Art Fraud Forensics

An engineer helps curators foil forgers

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How many engineering jobs let you hold a van Gogh masterpiece in your hands? The kind C. Richard Johnson Jr. landed. An electrical engineering professor at Cornell University, Johnson is also a research fellow at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Johnson says he “speaks the language of people on both sides.”


And when the two sides talk, they mainly talk about how to detect fraud.


Two years ago, Johnson organized a conference that brought together researchers from the United States and the Netherlands. The researchers processed high-resolution images with special signal-processing algorithms to help sort fake van Goghs from real ones at the brushstroke level.