either but I had an empty stomach my god as drunk as a lord and he
got as drunk as a sir which he was seeing his base and we were wheeling
around eventually collapsed on his bed and I'm sure if we hadn't drunk him so
much I mean you know we might have actually made love but we did literally go to bed together and in my book I've
said that we were suffering from Brewers droop as they called some circles what
happened did and where he was very clever was that he did deal in old master drawings as well as being a
brilliant artist himself so he mixed his drawings with those of with those by
original of original works and I think he probably did show them to blunt and
blunt quite naturally was a collector and therefore anyway he would have been interested in seeing them and
I'm sure blunt would comment on them but I don't think there was any collusion there with blunt actually working with
heaven set and then telling him to go to Sotheby's or Christie's or Cole nagas or
wherever and sell the drawings it seems as I sold a lot through corner keys
because Cornell Giza the only people made a public statement saying that I'd sold in 1978 the London dealers Col Nagi
& Co felt obliged to issue a statement to the press they acknowledged a common hand at work in a number of the drawings
that they had handled over the previous 10 years the source was Erica born one
of these was a missing link in the irv of the great Flemish Master Sir Anthony Van Dyck purporting to be a study for
his painting of Christ crowned with thorns I was looking through a book on
Van Dyck drawings and I saw a series of drawings preparatory studies for
painting and I thought you know he's missed a chance there and I CLE would be
better if that figure was moved over here and a little bit more stress there and on him I'll try that out and so I
made a drawing in his manner making a variation on the other drawings what was interesting about Eric Evans approach to
making that drawing was that he found a group of the parrot few studies made by
Van Dyck for a painting where and I could experimented with different
positions and this is of a perfect common thing but we are it was unusual but we had though I think about four or
five drawings for this particular composition and what he very skillfully did was to rearrange the figures taking
one figure from one drawing and another from another in itself a perfectly reasonable thing for the artist to do I
mean as he was working through the his ideas to find the ideal solution but
when you studied them very carefully you see there is something rather suited in way that he extrapolated one figure from
one drawing and another but but as I say it was it was well I've saved all the
brilliant people together Cole Maggie's unwittingly sold her bones joined to the British as a VanDyke for an undisclosed sum in
1970 it is now correctly attributed to Ericka born whoever buys a babe has been
cheated that is something which causes concern I mean whether it's the public
institution or private collector they both in Keith here and I think the ones concerned when people are cheated any of
the drawings that have on claims to have made passed through the hands of leading dealers and the great auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's into the
possession of private collectors as well as Renaissance masters heaven claims around 80 drawings in the style of
Augustus John successfully executed stakin Lee attributed and sold in London
steno Elana Seeley deputy chairman and director of Fine Arts at Christie's was unavailable for comment the Julian stock
the old master drawings Department of Sotheby's was glad of an opportunity to clarify the conclusion well it's
possible a thousand drawings but the list that I've been given of what he's admitting
to only comes to 80 so it seems to me there are another nine hundred or so out
there one of the drawings that we sold and as long ago as 1967 was this rather
beautiful drawing of a page which took us in because we cataloged it as
attributed to Francesco del casas and based on an attribution of another
drawing in the British Museum which in fact mr. heaven now claims was his
prototype and we sold it I think it must have been one of the first drawings that
he actually sent in for sale and it was purchased by Col nagas who then they
didn't believe our attribution to Francesco del casas they called it just north Italian school 15th century and it
was purchased by the Morgan live the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York which is one of the most renowned
libraries in the world I would say he must be one of the very best that
probably ever lived I think one might go that far although now that one's recognized his work it's very
easy to see them for me it is anyway it's very easy I'm sure for some people
they're probably they might still be struggling to actually believe that they can be forged another drawing but we had
that is apparently claimed by Eric Kevin that he drew was a drawing by Yann
Bruegel that we sold and this one I must admit is very different from the others
that we're seeing now the papers foxed which is rather like a sort of fettling
it's a it's some some of the iron in the paper which has got damp and it's it's
got it's a disease in the paper and this drawing which is very spontaneous um he
claims he drew and I'm not actually 100% certain that he did it I wonder really
whether this is by heaven himself and I'd like him in a way to look at the
drawing however we sold it and then it went to a dealer in Hamburg and the dealer in Hamburg didn't find a client
and he gave it to another auction house to sell in Amsterdam and it was sold in Amsterdam and I don't know where it is
now this this is a Leonardo drawing that was offered to us and I'd looked at it I
felt that it was a forgery and I'm not certain that it's by Eric heaven but I
wouldn't be surprised and I would be interested to have mr. heavens comments
on it because in my opinion and a number of other people it is without doubt a
forgery why is the facial types is one of the
main giveaways here although there is pentimenti in the head of of the baptist
the the faces are too sweet and they don't have the physiognomy that you
would have in the early 16th century Penta mint is when an artist is rapidly
working out a position for a figure and he'll move his head like this like that
like this or like this and each that will all be on one drawing
now that is Penta meant pent it we call it pentimenti and when we see that that
gives us lots of confidence that the drawing is an original work of art because normally the copyist doesn't do
that he just copies one position of the head so heaven knew this probably one
obviously he he loves of the old masters he must have looked at them very intensely fact that he uses old paper
and a why didn't he use new paper he didn't use new paper because he would he
knows that we're not that simple volumes
containing blank fly leaves are still easily available from antiquarian book shops here I have another book I've
removed a piece of the Benham and if curiously enough the shape corresponds
Rolla use me with this drawing if we
notice blind slopes down at the top and so on this is attributed to personnel
law strong of an eagle's head the inspiration for that drawing came from a
photograph in a book called Annie Marley mondo Annie Marley and there's the
photograph let's have a look at the drawing together with it there we are
you see it's in exactly the same position and I think there's little
doubt that in fact that photograph is the inspiration for this drawing this
drawing was attributed to the Italian Renaissance artist pisanello by the gallery's Salomon a Gastonia grantee at
their sale in Milan in 85 in the same sale which contained a large group of
drawings now claimed by heaven was a small study of women attributed to Parma or Giovanni here we have Paul Maynard
Giovanni Venice 1544 zone and here's my sketch for this or related to it I
screwed it up I wanted it to away and somehow it survived you sold in this thing and it has here X collection
old Spencer now how the hell he could have had it before I produced it is
something I shall never know important drawings often bear one or more collectors marks small stamped monograms
which indicate their past history with collectors such as Jonathan Richardson and Sir Joshua Reynolds many of the
drawings that he's now claiming to have done bear fake collectors marks on them
doing that I would imagine is going beyond just drawing and letting the
expert make up his mind he's actually making the expert believed that the
drawing comes from Sir Joshua Reynolds or Sir Peter Lee Lee and therefore it should be an original Reynolds is not
particularly distinguished collection it contained an awful lot of dross and I
mean sometimes sheets with the collectors mark on a more interesting for the mark than for the drawing as if
it was it was quite a shrewd one tools yes why not they're very decorative I
mean it could be he could be claimed I mean people will claim that it's forgery but that's just their opinion tell me
about why did you protect his mark well they looked ice one thing I enjoy this
because they helped convince the experts they were general I don't think so I mean if they were experts I would have
seen that they were false collectors marks they should have seen in fact they weren't done very well some of them were
done freehand in watercolor rather than being stamped I mean I did them very in
a very amateurish way they shouldn't have been fooled at all but you see what is the the whole factoring in in the
whole affair that seizes people's imaginations the money Eric has never harmed anybody he's crossed a whole lot
of people a lot of money and I'm very glad
laughs at the expert and have a certain amount of pleasure in seeing a drawing
that you did in a museum with the learning catalog entry and you look at
it and you think well they don't know what they're talking about and I suppose that there's a certain amount of
pleasure of course in a way I find it amusing myself I became your millionaire
that you made a million yes I mean that's certainly not a great deal of
money must have gone through my hands but it goes through everybody's hands nowadays because life is expensive even
a modest lifestyle like mine cost money and I've had to make a living as an
artist a painter sculptor and all this sort of thing my own right and some of
the money I've earned has come through during the fakes as well I don't like the word fake apply to perfectly genuine
drawings but you know it's a word that people will apply to what I've done I
think that he is behaved really extremely badly odd people who have
trusted him and that I find deeply offensive um as far in as sympathy with
the trade that I have not at all the trade has always been well certainly
from the great bulk of the last 30 years the trade has been wrong but but no fine
point on it who ought to know in our business better who all not who had such
elastic judgment who ought not to have taken risks who knowing once the finger
had been pointed at Eric as it was very early on that he was a dangerous
customer to deal with and continue to deal with him for those people we need
have no sympathy at all my immediate reaction to the idea that Eric made at
least a thousand drawings would suppose that they were probably rather more than that judging by the rapidity with which
they are scribbled I believe his do chanise who went out with a lantern in
the middle of the day was asked what he was doing is ever in search of an honest man and well I
think you might possibly find an honest man but I don't think you'll find an honest man who's also a dealer new
dealer is likely to turn down something in which an enormous profit resides on a
sort of 10% suspicion he would take it on and push it Italian dealers are an
extremely dodgy lot in general I suppose and I mean Italy has been a source of
fakes for centuries and that absolutely brilliant and the dealers don't actually
mind selling them you know if somebody is foolish enough to buy them why not if
they get something in that looks like Pontormo and they're frightfully keen to set it as Pontormo you know they won't
go go round and really seriously look into it
the palazzo stop Seafarer is the kind of place that I try to avoid because it's
full of all the snobby people and flashy kind of people and I feel also too close
to the dealers I'd like to see his little liberal in as I possibly can just you have to sell them something
then I Maus because on the whole I own you know they're not the kind of people
I like and I believe they don't like me anymore
addy hmm deals in the north of Italy he asked me if I could find for him a collection of
old master drawings I said well no I don't deal in drawing anymore he's a world um you know will be very well-paid
on him and worry about that and I produced for him 30 or so important old
masters I mean very big names Pontormo and done I'd piss on Ehlo parmigianino
the sort of thing this dealer took the
drawings away and put them into sale and gave wrong attribution I mean he must
have known that the things were fake I mean he commissioned them I mean he'd asked me will you please do this and I
done it you know and so he knew perfectly well what he was handling and when I saw a sale catalogue with these
droids reproduced I found that not only had he given the attributions as being
firm and definite it also made stains on drawing to simulate age which is neat
because they were on old paper with old materials in any case and he'd also given false provenances I was so
surprised to find that the prices were so high I mean a hundred and seventy million I think it was for a Pontormo
that I'd made we're talking about 90,000 pounds or something like that there's quite a lot of money for drawing
that you've only Spade the artist 750 pounds for if that
there's quite a markup Eric highborn yes
it's by Eric highborn Eric he born
senior Eric airborne ISM is an artist the Salomon a Gastonia our grantee
catalog then the land sale of November 1985 appeared to confuse the dealer had
helped to compile it see know the exact
details of the Milan sale remain shrouded in mystery one magazine reported huge prices while other dealers
who attended the sale dismissed it as a bad joke little is known of the whereabouts of these drawings that one
of the Milan highborns the pastoral scene attributed to castee leone was sold for over nine thousand pounds at
Christie's London in December 1990 it was bought by a leading dealer in New York I have in fact carried out my most
significant work in the last decade or so but this is merely because I'm
getting better no one is an artist isn't quite like a footballer who sort of yeah
gets tired after the age of 25 or whatever it is
artists can go on forever and ever this beautiful drawing by Goya on the subject saying we still learn of himself as an
old man with a beard and he's tottering towards the grave but one can still
learn and master them so even in my fakes I'm getting better
I don't know when I suppose if you did the perfect fake you you there's no you
can't get any better I'd like to think I have done one or two perfect one
the old master toys are usually slight and sketchy all so on and so forth but nevertheless they're very important
because they are much nearer to the artists original thought noise he's
dashing down an idea in his first sketch and often this is lost in the final work one is closer to the creative process in
a drawing and one is in a final piece of sculpture or painting or fresco and this
this is one of the values of drawing but I believe there's an even deeper value
to drawing and mankind is in at the point of losing it is becoming a dead
art and it's the art of line
I wouldn't say that I've been taken
seriously by society or by the scholars or by anybody else I'd say I've been totally ignored the only reason people
are taking notice of me now is because I've made a handful of fakes nobody is truly interested in the art
side of it what I've really done whether I have a contribution to make or not what they're interested in is the
scandal of someone having fooled some experts we should enjoy works about what
they are don't worry too much whether the attributions are correct or otherwise in the long run I think my
story will be the beneficial effect on the experts and I think they'll take a
wider view of that matter and not be such fast spots as they are now
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sun Oct 02, 2022 4:12 am

Part 1 of 2

Scams, Schemes & Scoundrels
by A&E
(Highlighting Han Van Meegeren's life and art forgeries, many of which had been confiscated as Nazi loot. Also featuring the stories of Victor Lustig, Soapy Smith, and Media Prankster Joey Scaggs.)
Hosted by skeptic James Randi


