Trailer of the documentary
In the same way that Orson Welles focused his famous F for fake (Fraud, in Spanish, 1973) on the falsifications of the Hungarian painter Elmyr de Hory and his biographer, Clifford Irving, the Spanish director Kiki Maíllo (Eva, 2011) follows in the footsteps of Oswald in a documentary that captures the excesses and life at full speed of a somewhat eccentric and overly egocentric character, but with a charisma and a story worth telling, who dedicated his expertise to falsifying works by Miró, Chagall, Tàpies, Dalí or Picasso, among others.
Oswald. The Falsifier is the title of this film, which has been released in theaters and on Filmin simultaneously, and with which Maíllo has traveled to Italy and the United States, in addition to filming in Spain, to track this character with "pirate" vocation. In it, the director reviews, through the voices of the FBI, the Mossos d'Esquadra and the Carabinieri, the so-called "Operation Artist", in which Oswald Aulestia was one of the main culprits, along with the Italian dealer Elio Bonfiglioli and the American Michael Zabrin, who also speak in this documentary. All three ended up in jail.
"I have been a pirate, a freeloader, an egoist," says the artist of himself
This police case actually serves as an excuse to listen first-hand to Oswald Aulestia, as well as to those who loved him most - his ex-wife, his daughter or his brothers - or those who had the opportunity to live with him. "I have been a pirate, a living person, an egoist," says the artist. The vision that this forger has of himself is completed with the portrait that those close to him make of him. "Eccentric", "spoken", "peculiar", "rocker", "histrionic", "narcissistic", "magician" or a "seducer" who knew how to "persuade and deceive". Any list of adjectives falls short of the character to whom Maíllo dedicates a documentary.
His only objective was to rob the rich to have a good time and it all started when at the age of 23, after getting into trouble - he hit a civil guard and took his gun - he dressed as a "tourist" and crossed the French border. . When he arrived in Italy to collect money from a gallery owner, he did not receive the amount owed but he gave him an idea: to create a fake work and make it appear that his wife was Miró's mistress. Thus, the spiteful artist managed to sell pieces attributed to great artists about which people "did not even doubt." "I'm not great, but I'm original," says Oswald.
Oswald. The Forger also serves as a reflection on the world of art, on the contradictions and paradoxes that persist in a world in which interest in money and cultural interest come into conflict. "How come no one has denounced me? Those who I sold preferred to keep the painting rather than denounce me. Because if they kept it they made millions, if they denounced it the painting was no longer worth anything," he points out. Among those who have works by Oswald in their possession, names such as Madonna, Stallone, Luis Miguel or Ricky Martin stand out.
Those I sold to preferred to keep the painting rather than sue me. Because if they kept it they made millions, if they reported it the painting was no longer worth anything," says Oswald.
It is striking how well Oswald Aulestia holds up to the structure of the documentary, despite having lived outside the law and how well he overcomes the secrecy typical of someone who lives outside the law, with pending cases in the United States and with requests for extradition. "Will you falsify again?" asks Maíllo, who directs the plot. "I think the pirate's motto is always there," he answers.
"Everything is made of papier-mâché, everything is a fraud, everything is a deception." Oswald Aulestia is an artist with the genius of great names. It was not enough for this 76-year-old Catalan to create and strengthen a solid career in the art world, in which he became a reference for pop art, but he preferred to opt for "a life without rules" in which he served of his expertise in painting works and contributing to a chain of forgeries that made him the biggest art fraudster in the world.
Buy his original artworks here
Oswald's exhibition at Mrs. Toolip Art Gallery Barcelona
Oswald Aulèstia & Mrs.Toolip