Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Brigido Lara (b.?) is a Mexican ex-forger of pre-Columbian antiques. He says he created maybe 40,000 pieces of forged pre-Columbian pottery.
Brigido Lara begun to create forgeries in 1950s and 1960s. He created many items in the style of Mayans, Aztecs and especially lesser-known Totonacs – in fact in such of extent that majority of Totonac finds may be actually his work. He worked in a museum, where he was acquainted with both to original artifacts and potential customers.
Lara sold his work as genuine Mexican antiquities; buyers did not ask many questions since they were buying contraband - taking antiquities out of Mexico is illegal. Some of the works were sold to Morton D. May collection and Metropolitan Museum of Art, dated A.D. 400–700 and attributed to the Remojadas culture in Veracruz. In 1971, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History presented a large exhibition entitled "Ancient Art of Veracruz" – Lara later recognized many of the exhibits as his work.
In July 1974 Mexican police arrested a group of what looked like antique smugglers – Brigido Lara with them. Antiquities expert declared Lara's forgeries genuine. In prison Lara requested fresh clay and to prove his innocence of smuggling, created just the items he was accused of smuggling. The same antique expert declared them genuine as well. Lara was released January 1975.
The state Anthropology Museum in Xalapa later hired Lara as a restorer and to recognize forgeries.
1987 Brigido Lara told his story to two journalists from Connoisseur magazine. Through them the St. Louis Art Museum heard that their Morton D. May collection contained his forgeries. Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art also realized they had Lara forgeries in their collections, thought they initially claimed that there was no proof.
Lara continues to sculpt in ancient styles but now signs his work and is a licensed maker of replicas . He calls his previous forgeries as "his originals" or "original interpretations".
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