the Eiffel Tower up for sale hard to believe but master swindler Victor
Lustig convinced his mark that it was a medical marvel was dr. Athens box of
remedy for the sick or only designed to enrich the scoundrel who created it
these works of art bearing the signature of Dutch master Yule had us Vermeer
today hanging museums as master works of deception do you believe everything you
see on the news how about a nationally reported story about a computer that determines the guilt or innocence of
suspected criminals host James Randi professional skeptic and a bunker of
frauds takes us through the conception the setup and the payoff of these
remarkable scams we've all heard that anything too good to be true probably is
but the charm and ingenuity of a great con artist can make us believe that maybe just this once
fortune has swung in our favor how does the scam artist do it what principles of
human nature play into the scoundrels hand and when it's all done are we any wiser or just poorer from seasoned
swindlers like the globe-trotting Victor Lustig and boomtown hustlers like soapy Smith to the vengeful genius of painter
Han Van Meegeren and modern day media hoaxster Joey Skaggs the scam and the scoundrel have remained remarkably
unchanged through the centuries I am James Randi and in this special
presentation we'll look at the inner workings of some of history's most outrageous scams and the competence men
behind them now most cons follow a very simple set
of rules the first rule is that the con artist always wins
[Applause] few men have earned the title among
criminals of King Kong Victor listing was one of them an aristocrat of the
underworld he was known to his peers as count listing the caper that immortalized him as one of the greatest
confidence artists in history occurred in Paris where he lined up a scheme to
sell something that weighed 11,000 tons and didn't belong to him it's been said
that every society gets the crooks it deserves in a world where wealth and prestige are admired the Khan disguises
himself accordingly often playing the role of an aristocrat or high government official in times of change and social
upheaval the Khan enjoys a greater freedom to masquerade across the boundaries of class and wealth the
successful con artist is always a kind of mirror for the time and place in which he operates
[Music] and there couldn't have been a riper
time and place for Victor Lustig than Paris 1925 after World War one the youth
of France was happy to be alive and sought to create a new social order with more freedom and greater opportunity
expatriates of all kinds descended in droves upon the City of Light a new
class of entrepreneur emerged made wealthy by the rebuilding of Europe it
was a city filled with effervescent excess here amidst the creative fervor the nouveau riche mingled with old money
and exiled from prohibition America and Bolshevik Russia converged in what
seemed to be one big party Paris was ripe for change and anything
seemed possible a perfect place for Victor listing to pull off a swindle of a lifetime as a young man Lustig left
his birthplace in Eastern Europe and by the time he was 20 years old had already proven his talent as a first-rate
grifter his gift for languages and his easy charm served him well in his partnership with the infamous cardsharp
Nicky Arnstein together they worked the big ocean liners which sailed between
Paris and New York ships which were always rife with gullible and wealthy marks when he left Arnstein listing had
a booty of $35,000 and he headed for Paris
by now an experienced confidence trickster he will gracefully in society all we stylish always in control and
more importantly always looking for the next opportunity to work a scam it came
to him one spring day through an intriguing article in the local newspaper which provided the counts
cunning mind with enough material for a caper of truly monumental proportions
according to The Daily Press the Eiffel Tower was in a terrible state of disrepair and estimates on its upkeep
were astronomically high the price of a new coat of paint alone could reach into the hundreds of thousands of francs
listings inventive mind went to work which would happen if the city decided
it could no longer afford the tower would they dare tear down this glorious spire what an enormous and controversial
job that would be who would do it there would have to be a contract he supposed and where there's a contract there's
usually a bid listings scheme was taking
shape always the chameleon listing would transform himself into a high government
official his disguise would have to be flawless every detail perfect
he hired a forger to create counterfeit government stationery and sent six of
Paris leading scrap metal dealers authentic-looking invitations to attend a very secret
meeting sole secret it couldn't be held at City Hall listing chose a grand
setting delay is trap the Magnificent Hotel pre-owned on the plastic Accord was an exclusive meeting place for
diplomats dignitaries and royalty one could hardly under which doors without feeling a certain sense of heightened
expectation even perhaps a bit of self-importance all six scrap metal
dealers responded to listings invitation and attended the meeting each one put at ease by the presence of his successful
colleagues and by the time the count had introduced himself as a deputy director general of the Ministry of posts and
Telegraph's well they were convinced that they were all going to be part of something very significant and perhaps
profitable [Music]
he told the dealers that they had each been hand-picked for their flawless reputation as honorable business men
then in a hushed voice lifting explained that due to the exorbitant cost of its
upkeep the city had no choice but to tear down the Eiffel Tower the men were shocked listing pressed on
because of the certainty of public outcry over this matter the news could not be revealed until all the plans were
in place he explained that he would have the duty of selecting the man to carry out the demolition the idea that the
Eiffel Tower was gonna be sold for scrap again wasn't all that goofy it was with
some serious need of repairs you look at upon it today as this this thing which
you know Paris wouldn't be Paris without it but back then it wasn't quite as famous no doubt there are many people
who would have preferred it come down they could not yet see it as a permanent feature of the Parisian landscape
necessarily it didn't look like any of the most well known monuments of the city like the Opera House or any of the
Gothic cathedrals and churches it looked more like a machine and as a machine it
had the look of quickness that's what it felt so again
from the meeting listing risked all six men into a limousine for a special tour
of the tower it was a calculated move understanding human nature as he did the
Stig wanted to dangle the prize before their eyes gentlemen the tower was never
meant to be permanent as you know it was built for the 1889 exposition with a 20-year concession to mr. Eiffel in 1909
it was to have been taken down and reassembled somewhere else this of course didn't happen unlike our
city's other monuments the tower is made of 15,000 prefabricated parts which can
be assembled and disassembled think of the uses collectible and
otherwise to which these highly ornamented parts could be put and imagine their value
[Music] Theoden also gave the count the chance
to observe the men individually and pick which would be his mark the victim he
would cut from the herd he had a set of
rules that in order to sort of get people to trust you one thing is you you
listen very patiently to people you don't look bored you don't express
controversial opinions until the mark
tells you what his opinion is and of course you agree with you know let's you know naturally you do not try to pull
personal information out of the mark even if you want it and really sincerely
need it don't try to pull it out because people are gonna tell you just let it
ride let him talk he's gonna tell you what you want to know you don't brag
about yourself you brag about yourself people don't trust you you have to exude the authority it has to look right once they were back on the
ground listing ask the gentleman to submit their bids by the next day and he reminded them that they were in
possession of a state secret
the next morning bids from all six dealers arrived but listing had already made his choice the dubious honor would
go to the socially insecure and very ambitious Andre apostle list to get
easily picked up on his desire to join the business elite of Paris
if Lustig was the perfect con artist for the times Hasan was the perfect mark he
was from the new class of wealthy entrepreneurs who had made a fortune after the war and he had plenty to prove
the old boy network had shot him out of Parisian high society and pasal wanted
him what better way than to win the Eiffel towered contract I can imagine
that a provincial scrap metal dealer would see this as the means to really make his fortune it was really a
attractive prize for someone like that perhaps the grandeur of the deception
was the keyword success the tower of course itself was always a grand object
always subject to very exalted kinds of attentions whether by artists or by
planners they made people think globally and maybe people think big and certainly may press something big as well five
lucky scrap metal dealers had narrowly escaped listings traffic with possum in
his net listing was one step closer to a small fortune but he was also at risk
impersonating a Deputy Minister larceny listed knew that if he were caught and
stood in front of a French judge his cheeky scam would be severely punished
listings fares were justified in fact Paul's wife had become suspicious she
questioned her husband why was the meeting not held at the ministry did Andre know this official why was the
city's plan being enacted with such aced now at this point Lucic realized that
all paths all had to do was make a few discreet inquiries and the game was finished so what did he do quit run oh
no not as long as there was some chance of saving this game he showed his true
mettle as a genuine confidence artist he not only had proven he was clever he was now about to show that he had
nerves of steel well before then he's a risk-taker I mean you know you're out there scamming people and you don't know hey
well they've got maybe they'll find you up here they put you in jail he didn't go to jail a couple of times maybe they'll shoot you I mean he was a card
shark for a while you know he times somebody catches you with the wrong cards bang that's it he seemed to
enjoy that kind of danger that kind of risk [Music]
listed knew he had to act he set out to meet his mark that evening back at the
hotel this time in private there he confessed or is so it seemed
Monsieur Plus aw I'm sorry we have to meet like this but it's important we understand each other I am a government
official I'm expected to live in a certain style so as to maintain the dignity of friends I must dress well and
entertain on a lavish scheme I don't have to tell you that I make only a pittance my life is precarious when a
premier Falls my job is on the line and so it is that in the letting of government contracts I maintain my
security it is customary for the official in charge to receive
a commission parcel was relieved finally he understood this officials
mysterious behaviors listed wanted a bribe quoi saw smugly reached inside his
jacket and removed his wallet when
Lustig asked him on top of a blank cheque for also for a bribe for himself
as a poor government official for a song took this as proof that lipstick was in fact a bonafide government official he
was used to the idea of bribery as part of the everyday business of government and provided these two checks you know
he posed as a government official that he posed as a corrupt government official you give me you know you grease
my palm and I'm gonna give you the inside track on that and all of a sudden here in the mind of this somewhat greedy
probably not terribly bright but hey you know maybe not so very different from
the rest of us the scrap dealer came the idea that aha
now I understand I understand the secrecy I understand you you're a you're
a crook you're the kind of crook I I'm used to dealing with well he was that he was a crook of course but he was a very
very different kind of crook you see in
Poisson listing had discovered the perfect partner the mark who wants to believe the con works one because the
conman is good but secondly because you know we go we meet in more than halfway
in a lot of these cases there's more than a little larceny in the heart of
the of the of the person who is being caught
listing was endangered fossil would call the Ministry and then very likely the
police listening hopped a train to Vienna with a suitcase full of fossils money he checked into one of the city's
best hotels and watched the papers for news of the scam but nothing appeared
apparently plus all was too embarrassed to tell anyone that he'd been had assault was left calling the city on the
phone to saying when should I show up to help take down the tower and we can
imagine that the the ministry was rather amused by the foibles of the unfortunate
victim six months later
listing was back in Paris taking advantage of the fact that possum had felt too humiliated to report the scam
the Stig made his way back to the hotel preowned he reasoned that a possum
hadn't told the police he certainly would not have told his competitors [Music]
he worked his racket all over again this time with a different set of scrap dealers and remarkably enough he sold
that Eiffel Tower a second time the entrepreneurial spirit is crucial to the
lesson of the tower whether it be Eiffel as the enlightened entrepreneur who through his dynamic
understanding of the possibilities of Technology build something useful and also profitable so taps into the same
spirit hoping that he too can be part of this great story and enlisting I don't
know if we can call him an entrepreneur we certainly can call him someone who understood those desires and capitalized
on them very very well now would you look at the Eiffel Tower what do you see do you see a magnificent monument to the
spirit of the city or do you see the opportunity perhaps to make a few fast francs I think listing saw both
much of Victor listings genius lay in his ability to understand the psychology
of his mark and anticipate their next move after Paris Lustig returned to the
US where he pulled off dozens of scams he was finally arrested for counterfeiting and sent to Alcatraz for
the time of his death in 1947 Lewis takes career had become legendary when the clerk filling out his death
certificate came to the box marked occupation he paused then wrote salesman
thus paying a final tribute to the crafty count who sold the Eiffel Tower not once but twice that's right the
McGregor rejuvenated it reverses the aging process in its time this worthless
device relieved a lot of people of their money and today can be found here in the
Museum of questionable medical devices in Minneapolis Minnesota the final resting place we hope of hundreds of
quack devices that promised miracles but delivered nothing this helmet for
example promised to cure baldness by means of vacuum let's see
I guess you have to leave it on a little bit longer but no other apparatus here
compares with the creations of dr. Albert Abrams of San Francisco a brilliant diagnostician whose inventions
cured tens of thousands of people of deadly diseases or did they in the early
nineteen hundreds came technical wonders never seen before powered flight
electricity moving pictures for these inventions science or miracles the line
between the two had never seen so blurred if the new technologies were
astonishing and their effects their explanations were even more mysterious to the general public
Freud's unconscious postures germ theory and Madame Curie's discovery of
radioactivity all demanded that people believed in the invisible reputations
were made and industrial empires were built on these new discoveries at a time
when science was really developing and technology was beginning to explode would have been ready-made for somebody
to exploit the weak and the vulnerable and if you've got some sort of a device
that sounds mystical but you have the credentials of a medical doctor and then I put you in a pretty good position to
control other people from an early age Albert Abrams seemed destined for greatness
he was born in San Francisco in 1863 and received a medical degree from the
University of Heidelberg while he was still in his team [Music] he became chief pathologist at the
Cooper Medical Institute which was to become the Stanford Medical School
Abraham's was a doctors doctor his diagnostic skills were sought-after by
other established physicians and he published hundreds of articles in leading medical journals his patients
came from the elite of San Francisco society Abrams who moved along the Bay Area smart set insisted that his letter
had lists all his titles and all of his degrees [Music] he was a charismatic person quite a
handsome well-dressed individual he had a lot of social graces and he managed to
move in the right society and he seems to have been very convincing he seemed
to be a consummate manipulator and and that's really the the recipe for success
as a con artist to kind of know what makes people tick even perhaps better than they know themselves but
conventional honors however great were not enough for Albert Abraham's in a letter he wrote my goal is to become a
prophet among men a wise man who will have both wealth and power in 1912 he
announced that contrary to all that had been taught before electrons not individual cells were the basis of life
the doctor called his new theory of disease er a electronic reactions of
errors and unveiled a powerful new machine called the dynamize er it was
the latest in medical technology with this new invention Abram claimed he
could diagnose any known disease from a single drop of blood
now this invention was remarkably similar to another invention a real one called
wireless or radio and dr. Albert Abrams was able to see but radio was going to
change the way that people could communicate right across the world and he was among the first to exploit the
similarity between his so-called invention and real science the current
mystique surrounding electricity and radio waves provided the perfect environment for Abrams to sell his new
diagnostic theory to the public
if a simple box plugged into a wall and captured voice and music from the airwaves
it seemed that similar electric boxes could do just about anything though
people might not fully understand how it worked they were ready to accept another exciting example of new technology into
their homes Abram seems to have had this wonderful innate grasp of the psychology
of his patients his devices had beautiful cabinets just like the radios
that people had at home and so they tread this very fine line on the one
hand they were homey and reassuring enough that people would be willing to
submit to them they weren't these sort of frightening dr. Frankenstein like devices on the other hand they were
still high-tech circa 1920 and that already raised people's hopes and made
them think that there really was something to these wonderful gadgets well he was offering a very comforting
idea a comforting product there were patients out there who were going to demand it because it seemed
state-of-the-art it was high tech for its era and and they were going to demand it from their conventional
practitioners even if those practitioners themselves might have been a bit dubious about it with Abrams solid
reputation behind it by 1918 the dynamize er was becoming a national
sensation but Abrams could see that greater opportunities lay ahead while the diagnosis is made only once
an illness can require many treatments a machine that could cure disease would
keep patients returning again and again Abrams soon unveiled a second device
[Music] feel civilized it used the readings from
the dynamize er to cure the diagnosed illness after the dials were precisely set electrons would be beamed into the
patient's body and shattered the destructive electronic vibrations of the disease [Music]
the crux of dr. Abrams technology has really summed up in these two devices the dynamize ER and the asila clast you
took the sample of blood ran a magnet over to polarize it but the blood sample
in the dynamize ER but the lid on this would measure the vibration rate of that blood sample and send it to these
vasilich last dr. Abrams often had his
chauffeur our valet stand on a metal plate and by tapping this healthy persons abdomen he was able to diagnose
the patient's illness [Music] these are bearish blood samples sent to
dr. Abrams in 1920 along with letters from physicians and so forth and healers
he put those blood samples in his machine was able to diagnose that most
of them at 4 to 5 ohms of resistance designating that they had syphilis
cancer and diabetes [Music] hayburn's bolstered that the treatment
was painless that had eliminated the need for drugs and surgery and that for
an additional five dollars it could be done over the phone how preposterous you
say it's important to understand that the medical field at that time was not
quite what we think of medicine as being today after all during even much of just
the previous century the man who buried you the man who treated you and the man who cut your hair were probably all the
same professional medicine was part of the healing arts it had only recently
started to become something that people would think of as a science with no laws
regulating the manufacturer of medical devices it was a heyday for quackery of
every kind phrenology the measuring of bumps on people's heads became a popular
diagnostic tool and doctors claimed that anything from tuberculosis to the mumps
could be remedied by a dose of one of the hundreds of patent medicines on the market most of which consisted of a
mixture of corn syrup and morphine well
I think it was a famous Canadian physician Sir William Osler who to until about the turn of the century the
chances that that any average person going to his or her doctor would come away a better rather than worse was only
about 50/50 by 1920 Abrams electrotherapy felt was booming tens of
thousands of people sought the painless treatments doctors and alternative healers from around the country flocked
to his San Francisco clinic where for $200 a piece they too could learn to
detect the mysterious electronic reactions finally Abrams was receiving
the acclaim he felt was rightfully his he was also raking in a fortune for two
hundred and fifty dollars down and five dollars a week a great deal of money for that time his students were allowed to
lease one of the 4,000 authorized Abrams machines being churned out by a local
factory there was only one condition the machines could not be opened Abrams
insisted that this could damage the delicately tuned mechanism the Abrams
reluctance to let other people look at his little black boxes and so on makes sense from a number of perspectives one
is maybe there's nothing there and he knows that so why expose it I mean I'm putting on such a good show and
people are excited about it I'm doing all right as it is so why take a chance and the other possibility is that he may
actually have sincerely believed that he was on to something and that he wanted to protect it he had proprietary
interest in it it's almost like a patent in his own mind during his heyday Abrams
was called upon by laypeople and even the courts for expert testimony in a
high-profile paternity case he claimed he could identify the father by analyzing the vibrations in his blood
using his wonderful machines Abrams claimed his machines could do far more
than merely diagnose illness they could also determine your religion your inclination for romance and whether or
not you like to bet on the ponies by 1921 over 3,500 medical doctors
practiced Abrams electrotherapy dozens of clinical reports were published by ER
a doctors they documented the successful treatment of patients non-surgical non-pharmaceutical cures for uterine
cancer tuberculosis and syphilis these
doctors made between 1,000 to 2,000 dollars a week using Abrams leased boxes
conventional doctors were becoming more and more incensed aside from their unwillingness to believe Abrams
outrageous claims they had their own reasons for wanting to discredit him thousands of their patients defected to
medical practitioners using radion ik treatments for the traditional position a new Abrams machine in town and an
empty waiting room and a vastly reduced income
then in 1923 came a chilling case report from a leading medical journal a man in
his 70s was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic as having inoperable cancer of the
stomach after receiving a series of electrotherapy treatments from an Abrams practitioner he was told by the
