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Cincinnati man helps bust prolific art forger

CINCINNATI (Deb Dixon) -- The film "Art and Craft" has its world premiere Tuesday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

The star of the documentary is a forger who duped museums across the country.  But his co-star, if you will, is the local man who exposed him.  We first told you about Matt Leininger when he was director of museum services at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Inside the briefcase is six years of research that exposes art forger Mark Landis' 30 years of deception.  Matt Leininger first discovered the art hoax when he worked at the Oklahoma City Art Museum.  Landis donated a painting in memory of his mother.

Leininger said, "When I looked up the watercolor in Oklahoma City, found one with the same credit line that showed up at Savannah School of Art and Design.  I didn't know I uncovered the most prolific art forger that never sold anything."
Which is why Landis has never been charged with a crime.  It seems like a generous act of philanthropy when he donates a Picasso to a museum.  Leininger found the digital deception with a black light, reproductions painted over. 

The film follows Landis and his aliases that includes a Jesuit Priest.  The film also moves into the complex world of mental health.  Landis is a diagnosed Schizophrenic.

Matt's dossier includes all the paintings given to museums.  Some want to remain anonymous, embarrassed they were  duped.  Before the film the story was told in the New Yorker, several art magazines and the Financial Times.

"When Financial Time's piece came out there were only three aliases. After that Mark Lin, Jus Martin, John Growlman," said Matt.
Leininger found Landis' fake art in 60  institutions in America.  He believes there are more that won't admit it.  The film is expected to be in theaters later this year.

Follow Deborah Dixon on Twitter @crimestopperdeb and LIKE her on Facebook.




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