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Family Of Chun Kyung Ja Continues Deceased Artist's Fight To Have 'Fake' Version Of Her Painting 'Beautiful Woman' Removed From Seoul Museum

by Jesse Lent / Mar 31, 2016 03:20 PM EDT
artist Chun Kyung Ja
artist Chun Kyung Ja

The South Korean painter Chun Kyung Ja was quite clear on how she felt about the version of her painting "Beautiful Woman" still in the collection in Seoul's National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA).

"Parents can recognize one's child," Chun said, according to a recent Korea Times report. "That is not my painting."

Before the artist's death in October at the age of 91, the scandal over "Beautiful Woman" had mostly faded from the spotlight. But it was her frustration over the alleged forgery of her work that prompted the artist to leave South Korea in favor of the US in 1991 and completely disappear from the public eye, donating 93 paintings to the Seoul Museul of Art and moving to New York, where she lived until her death.

That was before a group of formidable attorneys hired by Chun's family that includes former president of Korea Bar Association Wi Cheol Hwan and former president of the Seoul Bar Association Oh Wook Hwan, filed a lawsuit claiming the museum had violated Chun's rights by continuing to display the fake.

"It is an infringement of copyright if a person who did not create a work is declared to be the artist," the court document reads. "What the MMCA is doing is violating the human rights of an individual and defaming a deceased person."

Earlier this week, MMCA officials defended themselves against the allegations that their "Beautiful Woman" was a fake to local media on Tuesday, claiming their wasn't even enough pigment in the painting to be able to verify if the charges were true.

In an open letter to Bartomeu Mari Ribas, Chun's daughter Kim Jeong Hee, a professor at Mongomery College and her husband Muhn Bum Gang asked the acting MMCA director to rethink his position.

"Director Mari Ribas made his position clear on the Lee U-fan forgery case, clarifying that the artist's opinion should be respected. However, he said there is not enough evidence to determine whether Chun's 'Beautiful Woman' is genuine or not (even though Chun said it was not her creation), revealing a serious double standard," the letter read.

"Though it was before his time, he should be responsible and show willingness to take care of the museum's murky past."

In an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily on Thursday, Bae Geum Ja, another attorney on the family's legal team, accused MMCA of a cover up.

"The museum has made contents that have already been discovered as fake look as if they are confirmed as authentic and prevented the real truth from coming to light in the National Assembly," he said.

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