practitioner that his cancer was gone and that he was completely cured a month
later he was dead Abrams increasingly grandiose claims were about to put him on a collision
course with the American Medical Association in this world there are many
different sorts of scoundrels someone who take your money but dr. Abrams was of a higher or perhaps lower order you
see the states in his scam turned out to be human lives was Abrams a true
visionary or just a quack preying on the hopes of the desperately ill a nationwide battle raged between AMA
establishment physicians and Abrams defenders the issue could only be
resolved by a scientifically respected neutral party so many people had been
writing to Scientific American saying this wonderful Abrams technique is the
scientific discovery of the new century surely you'll be learning and writing more about this that it caught the
editor's attention naturally would be a terrific subject for any kind of scientific investigation there were two
though these charges by people in the medical community that the whole thing was a fraud that it couldn't possibly
work the Scientific American put together a team of people to study the Abrams
technique a senior Abrams practitioner known for purposes of the study as dr. X
was chosen to conduct the first test six vials containing unknown germ cultures
were delivered to his laboratory he was to correctly identify the contents of each one the Scientific American
committee looked on as dr. X carried out the elaborate procedure in accordance
with Abrams technique a healthy young man wired to the dynamize ER stood on two metal plates facing west under dim
light when the doctor announced his results they were completely consistent in one respect they were all wrong dr.
X's results from this trial were spectacularly unsuccessful he managed to get all six vials completely wrong
naturally he was trying to figure out what had gone wrong so he then asked to
examine the vials and he said oh well there's the problem he pointed to the fact that the vials had each been
labeled and that the labels had red on them well red he said was a color that
was full of all kinds of electrical vibrations that set up bad reactions in
the dynamize errs Diagnostics so of course it couldn't possibly be accurate so they started over
they took off all the old labels they put on new plain white labels they gave the specimens back to dr. X and again he
managed to get every one completely wrong letters poured in vehemently
protesting the investigation on the one hand you had some people who felt
vindicated by these results who said they'd always thought it was probably a fraud you had on the other hand the
people who were strong believers in the Abrams technique and many of them started off by saying why are you
subjecting this wonderful wonderful procedure to any kind of scientific scrutiny after all aren't there
thousands of people walking around who've been cured by this already undaunted the Scientific American
committee continued its investigation Abrams offered to demonstrate his machines for them at his San Francisco
laboratory but the committee insisted on carrying out the investigation on their own terms but he wouldn't really submit
he never refused to participate in the studies but he would always beg off
submitting to some kind of real blind trial of the work as a result the
technique was never demonstrated by its inventor to any scientifically
satisfactory degree Abrams struck back at his critics in the pages of ER a
publications he accused them of scientific ignorance and of merely wanting to protect their own turf if he
was attacked by the medical profession or the scientific profession I suppose he could easily fall back on the
argument that he now is the victim and that this big amorphous Association American Medical Association and the
establishment are really after him and poor little me I'm just the victim and many of his followers would probably
accept that the struggle between Abrams and the AMA was about to reach a climax
in 1922 an AMA dr. anonymously sent a
blood sample to Abrams Clinic for diagnosis and the analysis came back
this patient had seemed had malaria diabetes and cancer and another disease
that most of Abrams patients seemed to have syphilis then came the jarring revelation to
Abrams at least you see it turned out that his patient actually was living a very moral life and was quite healthy
his patient was a rock rooster other
Abrams practitioners began getting into legal hot water in another sting operation an ER a doctor confidently
diagnosed a patient with some very human diseases once again the patient turned
out to be a member of the poultry family the star witness at the trial from mail
fraud in Jonesboro Arkansas was to be dr. Abrams himself and then an
unbelievable turn of events on the eve of the trial Abrams died apparently none
of his wonderful devices was able to cure him of pneumonia dr. Albert Abrams
dead at age 62 a healer unable to heal himself I think that between the
satisfaction that gave him in a humanitarian sense and the very real reward he was getting in terms of the
money that was rolling in it was an irresistible force for him the man left
an estate valued between I think two and five million dollars an extraordinary
sum of money for somebody who was basically just hitching up sick people to radios Abrams had always insisted
that his machines never be opened now that he was gone the AMA publicly opened
one a lot of the charlatans had the idea
that if you sealed the Machine put a clamp on it wires that no one would look
into it and discover his mysterious secret the secret was that it was a hodgepodge of meaningless dials wires
and lights that would expose him as a charlatan the Scientific American team
finally concluded that the Abrams technique was a complete fraud that in
fact dr. Abrams didn't know enough about electricity to be able to wire up a
doorbell that the dynamize er was probably nothing much more than just a
black box full of wires that you couldn't possibly get a real cure out of
the asila class and their basic position was that the entire field of the abrams technique
wasn't even fit for scientific study we would have hoped that Abraham's ideas would have died when he died but
unfortunately it was so successful financially that over 44 other manufacturers made similar devices and
even today we have people who are making machines patterned after his goofy ideas
selling him on the market in the 1990s dr. Abrams and his disciples treated
thousands of patients there are no records of how many people they cured or killed the dynamiters and the asila
clasts machines that once gave hope to so many and made the doctor himself a millionaire are now displayed as medical
oddities dr. Abrams obituary in the Journal of
the American Medical Association granted him the title Dean of all 20th
century charlatans while he and his machines may not have diagnosed physical illness he seemed exceptionally adept at
detecting one human infirmity gullibility when the promise being offered his life itself
people pay dearly the paintings of
Johannes Vermeer each one of priceless masterpiece and yet Vermeer died in total obscurity in 1675 of his life's
work fewer than 40 paintings are known to exist until this century he remained
virtually unknown today he's considered a genius praised by the art establishment as the great master of
Delft blockbuster exhibitions of his paintings tour the world images from his
rare originals are reproduced in a wide variety of forms from postcards to wine bottles to t-shirts the people buying
these souvenirs know they're buying mirror copies but what if they didn't
during the Second World War a series of never-before-seen Vermeer's was
discovered and sold for an unprecedented fifty million dollars and if it weren't
for a bizarre twist of fate no one would ever have known that they were forged it was the biggest scam in art history 1945
a special unit of Allied soldiers comprised of expert art historians made an extraordinary discovery
an assault mine in Austria they found a treasure trove of art stolen by the Nazis
these were Europe's greatest masterpieces pillaged during the war by the invading German army amongst the
booty was the collection of Nazi Field Marshal Hermann Goering the Dutch of
heart expert was shocked to notice that one of the paintings was a sign for a mirror he knew the Masters work and he had
never seen this painting before an investigation was immediately begun to determine the origin of such a rare and
priceless treasure it was then discovered that unlike the other paintings which had been looted this one
had been purchased recently from Holland that a Dutch citizen would sell a national treasure to a Nazi was caused
for outrage and suspicions of collaboration the paper trail led
through several intermediaries to this apartment in noise Spiegel strata in Amsterdam owned by the painter Han Van
Meegeren while most people of Europe had suffered a great deal in the devastation of the war von Negron lived very well
while other starved there was always lots of food and wine on his table he owned this property and fifty others
including two nightclubs one morning late in May 1945 two uniformed Dutch
police officers showed up at his door and they treated with some respect because he was a very wealthy man and
they said you know look we're not interested in how much was paid or
anything else we just want to know where this canvas came from and to immigrant
couldn't own so they came back and arrested him with being a collaborator
which could have meant the death penalty the culprit was in fact guilty but of a
far more imaginative crime who was Hanban Migra and how did he come to possess an undiscovered bear mirror the
painter Van Meegeren was born in Holland in 1889 his artistic talent was clear
from the start and he a badly pursued his dream of painting Dutch masters his own father despised
his sons artistic inclinations and in violent outbursts frequently destroyed
his artworks but fund me grant ultimately found a mentor a painter who taught the traditional methods of 17th
century painting while the art world hailed the new brilliance of Picasso and Matisse Van Meegeren steeped himself in
the style of another era though his
technical virtuosity won some praise by age 29 Van Negron's career had peaked
his work was panned or ignored by Holland's art critics who branded it derivative and out-of-date these merely
works done in the old style are examples of Van Lear ins failure to meet the expectations of the critics it also
didn't help his career that he refused to bribe the critics a common practice that bought many of his contemporaries
glowing reviews he recognized that in
the art world the nod of a few experts could make the difference between a worthless piece of canvas and a
million-dollar masterpiece I had been so belittled by the critics that I could no
longer exhibit my work I was systematically and maliciously damaged by those who don't know the first thing
about painting that migrants hatred of
the Dutch art critics gave rise to a scheme for revenge he decided to create a masterpiece that
they simply could not ignore him now his pension for using outdated painting
techniques which had diminished him in the eyes of those same critics could be used as ammunition against them that me
brron may have fancied himself as a master painter but he had all the instincts of a master con man but he did
have this belief that the press and the critics and the experts and the art eaters we're all venal could be bribed
and who ignorant didn't know their facts and it was really originally to show up
this incompetence and venality of the press and the media and the experts that he decided to paint
a Vermeer which would then be authenticated and he would then say I painted it this proves that you're fools
and I'm a great artist there was one very established critic who Van Meegeren
particularly despised and who he thought would make an easy mark dr. Abraham
bridges had a theory about the early work and training of Vermeer how happy
and thrilled he would be to stumble upon an earlier mirror which would bolster his theory abram brainiest the highly
regarded and respected art historian had a theory that well familiar maybe he was
in in Italy travelled there maybe maybe he has seen works by Caravaggio or other
baroque painters and maybe he has made also religious paintings and maybe these
religious paintings look like this a little sober a little Protestant a
little like this and that and in a way you can say that that affirmation used this theory by brady's as a kind of how
to make an early for mere painting the paint of fake Vermeer was a formidable
challenge not only would it have to be stylistically brilliant it would have to look three centuries old but Van
Meegeren was fuelled by the passion of revenge he found a 17th century campus and with pumice salt and water
stripped off the original paint he experimented with two chemicals
phenol and formaldehyde to create a synthetic aging process which would accomplish three centuries of paint
hardening in three hours he was the first forger who had this
idea to create a painting with a with a synthetic medium and why would he do
this because he had experience he had read a lot of book books how they
discovered forgeries and it it appeared to him that it was absolutely necessary
to come up with something different obsessed with detail he used the same
pigments per media even hand grinding ultramarine from lapis lazuli and blue
from indigo he used a badger hair brush with four barrel saviors and he would
take his pigment with the medium in it but then mix mix that through with the phenol and formaldehyde and then apply
it to the cameras he then baked the painting just as you would bake a cake to get the desired crackling in the
finish he went through one more step he would roll the painting over a drum I
mean just I'm simplifying it a little bit that would open up also cracks you
know they were coming from below would open up the new paint layer and then in
order to make them more visible he would then later wash over the whole surface with a black ink
[Music] he then had a picture the below
seventeenth-century canvas paid with 17th century pigments and the media had
all evaporated and the paint was perfectly hard five
years after his original research had begun Van Meegeren finished the painting he called it Christ at Emmaus he felt it
was a great painting something he'd always dreamed of producing but by signing it with Vermeer's monogram he
handed credit for his masterpiece over to another would it now withstand the
scrutiny of the hated critics Van Meegeren presented the painting to dr.
bridges who enthusiastically endorsed the work it was taken to Paris it was
seen by a number of potential buyers including the representative of Lord
Devine in Paris who wasn't fooled by it and sent a cable which I've seen saying
picture rotten fake didn't want him to have anything to do with it about
davines men were exceptions despite the skepticism of the Parisian critics the
painting was endorsed by Holland's art establishment it was given the place of honor in the boyens Museum and crowds
came in unprecedented numbers to see it and to acclaim what Britt iasts had said was the greatest fair mirror of
immigrant himself used to say that he went along as an ordinary member of the public to see this great Vermeer and the
hairy raped off says it couldn't get too close to it and he walked up and had
this moment of enormous pride of seeing his picture in pride faced the Bauman's and leant forward to examine it closely
and see the crackle crackling was still alright and so on and was moved back by
an attendant there too close to his cameras engage engaged in his canvas but
he he was just a member of the public looking at a great new painting
this film made in 1952 captures radius's excitement
at this moment the disciples have recognized Christ risen from the dead and seated before one the disciple on
the Left shows his silent adoration mingled with astonishment in no other
picture by the great master of Dilip do we find such sentiment such a profound understanding of the Bible story van
Negron had done it he'd painted as well as a great master he'd fooled the art critics including dr. Brady's Holland's
leading expert on very mirror instead of coming forward at this moment in exposing them to savor his great revenge
he found that he'd been caught up in the momentum of his own scam the moment came
to expose the fake but Van Meegeren stalled for a simple reason money when he sold the emmaus he served
it for in today's money 2.2 million dollars and suddenly he was
wealthy Van Meegeren went to Paris and frolicked in the city's famous clubs he
still intended to reveal his forgery but in the meantime he indulged himself with cabaret dancers wine even morphine he
was literally intoxicated with his newfound wealth exposing the forgery seemed less and less appealing Van
Meegeren had spent the money he'd made from the sale and realized that he could only continue to live well by turning
out more forgeries he could have sold anything after the amount honest it was
the de Christ at Emmaus it was radius was positive the museum
the Rembrandt's society the museum directors in Berlin in London everybody
accepted it immediately as a famille so why not go on it was one big illusion
Trading and illusions living the highlife in Amsterdam was too seductive
for Van Meegeren to resist he was transformed into a professional forger
between 1938 and 1945 he painted and sold six for bogus fare mirrors
[Music] the chaos of the Second World War
provided the perfect camouflage provide Migron to put his paintings on the market his people attempted to flee the
devastation of the war important private art collections were being sold on the black market with no questions asked masterpieces
were changing hands without the usual documentation and Van Meegeren claimed to have found one of his Vermeer's in a
farmhouse in Italy there was no way for checking of course it was strange to
have suddenly five or six for me in a few years time but in those war days it
was possible all these canvases had to be kept secret they couldn't be
exhibited the Nazis would get to know about them and they would be looted they
weren't examined the paintings carefully they were never x-rayed they'll never chemically analyzed the
canvas was never carefully examined the very vague stories he told by their
provenance we're completely accepted no one ever asked for additional detail were made
any attempt to trace where this painting had been for for 300 years the Last
Supper painting that was sold in 1942 1.6 million guilders and was by then the
most expensive painting in the world even from burning and who had a huge collection he had to sell 20 paintings
including Tintoretto and der and 18 other paintings to get this for me a
painting so you can imagine that when he heard at the end that this painting was
a forgery it was a drama the last of an migrants forgeries was Christ with the
adulteress after he sold it it changed hands several times finally catching the eye
of Nazi chieftain Hermann Goering who paid the equivalent of millions of dollars for it though the fact was not
known to Van Meegeren this was the painting discovered by the Allied soldiers in the Salt Mine in Austria
when officials traced the painting back to Van Meegeren he was vague about his involvement with it he was thrown in
jail and charged with treason well they took him to jail and they grilled him
they interviewed him very aggressively
for several days and after three or four days he broke down and said you're fools
I I didn't sell a great national treasure to the Nazis I painted it
myself and I also painted the Vermeer in Dobermans Museum the Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum and the piece then assumed
that he'd invented this fantastic story in order to escape the more serious
charge of collaboration and said well mr. Van Meegeren if you painted that if
you painted that this bit is yourself you could certainly make her an exact copy of it and then Megan said I can do
far better than that I wouldn't make a copy of a painting but I'll paint a new forgery the police were astonished but
they gave their prisoner a chance to prove his innocence Van Meegeren was locked into his studio
under armed guard and under those very difficult conditions he began to literally paint for his life for he knew
that if he failed he faced execution over the next three weeks in the
presence of police witnesses he created a new forgery which was the young Christ
teaching in the temple the creation of this painting captured
worldwide press attention on Van Meegeren emerged as a national folk hero the underdog who had made buffoons out
of all the experts the new painting
indeed stood up to scrutiny the charge of collaboration was now changed to one of forgery
and a poll before the trial Van Meegeren was voted the second most popular man in Holland after the Prime Minister on
October 29th 1947 that League reigns trial began right here ironically this
defendant wanted nothing so much as to be found guilty because you see that would prove that he was a genius here we
have that formation and it was here I am and during his day seen in the courts
film crews from all over the world his wife was there and it was his Triomphe
though in poor health at age 58 he was determined to appear debonair he was not
about to squander this moment in the limelight [Music]
the people who were giving evidence against him we're the experts and critics who'd been duped by his work few
wanted to give evidence because doing so was to admit their own incompetence and
stupidity a commission was set up to examine the paintings in a laboratory
knew that his paintings and that's very important he knew that his pictures were going to be subjected eventually to
x-rays it's very interesting he anticipated that and so he used all
paintings as was done before but in a different way 17th century painters often painted over
old canvases and this in fact had made Van migrants forgeries seen authentic
but now he could use this very point to prove that he was the forger he told the
Commission exactly what images laid beneath the paintings something that only he as the forger could have known
the painting Christ with the adulteress was x-rayed the radiograph of the framed
part showed a battle scene likewise the x-ray of the washing of the
feet revealed a horse and it's rider exactly as Van Meegeren had predicted
for me here and after the trial after they also proved that his paintings were
that there were faults then he said in the future it will not be possible at
all to make any forgeries that passed these tests the Commission unanimously
declared all of Van migrants Vermeer's to be fake after only two days Van
Meegeren was found guilty on the charge of forging signatures he was sentenced to two years imprisonment but migrants
downfall dead in a very real sense - a triumph for his revelations put the entire art establishment on trials the
con artist was convicted of forgery the marks were convicted of arrogance and incompetence because of his failing
health Van Meegeren didn't go to prison shortly after the trial he was admitted
to the valerian clinic he died of a heart attack on December 29th 1947
[Music] run Negron once wrote I want to see my
paintings and great museums if not as a reputable Peter than as a forger his
wish came true today his forgery is not only hang in galleries they're considered the most successful fakes of
the 20th century I personally regard his painting just very very ugly but and it
for me is it's so strange that the the big art historians the big names from
from those days that they regarded these paintings really as for me as or Peter dogs or whatever it's it's incredible
again I say it's easy to be wise after the event but I think there's also
something second or third rate about his forgeries but of course would I have said that in 1936 would I have said it
in 1942 when they were generally thought to be Vermeer's in hindsight you see you
can almost recognize any forgery because the people who did not see right away
that for me her and had done these works they were of the same period 10 20 30 40
50 years later this becomes more and more obvious but whether they would
still be on share the pride of the museum's collection can only be
speculative I didn't think bear Migron was a great painter he was a great
chemist and a great psychologist and a great technician all these qualities
were necessary for him to succeed as a forger if truth is beauty is beauty
necessarily true in one migraineurs case the illusion was more powerful than the
truth his lie earned this odd vengeful scoundrel a place in history not only
because of who he scammed but because his scam was on masterpiece
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sun Oct 02, 2022 4:13 am

Part 2 of 2

step right up friends and neighbors and tell me you sir what is the first thing in your mind when you look in the mirror
in the morning and what's the last thing when you lay down to sleep at night I know the question on your mind is how am
I fixed for soap well for a mere five dollars you can not only try a soap of unusual strength and purity you can also
have a dance with Lady Luck and find yourself not only a cleaner but a welcoming that was the pitch you could
hear most days down at 17th and Larimer streets in Denver Colorado 1886 the trim
looking man with the basket of soap was Jefferson Randolph also known as soapy
Smith soapy Smith who was the ultimate con artist of that era that was called
soapy Smith for that reason he used to rap bars of soap with with $50 bills with $10 bills $20 bills $5 bills leave
a corner sticking out and they're selling for $5 each by the time the purchased bar got to the anxious
customer however the bills had inexplicably disappeared Jefferson
Randolph Smith was the oldest son of a genteel southern family who left their home in Georgia to take up residence in
Texas there as a teenager he worked on the cattle drives along the old Chisholm
Trail between Abilene and San Antone driving Texas Longhorns along hot dust
choke trails or plunging along with the herd into the raging waters the Cimarron
River but just part of the job $30 a month was all a cowboy could
expect and returned for long and often dangerous hours in the saddle one morning Jefferson Randolph headed
into San Antonio to cede the circuit you had no idea he was about to lose his
shirt and start a new way of life was a very rational man he had many attributes
he was the individual who could walk into a room and kind of light up the room in several different ways by the
way and he quickly learned when he was caught on a shell game which is they're
moving the pn of the three walnut shells that he lost all of his earnings over for several months in a few minutes
club football was one of the great shell game masters of all time that hadn't
taken him long to police jeff smith of every penny but smith wasn't angry with
the fast-talking hall he was envious he decided right then to earn his living
in a more rewarding way he quit his job the next day and determined to learn the
shell game joined the circus heading north after honing his skills in the small
frontier towns of Kansas and Colorado Smith arrived in Denver in 1884
it was the Bunko capital of the West at the height of his Denver days soapy ran
a saloon and the gambling hall he organized a gang of fellow cons and his accomplices were spread among dozens of
legitimate and not so legitimate businesses bartenders hotel owners even Madam's
provided him with the information he needed to work his cause [Music]
and they had barbers on the list as well and barbers tended to elicit information from individuals they would quite often
clip a little V in the back of their haircut which meant that this one was a mark indeed and soapy Smith was quick to
take advantage of that by 1893 soapy was looking for new opportunities and headed
to nearby Creede Colorado Reid was a boomtown that grew up around the holy
Moses silver mine with no existing government had no police force to contend with soapy Smith soon became de
facto ruler of the town in the saloons card sharps mined for silver in the
pockets of unwitting patrons while on the streets impromptu games of three-card Monte and the shell game
lightened their wallets soapy made money from it all his smooth talk and ability
to organize the other con men took him from being a mere street hustler to controlling an outlaw Empire his
confidence men were extremely well paid I think he enjoyed the role he was a study in contrasts very genteel in many
respects aristocratic looking spoke softly was very very eloquent in front
of a crowd and managed to manage to convince people of course this is the
one of the one of the signs of a very fine confidence man in 1897 the SS
Excelsior sailed into San Francisco with over 1 million dollars in gold bullion
on board Gold had been discovered in the Klondike the fever struck and the rush was on
with visions of immeasurable wealth filling their heads masses of people abandoned their firms and families to
seek their fortunes towns sprang up overnight along with prospectors who
expected to get rich from gold came con men who expected to get rich from prospectors back in Denver soapy quickly
understood the role that geography was going to play he realized that the town of Skagway in Alaska was the only
gateway to the Yukon Gold Fields and that all the fortune hunters would have to pass through it seeing a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity soapy and his gang packed up their Merc Kurds and crooked dice and headed for Alaska and
of course a boomtown is established because of the wealth of either led zinc or silver or gold or whatever the metal
is and they rose overnight there weren't many laws in a lot of these towns certainly Colorado is an example
Skagway was a classic example so they gravitated there and who was to follow them on the Bunco men and then the con
artists and they were there in in all sorts of numbers as well as the gamblers volunteers are perfect setups the reason
they're ideal for these individuals that the rules haven't been established yet everything goes the laws is if it's
there it's sort of weak and amorphous and pretty ineffectual so these individuals can get into areas where
there is a breakdown and structure or where social structure has not yet developed and they can function with
impunity so Pete took Skagway by storm his operations were well organized and
his scams had a certain Flair Sofie opened a telegraph office a binary riving in town could send a telegram to
his loved ones back home assuring them of his safe arrival often a reply would come back the very same day each
telegram costs $10 thousands of messages were sent before anyone seemed to notice
there were no telegraph wires in his kagwe he set up an information booth for
miners on their way to the gold fields unlike most this information booth specialized in extracting information
rather than giving it the hopeful miner was questioned as to whether he had enough money to
make the trip to Dawson anyone with a large Grove steak became the target for Soapy's schemes the average prospector
is an optimist he's waiting for a strike just around the next bend in the creek or in a creek that no one else has found
or perhaps a digging they've missed it appeals to that type of individual this is a type of an individual who takes the
chance so they'll take a chance on the diggings they'll probably take a chance on other things as well and indeed they
did so there they're set mentally to become a mark for the con men so P was
the virtual dictator of Skagway while his hired thugs beat robbed and sometimes murdered the miners his
accomplices in every gambling establishment every bordello and every bar in town fleeced them without mercy
fixed card games and fake gold claims stock swindles and gold brick scams no
one really touched soapy Smith and he had of course all sorts of reasons why he succeeded he befriended the the
reporters politicians of all stripes write to the federal level the police of course he had a network of Confederates
and confidence men who felt that he was the ultimate confidence man and they would do very well under him what
couldn't be taken by force was extracted by deception miners out for a good time were more than ready to pay for female
company which the dance halls were more than willing to supply dancehall girls like Klondike Kate and snake hips Lulu
made small fortunes with a clever mixture of bawdy charms and sleight of hand
they danced with a man for a daughter usually the house would get twenty-five cents if they would get 75 cents and
that's where the term chip or chippy game of action because sometimes there was more involved in that but generally
they work for a percentage and they also worked for a percentage of the drinks so some of them did extremely well some of
them had at the end of their careers certainly in Dawson City and in places like Skagway more rangel they would have
solid gold belts with 22-hour gold pieces and each one of the each one of the loops of the belt
Sophie did have a big heart beside which he flaunted in grand gestures I could benevolent dictator he wanted to
be admired he supported the local churches and started an adoption program for the abandoned dogs of Skagway he
himself took in six lucky stray mutts on the 4th of July in 1898 Grand Marshal
soapy Smith met a spectacular parade through the streets of Skagway it was
its greatest moment but even as soapy enjoyed the acclaim of the holiday crowd
other events would soon dispelled his illusions of grandeur the soapy had been able to limit his protection to
competence men and hungry dogs he might have continued without opposition but a much rougher breed was
being drawn to Skagway men who didn't hesitate at outright murder and they too
operated with Sophie's approval the law-abiding citizens of the town started to feel that soapy despite his personal
charm was too much of a liability JD Stuart a miner on his way back to Vancouver Island was robbed in broad
daylight by a group of Soapy's thugs it was the last straw for the respectable
element of the town a group of armed miners headed down to City Hall to deal with this latest outrage Sophie headed
there too but this time neither his gift of oratory or his gang could save
nor could the loaded shotgun he was carrying he was confronted by city engineer Frank Reid they fired at the
same time soapy died instantly with a bullet through his heart it had only
been four days since his triumphant ride as grand marshal of the Independence Day
Parade he had no compunction no sympathy
for stripping a man of everything he had and sometimes he'd give him a square meal that's about all
not passage out of town because passage out of town was on the sternwheeler and or another ship and that would cost too
much and so he wasn't about to do that so he did have a weakness he liked to be
admired and that's probably why I ended up virtually a destitute manner of his death soapy had gambled are given away
the hundreds of thousands of dollars that passed through his outlaw empire he wanted the admiration of society yet he
could not live within its rules he chose the path of marked cards crooked games
and easy money a gambler to the very end those who young had a favorite memory of
Smith sitting in the front pew on a Sunday singing his favorite hymn free
from the law Oh blessed condition today
we live in a world filled with many kinds of media where the truth may be manipulated in very sophisticated ways
we expect sitcoms and adventure stories to be the product of someone's imagination but the news
feeling tired maybe just a little bit stressed well a visiting New York therapist says he has a roaring good way
to chase away those blues and he's trying it out in East London vince rogers explains exactly just rule this
reporter thinks he's getting a scoop on a new-age social therapy developed in california he's really getting scammed
the man behind this caper is New York media hoaxster Joey Skaggs over the past
25 years Joey Skaggs has created dozens of fabricated news stories all disseminated through the mainstream
media [Music] he's created hoaxes such as impoverished
artists living in water towers in Manhattan and curing baldness by
transplanting scalps from cadavers he even managed to hoax the gameshow to tell the truth and
invented a story that received international attention the fat squad and the fat squad consists of a contract
that you would take out on yourself to rub out your own fat a three-day minimum $300 a day plus expenses and every eight
hours a new commander was with you to make sure that you don't break your diet and we will physically restrain you with
force if necessary our commandos take no bribes
whoa no no not here yeah look at his strawberries come on let's do this thing
Martha Wilcox is taking a tough new stand on dieting no longer alone in a
world of temptations she'll have help staying on her latest she's hired the
fat squad I sent this out to the news
media it was picked up by the Philadelphia Inquirer in The Washington Post they totally believed it made the
wire services I then went on national television and everyone around the world
Japanese television and the German television Italian television the French television CNN they all fell apart I use
the media as a painter would use a canvas I'm a social political media satirist and what I mean by that is I
create plausible but non-existent realities that are staged for the media but media even when that only meant
newspapers has always had the means to manipulate the truth journalists and editors in the Old West well understood
the public's appetite for sensational stories phony articles were dreamed up and published not just for fun but for
profit the further away from its place of origin the more likely it was for a tall tale to be printed as fact every
paper in in Alaska or in California or along the frontier every one of them was
was the kind of tabloid that would that would look silly perhaps at your
checkout counter day but this was these were these were the regular newspapers of the time and the hoax story wasn't
just another literary genre early radio soon demonstrated even greater powers of
persuasion it was the night of Halloween 1938 Orson Welles and a group of actors
performed an adaptation of HG Welles War of the Worlds ladies and gentlemen I
have a grave announcement to make incredible as it may seem so strange beings who landed in the jersey
farmlands tonight the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars
all over America listeners to the Lindo a panic believing the drama was real people flocked into churches to pray
emergency rooms were filled with people in shock when the public realized the
broadcasts had been staged the players were taken into protective custody for fear they'd be attacked by mobs of angry
listeners it was a most famous unintentional media hoax in history I'm
surprised that the HG Wells classic which is the original for many fantasies
about invasions by mythical monsters from the planet Mars should have had
such an immediate and profound effect upon radio listeners with the arrival of
television came the opportunity for more elaborate hoaxes the last two weeks of
March are an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer there's always the chance of a late frost which while not
entirely ruining the crop generally impairs the flavor and makes it difficult for him to obtain top prices
in world markets but now these dangers are over and the spaghetti harvest goes
forward spaghetti cultivation here in Switzerland is not of course carried out
on anything like the tremendous scale of the Italian industry beginning in the 1950s the BBC elevated the art of the
intentional media hoax to a new level there April Fool's Day broadcast of
preposterous fake news stories has become an institution the secret is to
get something which is just about believable you know stretches the imagination a little bit but not too far
but in my experience I've found that in fact the public had taken in by the most ridiculous lies and often don't believe
those things which are actually true we didn't immediately recognize the significance of what we saw first when
we entered hopped in park but these pictures taken in very difficult conditions at 200 yards distance
disclosed a reality won't than anything our wildest suspicions had suggested not just the recombination of
genes to make new species but the recreation of species that died out millions of years ago there was
something basically very wrong with their library there were reports of books tumbling from the shelves
difficulties in opening and closing the windows even trouble getting through some of the doors the problems of living
with a new library built up so much in the first few months the grim and District Council decided to hold an
investigation imagine the shock and embarrassment then for the townsfolk of Grimm and when they discovered that
their library which looks like this should in fact have looked like this
their library had quite simply been built upside down the television and the
media environment in general is reality making but the media and media images
because they are so riveting and persuasive and fast-paced and frequent
serve to establish a basis upon which we define our reality our very selves our
relationship to others and because of that media have great authority in our
lives Joey Skaggs is convinced that the
media's authority and power are not always deserved and he's made a career out of proving how easy it is to fool
them I give them what they want what they're looking for the hook and my work
is done in the number of stages the first stage is the hook that's where I come up with a concept and then I figure
out how to execute that concept how it's going to work what I me and I staged the event
this is poplars very own pride of lions indulging in their rather peculiar form
of group therapy and of course they have their own Lion King by the name of Baba
while Simba he's flown over from New York to lead to the roaring sessions and then I document where it goes and who
does what with it I record the process of how the media interprets what I'm
doing for their own purposes what they do with it and thirdly I then reveal the
truth and that gets very interesting and then I document what the media does with the truth do they address it
do they ignore it do they trivialize me do they treat me like I'm the bad guy or
am I the person with the message you're
a reporter engaged in your professional practice you got all these stories going
on simultaneously you're looking for leads you got this call you got these apparently valid and real press releases
about a news story you follow them up you spend a lot of time doing that whomp you're off back to the studio I got to
get the Edit it's got to be on the six o'clock and the 11 o'clock and it goes on and on and there's no time for
engagement and reflection while Joey was developing his talent as a painter he
was also finding his role as social commentator and provocateur during the
heady days of the 60s counterculture I constructed a life-size Vietnamese
village portraying a Vietnamese nativity I erected in Central Park on Christmas and I had a group of actors dressed as
American soldiers attack it with fake guns to protest the war in Vietnam and
there were numerous arrests in that day as well and the New York Times covered the story and said something along the
line that we were arrested for littering Scaggs was struck by the media's ability to reinterpret events for the public and
decided to try to manipulate this power and roman catholics attending the 1992
democratic convention in new york who didn't have time to confess at this unusual option porta fess a portable
confessional pulled by a bicycle it was the brainchild of the Reverend Anthony Joseph aka Joey scams the hardest thing
about that was designing the confessional booth I had to have a tricycle custom-made and I'll get the priests outfit then to pedal up there
and be exposed to about 15,000 journalists covering you know the Democratic convention there was awesome
they were all over me journalists were all over me I had actors posing as people coming in to confess and then real people wanted to
confess and I had a hard time keeping them out I said I was waiting for Ted Kennedy you're a drunk come back again and I found myself front-page news the
Philadelphia Enquirer CBS Fox CNN everybody jumped on the bandwagon and
finally when they called up California where I said I was from as this priest Father Anthony Joseph the archdiocese
said what are you kidding we don't know this guy I think there's a professional pride they don't like to feel that somebody
can pull the wool over their eyes I think they're angry because they can
see the more serious side of it that if somebody can hoax them on something that's fairly trivial Jim perhaps somebody can hook someone something much
more sinister more important how do you fool those whose very business it is to
tell the truth CNN UPI ABC CBS with a
fax machine in some cooperative friends Joey has scammed them all his skill like
that of so many great confidence tricksters is understanding the preoccupations of his own society he
knows exactly what his marks want to hear it's so predictable you can you can
make a calendar of events you know what the media is going to be recording
during the course of a year you know they're gonna have the homeless on Thanksgiving you know they're gonna you
know be there the anniversary of trinova Liz you know there's always a disaster
or an event you can predict what stories are going to cover so you know what
they're looking for and it's really easy to tune in that way you can do an ironic reversal or a
juxtaposition or even a statement along those lines and you're pretty much guaranteed that that's going to push the
button that they want to hear and that's one way of getting access to them we the
jury in the above-entitled action find the defendant Orenthal James Simpson not guilty of the crime of murder and
violence the OJ Simpson murder trial it was the biggest media circus of 1995 and
it became the basis for an elaborate and thought-provoking media hoax Skaggs called it the Solomon project posing as
a New York University professor named dr. Joseph von Musel Skaggs sent a letter to over 3,000 judges legislators
law enforcement officers legal publishers and law schools now the
Solomon project I said was seven years and in developing we had over 150
scientists artificial intelligence scientists and computer experts lawyers and judges who were working on this
project and students we were inputting all the laws of the land both criminal
and civil into a series of supercomputers and that these computers would be able to replace juries I sent
out a second press release saying that we were preparing a 15 city tour we were soliciting cases that were controversial
we're gonna retry them with a computer and we were even going to retry OJ man
beautifully smartly he throws in oh gee that CNN became oj TV it became the
fetish of of America for a while sadly so and so he's got he's got all
the preconditions to carry out a hoax which is not merely a hoax which is a
critique and ultimately an indictment I said on a third press release saying that we did retry OJ and we found him
guilty now that's what everyone was waiting to hear Oh J guilty of course he's guilty but now we know you know
look the computer said he is guilty so I really hit a lot of nerves with that
one Skaggs had 24 hours to prepare for a CNN news crew intent on interviewing dr.
Joseph bono so of course they also wanted to shoot a demonstration of the Solomon supercomputer at work
we got about 25 people there and we designed bogus screens OJ guilty all
this stuff that was only literally a screen deep there was nothing beyond it and we did voice-stress analysis we
could analyze your voice you were telling the truth you're not telling the truth you are somewhat telling the truth
you was somewhat telling a lie and all this was rigged just totally totally bogus
when CNN came in they saw these cameras they saw these journalists they see all these screens all those computers
there's hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment there well it has to be real and it's NYU Law School of
course it's real the danger was that the crew might ask to see something that wasn't technically possible on the
computer or that the reporter would make inquiries at NYU Law School about their innovative professors neither one
happened the piece complete with newsdesk intro reporter standups oj file footage
and joeys interview was broadcast across the country on December 29 1995 it
didn't catch it that evening though you're unlikely ever to see it
related to do the last stage of what I
did which is to tell the truth ultimately is the hardest thing because nobody wants to hear it and when you try
to gain access to the news media and say listen we're preparing a piece and showing how this was a hoax and what
it's all about we'd like to get permission to run this footage they say no they don't want the
public to question their credibility as investigative news source anymore than they've already been questioned I've
been on some shows like a half a dozen times I fooled CNN I think five or six times porta fast walk right fat squad
bad guys it's always amazing to me when sometimes the same crew shows up you
know as a cameraman or a sound person from from a previous hoax will show up say you know this place looks familiar was a guy heroes making fish condos oh
really and that's this has happened I've been on live at five about a half a dozen times so it's it's kind of
frightening when you think about you know how they don't remember anything they don't can't remember the story is
more important than the truth sometimes I don't measure my success by how many
people I've fooled how many newspapers or radio stations or magazines I fool but how many people I'm
able to reach with the messages that we are all being fooled when will schedule
reporters that he's perpetrated his last post I swore that this would this would
be the last one he's this the last would you hope to sure I'm not gonna do this anymore I
decided that I've had it with hoaxes too many people have seen my face it's gonna get really difficult to do this so I'm
gonna quit Joey Skaggs doesn't break the law and he
doesn't profit from his schemes but to those he's duped he's a scoundrel as
someone who makes expert use of the con artist bag of tricks Skaggs may make us laugh but he also
wants us to look more carefully at the truth that we're being sold for the
foibles of human nature and the well-tested rules of deception meat is where the con artist plies his trade but
without fooling believers in the promise of instant riches a miracle cure or an undiscovered masterpiece the scam is
just another game of solitaire
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sun Oct 02, 2022 7:52 am

Wolfgang Beltracchi, the greatest art forger
Dec 13, 2021
Best Documentary

Journalists from around the world are gathered in Köln's courthouse for the end of the trial of Wolfgang Beltracchi for art forgery. Originally from a family of painters and art restorers, he decided to use the skills he had learn from his father to make a bit of extra cash, copying the work of great masters. Rather than working on his own art, he realised he could make money quickly by imitating those who were already famous.


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[Music] Cologne in Germany 27th of October 2011 journalists from around the world had
gathered at the city's courthouse today judge villain Kramer is to deliver his verdict on an extraordinary case of art
forgery separatists had fun begin from
the start this trial has had a lot of media coverage and there's been a lot of
speculation this is the trial of Wolfgang belt rocky who forged dozens of
paintings and sold them around the world he passed these paintings off as works by major artists such as Fennell leche
or Max Ernst every time both King Pataki
needed some money then he painted a new fake to get the money and then he would
live for a few months very good very nice
major fraud which made him massive sums of money at least 35 million euros and
all four paintings which were declared fake by the courts for 30 years the
forger along with a few accomplices managed to fool the experts the auction houses the art dealers and major
collectors [Music] he worked with his wife heléne they were
the Bonnie and Clyde of the art world intoxicated by the excitement in order to hoodwink the art world which took
itself so seriously the couple came up with an incredibly far-fetched scenario
if somebody would do this in a film everybody would say oh come on this is not plausible but in reality it is from
Paris to Cologne via Berlin London and Geneva we went to meet all those who came into contact with Wolfgang felt
rocky and his forged paintings they all talked about an egocentric man who was
very sure of himself and a real expert on the art market he was so sure of
himself that he probably thought he was as good as the painters he was imitating the aim behind it all was financial gain
today Wolfgang belt rocky gives the impression of being a real expert on painting he is
guarded and very selective about any media appearances I think bedrock he
wants to control his his legions and his biography he doesn't want other people
to to write about him too openly - he
was he wants to hide some of his stories this is the true story of Wolfgang belt
rocky the Prince of forges
Wolfgang Bell track II was born wolfgang fischer in a germany that was being completely rebuilt after the war
on 4th of February 1951 here in Guilin Curtain a small town in the north of the
country both gangs mother was a private tutor
his father filum Fisher had an unusual job which made a lasting impression on the young wolf gang he restored
paintings in the region's churches
welcomed by trucky said that already from childhood only started to draw entertained because he was surrounded by
people who were working with paint he said with the exception of his oldest
brother everybody was painting in the family so he said it was like brushing your teeth so and every day he was drawing and
painting after the war life in Germany was hard to make a bit of extra cash
bill and Fisher had a second job in the evenings in his studio he copied works
by the great masters which he then sold at the market paintings by Rembrandt
says AM and Picasso the young Wolfgang spent long hours in this studio silently
watching his father one day in 1965 villain Fisher issued his son with a
challenge he gave him a postcard of a work by Pablo Picasso first hang was fourteen he
started painting his first copy
welcome back Rakhi said he copied it in such a good way that he surprised his father because he even didn't just copy
it but he made it even better he perfected it in certain details and he said his father was really completely
overwhelmed when he saw it and almost angry so he said but that's probably just a legend that his father stopped
copying and painting for almost two years because he was so upset that his son had surpassed him I don't know
whether the father ever imagined that his son would become one of the most successful art forgers in the history of art
in the 1960s both gang Fisher was a teenager growing up in a radically
changing Germany to a soundtrack of pop and psychedelic rock the culture and morals were becoming less strict in 1968
at the age of 17 those gang just like all young people in Germany was fascinated by this evolving
counterculture late 60s early 70s there
were the the rebellion the hippie movement and so on and no Afghan fuscia
was quickly a part of this movement he was he was a hippie
after a few years at art school for skank Fisher got bored [Music]
in terms of travel and freedom and despite an obvious talent for
painting he dropped out of college without any qualifications [Music]
he grew his hair long and his girlfriend at the time gave him a harley-davidson
the same as the one Peter Fonda rode in Easy Rider an iconic film for the hippie
generation for Wolfgang Fischer that marked the start of a decade of drug-fueled wandering across Europe
marginal to the last he took one drug after another he was smoking pot and he
was he he also smoked some opium at one
time and he he did a lot of LSD during the 1970s wolfgang fischer lived
for a while in Berlin and Paris and then London Amsterdam and Majorca she never
really worked but he had to make a bit of money for his trips that was when he
started painting copies of great masters just like his father had done he sold
these copies for a few hundred marks at flea markets he was doing pavement paintings in order
to gain money and he boasts even that he earned more than his father he said he gained 100 Demark day while his father
earned in a month's 900 day mark so you can tell that he was very proud in surpassing his father wolfgang fischer
was now 27 and he sometimes went to work on his own creations rather than copying other artists in 1978 three of his
paintings were exhibited in a museum in Munich in Germany
these were surrealist paintings worked in a photorealistic style
acrylic on a canvas and yeah there must
have been in a certain way modestly even successful because he was exhibited in the house a kunst in 1978 the young
painter managed to sell one of his canvases for 15,000 marks which equates to about 8,000 euros one gallery even
offered him a contract at that stage the Frank fish's life could have taken a different turn but he refused to sign he
wasn't interested in being an artist he was lazy and preferred the simple life
and traveling to the hard and precarious work of a professional painter
if you're an artist who has to do his art you know you usually don't earn a
lot of money in the first decades of your career so you really have to you
you work on your on your artwork and you live for it and you don't have any money you you somehow have to survive it was
not interested in working hard he wanted to gain quick money he wanted to have a nice lifestyle so he realized it would
be much easier to fake paintings than to create own paintings Wolfgang Fischer
was now 30 he settled in Dusseldorf at the start of the 1980s this was where he
truly became a forger tired of living on very little he wanted to earn more money
he started copying paintings that were better known in the art world with a view to selling them in specialist
auction houses these works were carefully selected for their style
[Music] welcome but rocky was quite clever when it came to the choice of artists he
faked because he knew it would have been very difficult to take the really famous artists like I don't know a van Gogh
[ __ ] and whare something like that so he was quite clever because he choose if you like the b-grade artists which were
important but which are not as famous as the big ones Thomas say/do worked at Christie's one
of the world's biggest auction houses he was in charge of modern and impressionist art collections and
without realizing it years later he hand out some paintings Wolfgang Bell Jackie had forged
[Music] give the Seleucia what he did was follow which movement
sold well from a commercial point of view and it's true that surrealism German and Austrian art and Fauvism were
three movements which were big sellers when he was working and forging paintings but it was another idea a
stroke of genius which allowed Phil Frank Fisher to really begin his career as a forger because he knew straight
copies of paintings were very risky so he developed a hitherto unknown technique he started painting originals
painted in the style of four that he used what were known as catalogue
raisonné which were sort of comprehensive inventory of an artist's works and in these catalogs of works by
artists there would be certain paintings which had disappeared and never been photographed all you had was their title
size and a simple description
introducing technique a sabbatical year he used a technique which was quite unusual and very clever he recreated
paintings which had been lost but which were known to have existed at some stage they were usually illustrated in a
catalogue raisonné with blank squares he was going through the catalogues of these exhibitions reading seeing where
elack's where people where our missing links in the documentation and that's exactly where positioned his face fakes
then and he reinterpreted them using the same size of canvas and the same title
for his paintings which showed a vast knowledge of the work of each artist he copied because he did it remarkably well
in order to paint in the style of both gang pushed his technique to the limit to the point of getting under the skin
of the artists he was imitating [Music]
he said he wasn't just looking at the paintings of the artists he would Forge but he would really try to get
everything on their lives at a certain period up to listening to the music they were listening up to finding out with
whom where they're talking what was their habit in everyday life and then really getting into the mind of the
painter Pranay allonge is a police commissioner in the Crime Squad in
Berlin he was in charge of Wolfgang Fischer's arrest
the stinky Shawn mitten Crimson DFL inverter he really immersed himself in
the work of the artist he was copying he read a lot about them he went to various
places to soak up the atmosphere and to see the landscapes for himself no other
forger had ever shown such inventiveness and imagination in their long-term plan to dupe the market but once these
forgeries had been painted by both gang Fisher he needed to find a way of selling them on the art market in the
spring of 1985 a chance encounter was to allow the forger to dupe the auction houses here in this cafe in the town of
Krefeld he met the man who was to become one of the key characters in his ruse
auto shelter Kellen Gauss essential to
quasi anyone who met auto shelter described him as being or at least appearing to be more serious and more
rigorous than Wolfgang go trucky author short akela house was somebody who
always were ahead and and long black coat and he was a chic gentleman
verse Kang was seduced by the charisma of his new friend and ended up telling him about his activity as a forger a
pact was made vers gang would paint the pictures and otto would take care of
selling them on the art market the heart is the hellish sue from China
foreign lagann fans I'm all fleeting here the fact that he had a presence and was cultured meant that he was taken
seriously by the dealers as worn he
didn't have to convince them of his expertise he certainly had a lot of
contacts with Ian - he's buggy isn't he
was in no way a stranger to the art world with this alliance both gang went
from being a petty criminal to a major criminal the collaboration between the
two men soon bore fruit auto shelters gift of the gab worked a treat in the
art world and with this setup the to manage to dupe numerous professionals
some of the duo's best sellers were forgeries of paintings by German expressionist here Hannes Molson an
artist who had fled Nazi Germany in 1938 leaving behind him numerous paintings
which of today disappeared and are not known about imitating Mulsanne style
first gang Fisher would paint forgeries in his studio and then otto would come
up with a story to explain their reappearance the duo shifted a dozen
paintings and the sale prices far exceeded those Fisher had charged at the flea markets one of the fake Mulsanne's
made them almost 41 thousand euros the auction houses didn't suspect a thing
the style had been perfectly imitated
from the breadth of the brushstrokes down to the quantity of paint used the forger showed real precision he had been
careful to find out what sort of checks were carried out during the sales of valuable paintings in laboratories such
as this one in London canvases are analyzed in great detail Nicholas Easter
is the scientist two years later uncovered Wolfgang Fischer's forgeries
we're looking for materials that might be appropriate for that particular time
or not so things that are anachronistic say so
we're taking samples analyzing in detail to identify say certain pigments that
were only introduced after the supposed date of the painting x-rays carbon
dating tests on the wood the canvas and the pigments everything is scrutinized down to the last detail
to make sure he slipped through the net first gank Fisher chose his pigments carefully and got hold of very old
canvases [Music] he would buy old paintings at flea
markets he would take off the paint from the canvas and then he would paint it
with a new painting don't you love a that way his materials would guaranteed
to be from the right era that meant he could more accurately produce a painting that looked original and he was
incredibly bold when it came to testing how convincing his fakes were he even
sent some of his forgeries to labs such as this one to make sure he passed the scientific tests he's also said that he
produced a test paintings that he would pass by a couple of laboratories anything that was that came up as being
wrong he would eliminate from his palette by the end of the 1980s this was
all volcanic fissure did he painted canvases in waves according to his financial needs sometimes several a year
sometimes ten a month these paintings weren't yet fetching record sums but another encounter was to
change everything
in 1992 the skank Fisher was living on the outskirts of Cologne he met a young
woman aged 34 Helen Bell track II she
was blonde with blue eyes charming and passionate about art
Helen was struck by volsangs charisma and soon fell under his charm [Music]
Beatrice Bray was later a neighbor and close friend of the belt Rockies she is
very familiar with the couple's story [Music] suppose I saw uncle I think it might
have been love at first sight I can't be sure of that but the way he told the story it sounded as if it was love at
first sight yes in 1993 they got married
both gang Fisher took his wife's surname and became vote gang belt Rakhi it was
the start of an explosive partnership [Music]
they met and fallen laughs and they became a laughs couple that was also
like Bonnie and Clyde they yeah a criminal capital from the start and then
uncovered her husband's secret on the walls of his house she noticed several
paintings dating from the start of the 20th century from early on he told her
he and that attracted her to she was
attracted by this criminal guy who has the secret the young bride made a
decision to assist her husband in this major alert fraud between them they came
up with an unthinkable scenario an inspired idea which was to enable them to sell paintings for millions of euros
a ploy in which they showed no hesitation in exploiting the darkest part of their country's history
in the 1930s in Germany under the Nazi regime numerous works of art disappeared
in 1937 Hitler was always against modern
German art and so he gave the order to confiscate all modern art in all the
German museums the beltran keys were interested in one collection in
particular that of Alfred flecked I'm an art dealer who had suddenly fled the country in 1933 leaving behind him a
whole part of his collection revenge is the only expert in the world to have
studied the life of this collector effortless time was not one of the most
important art dealers and and gallerists in germany was Jewish and the travels
didn't like Jews next time had very great difficulties with a right-wing
movement numerous paintings by great masters were confiscated from Fleck
Times collection by the Nazis after he fled paintings which no one had seen for over 60 years
both gang and Helene wanted to make these paintings reappear on the market because they knew that for this type of
work the sale prices were colossal but in order to do that they first had to invent a plausible scenario
[Music] so they came up with the simple idea of
using Helens grandfather Verna Yeager's as a teenager he had lived next door to
the art dealer alfred Fleck time the two men never met but the BAL trackies
imagined a fictional scenario where the collector had sold herlands grandfather numerous paintings for a song okay and
Yeager supposedly hid them because obviously these were considered during the war and under the Nazi regime to be
degenerate works then by force of circumstance they were discovered later much later by his descendants his
grandchildren who finally decided to sell them one by one that was the gist of the story it was the perfect scenario
but in order to make it credible there was one detail missing proof of authenticity from a photo of alfred
flecked i'm wolfgang bell track II made this label which he stuck on the back of the forged paintings he put some tea on
it he put some some some some and and and he artificially aged that the label
it's hard to believe it but this simple label was enough to convince the experts
and whenever any expert appeared suspicious the couple showing incredible daring had
no hesitation in fabricating increasingly far-fetched pieces of evidence in 1995 when the couple were
looking to sell this forged painting girl with a swan by heinrich camp and on an auction house asked them for proof of
the veracity of their story Helen but rocky came up with this old yellowed photograph with jagged edges it showed a
woman whom she claimed was her grandmother Josephine Yeager's sitting in front of the paintings in the
supposedly rediscovered collection in reality the snapshot was completely
fake damn the Batak is Serena zahavy
Newton met order the belt Rockies have constructed the image to look like an old photograph with the grandmother
sitting down and in the background the supposedly original paintings and Giggy
Nala but in reality the woman sitting on that chair was helene dressed in period
costume kameez astonishing as it sounds everybody believed these photos to be
authentic and as the fake period photograph was so well done that even
members of her Lane's family didn't recognize her if somebody would do this in a film everybody would say oh come on
this is not plausible but in reality it is it's in a way very funny in a way
very sick in October 1995 Christie's put
girl with Swan up for auction [Music] it was bought for $100,000 without
anyone questioning its authenticity
we could if we were completely taken in yes we were getting used to the name Verner Yeager's and it even became a
sought-after provenance because we knew it was quite a rare provenance and these paintings had an incredible history and
must have remained hidden for a very long time it's crazy but it shows how much you can believe in things if you
want to and I think that's exactly the point nobody would have thought that somebody would be so crazy to do such
things such a stunt where everybody would say immediately this will be detected nobody will believe in women a
woman posing as her own grandmother but avoid the bell trackies grew more and more confident they were no longer
afraid to tackle the big names in painting with the time what can be
tackled it better his ego grew so much that he also fake now like the big names
of artistry Max Ernst fell normally
j-mac space-time and the big now he was
trying to get the millions not a few thousand euros by 1995 all the
prestigious auction houses like Sotheby's Christie's drew and LEM pets in Germany were without realizing it
selling numerous forgeries supposedly from the flextime collection the
reappearance of certain paintings even provoked a certain euphoria on the market this was a real treasure trove
everyone wanted to play a part in its discovery that question if you call it's always
exciting when things that haven't been seen between 1914 and 2006 suddenly
reappear you think this must be a masterpiece resurfacing and you get
caught up in the emotion of it all you're a bit naive
it was human error based on a fundamental desire to believe in the story because the story was wonderful
and thinking you've hit the jackpot or found the Holy Grail or uncovered an old
collection is every dealers dream that's where Wolfgang belt rocky was so clever
he knew which buttons depressed to win over everyone in the art market and to
lend his works a certain credibility [Music]
some of the art historians who were hired to evaluate these forgeries are today being blamed for their lack of
vigilance an expert is an important figure because
they were in the very end often decisive if painting was accepted or not one of
those experts was varnish piece a major specialist on Max Ernst and the former director of the museo nacional d'art
moderne at paris the honor spits a varnish Spees was considered to be the
world expert on max ernst he wrote the catalogue raisonné
he was a leading light in the art world in total varnish peace authenticated
seven works by Max Ernst which were in reality forgeries by both gang belt rocky he added them to the catalogue
raisonné and issued certificates of authenticity the art historian earned a total of four hundred thousand euros for
his expertise he assumed he was paid a
fee for his services Chucky paid him a commission on the first sale of each painting and that caused problems there
should not be one expert who can tell wrong or right by only looking at a
painting there should be Committees of of experts
who are debating the authenticity of a painting despite the precautions they
took in 1998 both gang and Helen Val tracky came very close to being found out a collector had doubts about the
authenticity of a painting and the German police set up an inquiry I've got Pataki left Germany when he
heard the police was looking for him and so on the bail trackies quickly sold
their house and set off in their camper van according to Renea launched the german
police officer in charge of the investigation there was no doubt about it Wolfgang wanted to flee the country
that's it's done it's the in befogging voice when we wanted to question him he must have fled
to France his version is quite different but I am convinced that he felt we were
on his trail and we couldn't find him in
France the witnesses who saw him last said he was going on a round-the-world trip he travelled around and he finally
found this beautiful spot and southern France and where a lot of artists have
worked a lot of artists he admired or faked it was hearing mez a small town in
aro that Wolfgang Helen and their two children finally settled the German
police eventually forgot about them and closed the investigation
in 1999 the Bell trackies bought this old mansion and did it up
locals started wondering about their fortune how did the Bell trackies earn
so much money [Music]
he talked about a big house he had done up and sold for a very good price people
just thought they had money but they were people of independent means and a
lock and key in his studio in domain derivate first gang bell track he continued painting in secret in 2000 the
art market was experiencing a boom in Cologne Berlin Geneva Paris and London
well trackies four trees were selling like hotcakes every time a Frank Pataki
needed some money then he painted a new fake to get the money and then he would
live for a few months redo it this is a fake on trade around
depicting the port of Cooley or a gallery bought it for three hundred and seventy thousand euros in 2000
[Music] this one is more abstract and attributed
to the German painter Max Ernst [Music]
it's old along with another fake for over a million euros in 2002 this very
beautiful painting portrait of a woman in a hat is a perfect imitation of the style of Dutch painter ki-sun Dongmin it
sold in 2007 for 1.5 million euros in
the auction houses business was booming
Wolfgang Puck rocky spent the first decade of the century quietly painting his forgeries in the South of France
thanks to the collaboration of Auto Show to Kelling house who still handled their distribution the paintings were changing
hands all over the world by has included rich businessman and investment funds
but a few celebrities were also duped by the forger very famous persons who
bought paintings that were forged by Wolfgang Pataki des for instance the
actor Steve Martin who bought a fake um donk and who resold it very fast then
there was for instance Daniel Philippe a key French publisher gt4 near Daniel
philippic yearly book the market on the mistress I found Daniel Philip a key at the time of my investigation in 2013 to ask him
how he felt about it all and his immediate reaction was surprising and very sporting he said that guy is a
genius his painting is very beautiful very accomplished I hung it in my New
York apartment but in the end I decided to take it down the painting sold and then resold after
a while no one knew where they'd come from that was one of the keys to the Belle trackies success
the couple understood how opaque the art market is transactions are kept under wraps for fear of the taxman art market
is for some people like a washing machine for dirty money a laundry machine and so the people
don't ask many questions they don't make
contracts you just do the business by handshake it was a muddle which benefited everyone especially when it
came to tax evasion the forges business
had become very lucrative with the sale of one or two paintings a year both gang
Belle track II was now living in luxury in 2005 he bought a second home 450
square meters in Freiburg they bought a
house in Freiburg a nice beautiful house
on on a hill overlooking fire book and
one of the most most expensive neighborhoods of hi book and they let it
rebuild this house for hundreds of thousands of euros they built a
wonderful swimming pool both gang felt rocky now had a lifestyle
that was very far removed from his original hippie ideals I don't think hippies drink fine wine
and champagne it wasn't part of that culture they had a very nice life they may have looked like hippies but these
were upmarket hippies [Music]
the couple even resorted to cosmetic surgery and treated themselves to facelifts why Frank Pataki not only
faked paintings but he also faked his own face he had a face lifting done and
he even spoke about it to a German magazine back then and saying it is so
nice to have a new young face during these years of opulence the belt Rockies
lived the high life taking holidays in the world's most beautiful palaces they spent lavishly he would travel a lot he
would travel to the nicest hotels in the world I saw the credit card account of him and
he would stay at the nicest hotels and buy at the nicest boutiques and have a
really posh life
perhaps all this luxury went to his head but despite his perfectly honed techniques as a forger Wolfgang belt
rocky was to commit a fatal error he
couldn't stop the greed was too big and he thought he's unavailable
on the 29th of November 2006 in LEM feds auction house in Cologne a forged
painting signed Heinrich Kampf and dog was sold its title red painting with
horses the painting went for 2.8 million euros a record sum for a compen dog in
reality it was a forgery painted by Wolfgang belt rocky sofia comer OVA is
the director of a gallery in Geneva it was she who triggered the downfall of the greatest forger in history it
started with a phone call from one of the gallery's clients who informed me that he had just bought a masterpiece by
campin donk that he had done it of his own accord and I would be proud of his
choice Sofia komarovo was asked by her client to oversee the transaction since
the price of the painting was so high she was very vigilant about its provenance I immediately fetched the catalogue eyes
only from the gallery's library and I saw that usually very detailed information is given
whereas this painting was just listed as being some landscape with red horses
painted in 1914 with no dimensions photos or anything her suspicions
aroused she noticed the label on the back of the painting she wanted to know more about this mysterious collection
so she found Ralph yenge the only expert in the world on alfrid flex time she too
was suspicious of this portrait affixed to the frame of the painting it was
awful I mean I mean fleshed have never would have allowed two to be reproduced so
stupidly I mean he looks like an idiot he looks like and it's terrible it's it's a it's a terrible portrait the
inspired idea which had allowed the belt Rockies to pull off this incredible stunt was now turning against them this
label was arousing everyone's suspicions sofia comer ever had the painting
delivered to london to Nicholas ystos laboratory when he first examined this painting he had no idea of the scale of
the network he was helping to dismantle it was almost another routine job if you
like so it came in with certain questions that I was trying to answer it
didn't signal something particularly unusual as far as we're concerned first
he analyzed the label the results came in thick and fast the glue used was too recent it didn't correspond to the date
of the painting and the presence of traces of coffee on the paper were very suspect they seemed to indicate that an
attempt had been made to artificially age the label then Nicholas Easter took
his first samples of paint and soon there was no doubt about it this painting was a fake
in this instance one of the pigments that we identified with something called
titanium dioxide white and this is a pigment that was essentially an
introduction of the 20th century we don't typically find on paintings before the mid 20th century news of a series of
fake paintings spread like wildfire after the discovery of this fake campin donk all paintings from the now
nefarious Fleck time collection came under scrutiny [Music]
once you had detected 1/4 dream suddenly like a sort of a golden or if you like
red thread suddenly all these forgeries were lined up on like a pearl on the strings and suddenly all these paintings
became doubtful within a fortnight the expert Ralph hench had identified and
located about 15 fake paintings bearing the flex time label in a couple of weeks
I had all the informations of the max irons of other camp and dongs and I saw
the same framing I saw the same labels and for me it was very clear at the time there are all fakes the police started
an investigation and there were a lot of people now trying to find out who is the
forger of these paintings as with us there starts a much of present here that not in the ashram when we presented our
case to the prosecution department it already included five forgeries and on several million euros worth of fraud
this was not the sort of case to come up every day so we soon realized that it would take on massive proportions
the art market was stunned to discover the scale of the scandal
panic spreads through all the major auction houses
yeah I go solamachi Lao there was chaos on the art market everyone quickly tried
to identify whether there were any other candidates and which other paintings that are similar provenance to see
whether they had passed through our hands or not the bowel movement bar everybody was already thinking oh my god
if this is true what would that mean because love was like a domino play one stone would tackle the other and you
would have a display of a scandal of a huge huge dimension the fraud became
obvious people realize that bell trackies paintings had a certain style in common whether by Phyllida ruby the
more I remember seeing the paintings at the laboratory we were comparing a camp
and donk and a dirac it was interesting to see them side by side and to compare them for similarities these weren't
great quality paintings but the packaging the way the nails were rusted and the labels aged the canvas it was
remarkably well done
the police gathered together several witnesses gradually they identified the
gang of forgers on the 25th of August 2010 they searched first auto shelter
keling houses house and then the BAL Trekkies house in Freiburg the couple
were eventually arrested that same evening in their car
the authorities didn't know who they were dealing with they obviously weren't expecting to be dealing with a chic
couple in their 60s so it was a strong-arm arrest with sirens wailing american-style banishment envious tazza
wished it's a tuna we didn't know who we were dealing with Linda varnish for
these man suspects left their property in a large four-wheel-drive car mr. Hawk and Dick Willingham then let's in there
were four people inside and it was raining heavily that day my colleagues had arrest warrants the suspect should
have handed themselves in but that clearly wasn't going to happen so we had to go and bring them in for questioning
whilst they were awaiting their verdict the well trackies were detained in cologne to prepare for the trial Barnea
launched and his teams assembled all the evidence the paintings old tubes of paint stretchers and rolled up canvases
books on the artists and catalogue raisonné
on the 1st of September 2011 the belt Rocky's trial began at the Court of Justice in Cologne is a process that
from begin unfilled and from the start the trial got a lot of media coverage
there was a lot of speculation the
general public generally feels some sort of sympathy for this type of character there is skill involved even if it's a
skill of a forger he had figured out how to profit from the naivety and it greed
or whatever people who have a lot of money like Bonnie and Clyde
the two defendants played up to the cameras journalists were almost won over by this
couple of long-haired hipsters these Robin hood-like characters who stole from the rich the first day of they
seemed very very happy with the wealth they were enjoying the bath in in public
they suddenly became very famous the trial which began in 2011 promised to be
long complex on wide-reaching the case file was massive 8,000 odd
pages long about 200 witnesses were expected to be called but it was soon a huge anticlimax
the trial lasted only 10 days
they just had a handful of testimonies being invited and the case was closed
quite quickly because there was a so-called deal between the belt rocky lawyers and the court the first day of
the trial that he admitted yes I painted those 14 paintings the judge was
satisfied with that confession and the verdict was given both gang and Helen must reimburse the colossal sum of 35
million euros to their victims they were sentenced to six and four years respectively in prison as for Otto he
got five years behind bars as is often the case in Germany the culprits were
only partially incarcerated they had to
stay at the prison at night but they and
daytime they could stay at their home and work some professionals in the art
world seemed quite satisfied with the outcome of the trial the sooner the case was closed
the sooner it would be forgotten [Music] no one really wants to reveal what goes
on behind the scenes in the art market [Music] there were thousands of people in the
art world very happy that this trial wasn't going on but a motion to Jimmy's
photography the art market has never felt very comfortable dealing with fakes and forges there has never been an open
discussion on the subject I think people are afraid of being ridiculed or being
identified as someone who was taken in by the belt Rocky's birth gang and
Elaine belt rocky were released from prison in January 2015 they now live in this house in a residential neighborhood
of cologne the court seized 1 million euros from their Swiss bank account the
house in Freiburg has been sold and a remainder Evette has been mortgaged
and yet according to de biased him who followed the case very closely the resolution of the bowel Trekkie scandal
is not very clear Afghan Pataki earned millions of euros with his forgeries
where all the money has gone is unclear
until today to date over 60 paintings have been uncovered and identified as
being forgeries by Wolfgang belt rocky forgeries for which the forger has still never been tried and he claims to have
painted between 200 and 300 fakes over the course of his career
since his release from prison he has stopped forging paintings and has decided to capitalize on his incredible
story now famous he has made numerous TV appearances and is fast becoming a
legend the Burt Rockies are now selling
their story if you like so their touring through the talk shows in in Germany there are parts of movies and films
documentaries about them finally be exposed in a way because he now could
tell the whole world what what a genius
for to he is but when it comes to going a bit further and telling the true story
Wolfgang dothraki had refused to respond to any communication we rang the
doorbell of his home in studio in Cologne but no one answered we approached him on several occasions for
an interview but the couple their lawyers and even his publisher refused to grant us one you are not allowed to
use or to show any unauthorized material of our clients here in his studio the
artist is now concentrating on his own paintings which he sells for up to $12,000 apiece paintings which have
received a somewhat lukewarm response to say the least
I was really disappointed by what I saw so far because it even looks weak on a
technical scale he's not at all talented as far as I'm concerned nothing has
changed he remains mediocre in his own artistic output perhaps that's why evolve gang
felt rocky refused to let us show his paintings in our documentary today he's selective about the
appearances he makes and is building his own legend that of an aging hippie a
talented artist who was simply pleasing himself never mind the millions of euros he
stole along the way [Music]
[Applause] [Music]
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Is Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' A Fake?: The Fake Van Gogh's
Timeline - World History Documentaries
Mar 27, 2018

Was the most expensive painting ever sold at auction a fake? This award-winning documentary explores the authenticity of the Sunflowers painting by Vincent van Gogh, bought in the late 1980s for a then record sum by a Japanese insurance company.

In 2002, the painting went on public exhibition alongside an undisputedly genuine version of Sunflowers, raising once again the questions so vividly posed in this film.


among the tragedies of the American bombing of Japan in 1945 was the loss of
a painting of five sunflowers by Van Gogh Japan's favorite artist [Music]
thirty two and a half million at twenty two and a half million pounds last time
at twenty two and a half million pounds at twenty two million five hundred
thousand pounds for the last time what forty-three this painting of fourteen
sunflowers by Van Gogh made almost three times the previous record price for a picture the buyer was from Japan the
Yasuda far and marine insurance company of Tokyo but had they bought a new
national treasure or an expensive fake
your--the anticipation may have seemed a joke at the time but doubts were already
being expressed it's a very funny muddy picture and it did Ben Vincent van Gogh
was not muddy okay you said well it needs to be cleaned and all that that's not the case there's something it's not
put together and it doesn't have that snap the latest fake scandal hit the
auction rooms when Van Gogh's gardener Dover was put up for sale in Paris press
coverage of the sale sparked a media witch-hunt of suspicious van Gogh's it had been suggested that the garden
was a fake before the sale but the auctioneers carried on regardless the
bidding didn't go high enough and it wasn't actually sold [Applause]
Richard Rodriguez a French lawyer and connoisseur thought it should never have been put up for auction in the first
place he objected saying a recently published book doubted the picture's authenticity
since I was told the sunflowers was a fake back in 1987 I've been longing to have a go at it as a journalist fix have
always been my speciality the van Gogh fakes were made at the turn of the century shortly after his death they got
muddled up with his real work and everyone's assumed ever since that they were genuine today this has produced a
fantastic model estimates of the number of fakes have gone as high as a hundred
leading scholars agree that the fakes exist but they fight among themselves over which they are and complain
bitterly about each other's ignorance in private the van Gogh Museum has an embargo on certain family documents no
one has been allowed access to some of the key evidence museums and sale rooms
hide behind confidentiality clauses there's just too much money and too many
reputations at stake the case of the Yasuda sunflowers highlights all these
the painting was unwrapped in Tokyo with all the respect due to the greatest painter in the world and an enormous sum
of money the evidence against this picture seems to me overwhelming there
are three versions of this bars of 14 sunflowers Vincent often copied his own pictures so
on the face of it there is nothing surprising about him repeating the subject but the Yasuda painting is the
only one not mentioned in his letters the only one that is unsigned and is
thought by connoisseurs to be visually inferior to the other two the renewed
doubts about the version in the London National Gallery which was painted in August 1888 it was bought directly from
the van Gogh family the Asuna picture is a copy of it whether by Vincent or not
for a period in the 1980s the Yasuda painting hung on loan alongside the
original everyone could see it was not as good
the third painting of 14 sunflowers has never left the family collection and is
now in the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam the almost daily letters that Vincent
wrote to his art dealer brother Theo never mentioned the Yasuda picture only the London and Amsterdam versions there
are essentially three ways to investigate whether a painting is a fake by visual comparison by studying
documentary evidence and by scientific tests all of them will be needed if an
answer is to be found to the Yasuda mystery
the person who has spent more time than anyone else chasing documentary evidence on the fakes is Benoit lon day he was not
trained as an art historian but has been working on Van Gogh for the past seven years he is convinced that the Yasuda
sunflowers is not by Van Gogh on two versions there are three petals on the
flower the version of London and the version now in Tokyo in the other one of
him standing are two so this these two
are now connected so if you look the
announcement of the cover of the catalog when it was sold the yellow here is put
over to brown which is on the background
and that is true everywhere okay it's not the way Vincent was working because
he was working by colors I wouldn't say it isn't a fake without
having seen it and really have made very definite stories about it but I couldn't
be sure I cannot tell really tell decide everything for sure but for me if you
want to decide anything you should have to do a lot of technical research for
the outcome to know exactly what's what so you don't actually exclude the
possibility that this is by a different hand you just say that you haven't seen
it yes and it's a whole puzzle that still needs to be studied and when I got
this catalog I remember having said to miss no man look it's a funny thing I got a special
catalogue my christy of a star panting oh they are going to sell and for me it's a copy done by a clumsy artist
the man who first challenged the sunflowers in public is a Milanese quantity severe Antonio de Roberta's the
study of van gock is for him a passionate hobby at his knowledge won him a hundred million lira about fifty
thousand pounds from a TV quiz in 1990 he has put all his doubts about the
sunflowers on the internet and is the bit noir of professional scholars unlike
them he wants to make a big public issue of it yes oh no absolutamente con viento
questo Poirot nausea demon God so no drop a probe a kml owe me a no convene
toe NC to toe questo Quadro money my cheetah tonalá correspond Enza de
vincent Asaf Rotello namaste aunty van gock GT per beam Ventus at the vaulting
partly the Zira soul in LA later a fatty or fratello in a Sunnah request a venti
set day later a request a venti Satechi tascioni SI parla my request Okada no
I'm very interested in the new theories I think they're they're very they're
filled with Sherlock Holmes and we all like a great mystery we all like a great sensationalist whodunit but sadly the
stylistic grounds in this case I think could be accounted for several reasons
one it could be that it was a painting that was possibly more mishandled the
other probable issue is that the sunflowers is a work which we all expect
to be brilliant but it has suffered [Music]
to unravel the mystery we need to look at Vincent's life [Music]
the sunflowers were painted in our a little town in the South of France where he moved in february 1888 by that time
he was 35 and had been painting for eight years the son of a dutch pastor he
had worked in an art gallery then became a preacher he was always emotionally unstable and neither career suited him
he was a slow developer as a painter and it was only when he reached all that the great period of his work began
he painted the surrounding landscape and the town itself particularly the cafe
run by his friends the rulers [Music]
you never had enough money but he managed to drink quite heavily and became a habitué of the local brothels
the townspeople considered him a curiosity [Music]
he sent his paintings in batches to his art dealer brother Theo in Paris to whom he wrote almost daily about his work
the letters are crucial evidence when chasing fakes Vincent dreamed of bringing other
painters to our and establishing a studio of the South he took over half a derelict house known as the yellow house
only Goga actually came to join Vincent it was to decorate Gaga's room in the
yellow house that Vincent painted his famous series of sunflower pictures I
turned to Allan tareka the man who had first told me that Yasuda sunflowers was a fake for a visual explanation of
what's wrong with the picture the one we are going to speak it out about he is a
Paris art dealer who has a formidable reputation as a fake spotter colleagues in the trade and museum curators bring
him their problems he told me that it would be easier to explain if he could show the three pictures together so he
had replicas made first out of the wrapping came the Yasuda picture the one
tareka calls a fake it was followed by the sunflowers from the London National
Gallery the third is the picture from the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam these
three pictures have never been seen side by side before tarika showed us how the
faker had misunderstood what van Gogh was painting here we see for instance
this sleeve you see this lid here is made of two kind of greens and it's
attached normally to the stem here also we see the green leave here which is
attached normally to the stem here it's made only with one kind of green but
it's still alive but here it's like if the stem was going foo was going was
crossing the leaf we have the feeling that the stem is going through the liver
and this is abnormal in the natural in the real mature the leaf doesn't go on
the stem this way that's an mystic VAT the painter did while he
tried to repeat the image which is well for instance here we see the stem here
which is broken you see and here the stem has continuity it's normal and here
also the same this stem between those two flowers and respecting the life of
each of the elements here the painter had problem of disposing the stem you
know which means that this flower now is
holding on a stem which is broken and the degree of life I would say the
degree of life the evolution of life of the flower doesn't correspond to the evolution of the statement and there are
other elements for instance in the center flower here when van got painted
it of course the petals are tied to the center part of the flower if we look at
the copy that I did which is in Amsterdam we find of course the same phenomenon which is the petals of the
center flower are connected to the center part of the flower if we look now
at the Yasuda panting we see the petals here are not connected with the center
part because because we are painted with thickened pesto's the Pentel could not
handle the thick brush stroke here to connect it correctly with the center
part of the flower he couldn't have felt like that and make all of these mistakes which we'll have
seen which are clumsy which correspond to the clumsiness of the handling of
thickened pesto's and for him panting we're thinking pesto's was not away was
not difficult because it's not that he had learned it some way that's how he was writing with bent for all of his
reasons i think that this painting is a fake painting done by crucio artist
you know the sunflower is a life-giving flower and it also produces oil but it
also produces turpentine for painting it's an artist's of medium as well which
I didn't really know about
but in RL when van Gogh painted these works he painted them mainly because
they were yellow and I think by this time he had a very careful symbolic association with certain colors and
yellow for him definitely was represented as a life-giving color associated with the Sun in nature but
also with love and gratitude the symbol of life but also anticipation of
Gauguin's arrival because as you know he painted these sunflowers for the decoration of the yellow house
it remained as he said in his one of his last letters to Albert or ei The Critic
he says you know every artist has had his certain flower father coast had the
hollyhock I have the sunflower
so somehow he associated himself from I'm sure a lot of iconographic and spiritual reasons to naturalistic
reasons and artistic reasons with the sunflower but they are definitely integrated with his preparation of the
welcome to began to come to our Oh [Music]
yeah really your seal told me you wouldn't tell me take these things come
on you have trouble finding the place Oh your painting things are hearing some canvases they arrived a day before yesterday
but I fixed this room up for you [Music]
it's very nice [Music]
I painted that with you
that's very friendly Vincent
it's very friendly but the stormy
artistic temperaments clashed and famously Vincent cut off part of the lobe of one year in an attempt at
emotional blackmail this nervous storm landed him in an asylum in nearby sorry
me he often painted in the asylum garden and some of his best pictures date from
this period
a year later apparently recovered he moved north to Ostia was where he lived
and painted for two months he loved the big open skies and the cornfields but it
was a difficult time since Theo had just got married and Vincent felt that he was losing his brother's affection and
support in a fit of depression he went
out into the countryside and shot himself [Music]
Vincent died after two days of agony he was carried to his grave with sunflowers
on his coffin his brother Theo inherited all his paintings but shattered by what
had happened also lost his reason and only survived Vincent by six months they
are buried side by side in the hilltop cemetery at AU there with Theo's death
or first-hand knowledge of why how and when the pictures were painted was lost by unanimous family consent ownership of
all Vincent's pictures was passed to Theo's one-year-old son Vincent Willem van Gogh this meant that Theo's Widow
Johanna who was 28 at the time found herself in charge of almost all her
brother-in-law's paintings and it was this young Dutch woman who put Vincent on the map she built the van Gogh myth
by laborious ly transcribing his letters Vincent and Theo had written to each other several times a week and Theo kept
all the letters he received the letters give a vivid account in words and pictures of what Vincent was doing and
feeling and of course whether he mentions a picture and how he describes it is crucial evidence for fake spotters
all the sunflower pictures are mentioned in the letters except for the Yasuda version in contemporary documents all of
them get referred to just as tournesol the French for sunflowers making it difficult to work out which picture is
being talked about this happens with Joanna's inventory of paintings inherited from Vincent if you accept
that the Yasuda painting is genuine then there are not enough sunflower entries on her list
it was the Paris Exhibition of 1901 at the bound homes yearn gallery that finally established his reputation it
also gives us a vital clue to the identity of the man who may have made a large number of the suspected fakes
there were 65 pictures in the exhibition catalog all borrowed from Paris dealers
and collectors and 11 of them are now suspected of being fakes it included
three sunflower pictures Yasuda was number five and the catalog tells us that it was led by Claude Emil
chiffon iike a minor artist who was a friend of Goga for the last few days of
the show the London version was also exhibited it is the first photograph in the gallery's album it arrived late
because chef Annika had been restoring it for Johanna chef Annika is our prime
suspect he had the opportunity to make a copy while he was restoring the London painting the sunflowers for me I can
only tell you that from having examined it closely I can talk about it from the point of view of shufen ëthis life and
skills the opportunity to do it was there the skill to do it was certainly
there I have no question about that the intention to do it as a copy might have
been there the intention to do it as a forgery was quite another thing [Music]
Jill gross vocal was the curator of an exhibition of schaffernakís own work at the priori
in Sajha male in the autumn of 1996 he had a very good eye he really was the
initiator of the collections of gogans work and and Vincent's work at the
beginning he painted in a way that represented his training his earliest
training was quite academic but he was very open he remained very open and so
he moved from one pattern of painting into another with relative ease because
he was trying to locate his own persona he was a highly intelligent and highly
cultured and highly complicated individual I think he is someone who certainly investigated the
contradictions that is to say how is it that it was possible to recognize the
genius in a work by Cezanne or go gallivant go orchid door and yet not be
able to assume his rightful place alongside these giants I think this was
a major awareness he had all his life Joe Venegas daughter was to inherit
several van Gogh fakes her father had the classic psychological profile of the
faker an artist so bitter at his own lack of recognition that he makes fakes
to prove connoisseurs can't tell the difference in his own mind that makes him just as good as the artists he
imitates [Music]
this picture was painted by googa who was a close friend and often lived with the family in Paris he is said to have
had an affair with chauffeur Necas wife who later demanded a divorce possibly the financial motive for the
fakes another suspected fake that has
close links with the chauffeur NECA family is Vincent's self-portrait with a bandaged year now in the court held
Gallery London I think it's absolute forgery it's made as a
third of it and it's not only the quality of the paintings which i think
is very inferior to the other one if you
see how clear this image is the the head here the clear eyes it is righteous
ruler you see from the self-portrait that my health is absolutely restored
now because I'm absolutely clear and it's to be seen in this painting
if you look here he looks Haggard and he never paints himself has many is working
he's intent on what he is doing and he is very clear-headed also depends Mouse
hasn't MIT doesn't make any sense but there's no pipe to a picture of a
mountain she was idiotic so if you look at this painting this is
marvelous painting you have to realize that fin sent was a true realists if he
painted himself he painted himself as it was at the time here you see he has cut
is here and he is there is a bandage here and the bandage is put in place my
piece of linen or going all around if you look here at this painting there is
no bandage there's only the Lynn going all out the father doesn't realize her
situation was have you any idea who might have painted that if it's not by
Van Gogh no no I because photos aren't used to
announce them surface search Amy Osho Faneca earned the genuine picture at one
time and made this copy of it now in the van Gogh Museum so he could easily have
made a forgery as well Christi's commissioned a promotional
film showing the successful marketing of the asou de painting and how they had checked its provenance they might not
have been so pleased to find a chiffon echo inscription had they known more about his reputation one of the first
steps with every work of art that comes for auction at Christie's is physical appraisal this rigorous examination of
the painting will establish or in the case of a van gogh confirms its authenticity scholarly research is vital
to sort out what happened nearly a hundred years ago this makes the van Gogh Museum in
Amsterdam and its extensive archives crucially important to all potential detectives Vincent's enormous popularity
particularly with the Japanese means that this tiny museum gets 700,000
visitors a year [Music] it is a family Museum Vincent's nephew
inherited all the pictures when he was one year old as an old man in 1962 he
arranged that the Dutch government would build a museum where the family paintings could hang they now belong to
a foundation controlled by the van Gogh family but funded by the state the
family is very sensitive about evidence which reflects badly on their forebears and have consistently denied scholars
access to certain key documents the museum is still a stumbling block to sorting out the fake problem 1901 nope
to the 1900 world fair
the museum recruited a new director in 1997 John Leighton from the London
National Gallery who is struggling to be more open but he has to work within the
traditional limitations John do you feel that you can discuss with us the debate about the
authenticity of the pseudo sunflowers we have a very clear policy and discussing
works of art and the attribution works about to belong to other people and without the express permission of the
owner I wouldn't feel confident are happy about doing that so I'm afraid not
the museum is currently building a new wing it is financed by the Yasuda Fire &
Marine insurance company of Tokyo out of gratitude for the popularity and profits that the purchase of the sunflowers has
brought them Yasuda has contributed thirty seven and a half million dollars
under these circumstances it is difficult to believe that the van Gogh museum could give an unbiased opinion on
the authenticity of the painting the
first big fake scandal erupted in Berlin in 1928 there was a loan exhibition at
the prestigious Paul casera gallery specialists in modern art which included
several pictures from the dealer Otto vaca Mariana Franken felt remembers what
happened when these pictures arrived it suddenly realized that they were painted
by one person but not by phone book not by the same person is the other
paintings and then of course the whole thing exploded very quickly Berlin was a
very gossipy town everybody wanted to keep secret but it was quite impossible and came to the press very soon and
people who had bought these pictures brought them to be taken back and as
everybody knows they were a trial much later I remember that my husband his
firm parkus IRA never had bought one of these paintings but not at all because
he didn't believe in it but he didn't like them he always said they were done and
without the real fungal coloring but people bought them after only one didn't
doubt paintings at that time it was not used that they were fakes and did you meet taka himself no only at the trial I
saw him first time at the trial when he told everybody that he was a dancer by
the name of William de lluvias I don't know why I kept this name in my mind I
must say it was very exciting because all the famous art historians were giving their opinion and every time
in the opinion Vacca who never admitted his guilt was jailed for 19 months and
fined some of his pictures had been bought by major collectors the cursory
exhibition was to celebrate the publication of the first complete catalogue of Van Gogh work
compiled by a Dutchman called buck de la vie his book is still the van Gogh Bible
he started work on it because people were already getting muddled about fakes and he hoped to clear things up but the
first edition actually contained 33 of the Vaca fakes
seven years later laughs I had to publish another book titled live for Van GOG the fake Van Gogh's it contained the
VUCA paintings and many others one of
the major collectors of the pre-war years was mrs. Cruella moola and her museum in the Dutch countryside contains
an even greater collection of Van Gogh's than the van Gogh Museum itself it also contains a lot of mistakes
the curator has had the courage to remove them from the main gallery and tuck them away install this one dates
back to the great scandal of the 1920s doesn't it yes what is it in the body in
Charlene - yes yes many of the problematic paintings are flower
paintings you have little documentary proof about any painting so this gives a
lot of opportunity for people to be creative and then these two we're moving
right on not well that's certainly supposedly sorry me isn't it yes can you
explain why that says to you that it's not may not be by going off when you see
it amongst the other works it would be easier to explain this difference so you
see it when it's hanging upstairs more vividly than when it's done yeah yes that's the tragedy with many fakes that
in order to show that they are fakes you better show them in the real gallery but
after you have decided not to do then you've taken them out of that yes it
would be nice if we would have something like the yayyyyy for painting but something like
that doesn't exist the Musee d'Orsay in
Paris has a group of paintings given to the nation in the 1950s by Paul Gautier son of the doctor who looked after
Vincent in over there are eight paintings supposedly by Van Gogh some of
which are now thought to be fakes they may even have been painted by the doctor himself this is as it were and Estelle
who is also a chief curator is deeply concerned by the problems a painting of
Gachet who is now it's question whether he may have painted some of them and got
himself so there is no record of there being a second version the first version
was auctioned at Christie's New York in May 1990 and made the highest price for any picture ever
the gushy portrait was bought by Japanese billionaire who died in 1996
one of the world's greatest pictures it has been out of sight in a bank fort for more than seven years there are two
paintings of dr. Gachet two portraits that are very similar one that was sold
recently and is now in Japan and one in the Musee d'Orsay what do you think
about them one is genuine and the other is not this one is the good one but we
can find in the in the painting itself the proof of the hand of the master the
landscape is mixed to the portrait by the fact the line is quite the same line
and the same colors are changing a bit that they are the same colors coming on
it and the same same shape and to make a wedding between the coat of cachet and
the chalice you can see it's quite the same kind of shape three times the coat
and the flower they are two in fact and also this corner is the same at that and
this column is also the same okay that
all is lost in the copy if you see this
painting in a flea market you never think it can be Bangkok if you don't
know the other why the colors are in
conflict so its aggressive no melancholy the head of cachet is not anymore in the
corner but it's not anymore the arm skinny at all they tried you can see
they try to do it there is absolutely no
reason to imagine that Vincent could have done this thing and more than that we know that on 15 of
June there was only one portrait of
Gachet because in later he says I have now one portrait of King and because
it's so far from the work of instance I am sure it's a copy


[Geraldine Norman] In Auvers, Vincent stayed in a little auberge [inn] run by the Ravoux family. He lived there for just over two months and is credited with having painted eighty-three pictures -- which means more than a picture a day. Some of them must be fakes, and were probably painted by the Gachet circle. Dr. Gachet was a painter, and so was his son Paul known as Coco. After he had shot himself, Vincent struggled back to the auberge mortally wounded.  

[Dominique Janssens, Institut Van Gogh, Auvers-Sur-Oise] Adeline, the daughter of the innkeeper, had seen that he was [inaudible]. That's why she came up to his room to check what happened. And then they called the local doctor. And the local doctor didn't want to take care of Vincent, because everybody in the village knew it was Dr. Gachet who takes care for the painters. So Dr. Gachet came over, and then when he had seen there was nothing to do, he asked the neighbor, [Perchick?], to go to Paris to pick up Theo. So Theo arrived at about 12 o'clock, and at one o'clock in the morning he died here in his room. Now Dr. Gachet came over with his son, and he said to his son, "roll, Coco." Because the more he was rolling the paintings, the more he could bring them back home. And that's how he got a collection of paintings on Van Gogh, which are today in the museum at Orsay.

[Geraldine Norman] Dr. Gachet and his son seemed to have taken as many paintings as they could. Gachet specialized in mental illness and homeopathy, but had been a keen amateur painter since his student day. His home attracted many artists, including Renoir, Pissarro and Cezanne, who came to him for medical advice, and loved experimenting with his etching press. Dr. Gachet died in 1909, but his son lived on in the house, becoming more and more eccentric and reclusive. He never had a job, and seems to have lived off selling the pictures and antiques that his father had crammed into the house. One villager, who has devoted her life to the study of local history, is Madame Claude [Migon?].

[Madame Claude (Migon?)] [Speaking French] He wouldn't tolerate people coming to the house. Not even local tradesmen, or people interested in the works.

[Geraldine Norman] [Speaking French] How could he live like that? He had to eat!

[Madame Claude (Migon?)] [Speaking French] It's a mystery. Like many things in this man's life. He was truly his father's son.

[Geraldine Norman] He kept very quiet very quiet about the Van Goghs, until he made a series of donations to French national collections in the 1950s. His gifts, now in the Musee d'Orsay, include works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Pissarro, and Cezanne. He also gave the nation paintings by his father and himself. He signed his pictures, including copies of works by other artists, with the pseudonym Louis Van Ryssel. His father called himself Paul van Ryssel. The museum has reacted to the controversy by having the Gachet Van Goghs scientifically investigated, and announcing that they will mount an exhibition of all Gachet's donations to public institutions in the autumn of 44:30 1998. This is sure to spark another explosive argument.

[Dominique Janssens, Institut Van Gogh, Auvers-Sur-Oise] You have seen when you walk up to the cemetery, the countryside is exactly how it was a hundred years ago. Japanese, they don't come only to visit, but also to bring offers for Vincent. And certain days we just clean the cemetery. And you have lots of little pots of sake, brushes, and also a lot of Japanese who died in in Japan, their dream is to be buried with Vincent. So a lot of Japanese bring over the ashes here, and then they put it on the graves of Vincent and Theo.

[Geraldine Norman] The number of Japanese tourists who come to worship at the van Gogh shrine in Auvers, got a big boost when Yasuda bought the sunflowers in 1987. It will be a terrible disappointment to the nation if they discover their famous sunflower picture is not really by Van Gogh.

[To Tom Hoving, Ex-Director Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC] What do you think Yasuda is going to say if they actually have to face the fact that they are landed with a fake?

[Tom Hoving, Ex-Director Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC] Oh, I don't think they'll face it. I think they hope it'll go away. I do not think that the people in charge of the insurance company are going to let regiments of experts in to take it off the exhibition, and look at it, and maybe even do some analysis, and so on. I just don't think they're gonna do that. I think it would be a very great loss of face. I think the picture was purchased because the only other Vincent van Gogh in Japan prior to the United States firebombing of Tokyo, was a sunflowers, which was destroyed.

[Geraldine Norman] It is said that the painting was relined after its arrival in Japan, which may mean that important evidence has been lost.

The relining of an oil painting on canvas comes about when the original canvas is frayed, worn or damaged. It is sometimes necessary when the stretcher on which the painting is fixed has decayed or become damaged. The process of relining is essential to bond the old canvas onto a new canvas making sure that as the two canvases are bonded together no air is trapped between the two surfaces. Whilst relining has been established in picture restoration for a long time it is not a task which can be undertaken by unskilled hands. Relining is sometimes necessary when a picture has been punctured or damaged from the front and before any repainting to the damaged surface can be completed, a stable background needs to be provided to accommodate any filling and new paint. -- Relining, by

We asked Yasuda if we could talk to them about this, and our views on the sunflowers problem. Yasuo Goto, the chairman of the company, replied, "We have no intention of participating in any discussion of sunflowers' authenticity, as we hold no doubts whatsoever that it is genuine. We also have no intention of answering the questions mentioned in your letter." I personally find it impossible to believe that the Yasuda sunflowers is by Van Gogh. There's too much evidence against it. It's not mentioned in the letters, or other early documents. It first appears in the hands of Emile Schuffenecker, whose name has long been linked with faking. And it is generally agreed that it is visually inferior to the other two. It does disturb me, however, that so many experts still think it genuine. They aren't talking to each other, and don't know each other's arguments. Which is why the muddle persists. If the experts, the Van Gogh Foundation, and Mr. Goto from Yasuda, could be persuaded to divulge what they know, the truth about the Yasuda picture could be found. Using secrecy to protect their reputations and huge investments just won't do. Christie's has both money and reputation at stake, and has opted for silence. They refused to be interviewed, and issued a statement saying, "We see no reason, on the evidence so far produced, to alter our original opinion that the sunflowers is an authentic work by Van Gogh."

[Tom Hoving, Ex-Director Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC] You don't ever get a concert of opinion in art. Very seldomly you get it. And so this, I think, will just kind of go on forever. And since it's not going to ever be for resale, does it matter?

[Dr. Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, Prof. History of Art, University of Toronto] Most of us who know Van Gogh -- and I think a lot of us do, or profess to know a lot about Van Gogh -- know that this very simple man, filled with great humility and compassion for mankind, saw these works as different legacies than financial ones. I think he would be horrified, and distraught beyond anything you can imagine, to see himself somersaulted to such tremendous value, and such crass commercialism. I think it would have been something that he couldn't have ever tolerated.
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