The paintings in Buenos Aires’ newest gallery may look like the work of great artists, but they are actually rip-offs – and the exhibition’s organisers want you to know it.

One of the works doesn’t even look the part – it is supposed to be a masterpiece by the late Argentine painter Antonio Berni, but the main figure’s head is cut off by the frame.

The 40 canvases on display at the exhibition in the Argentine capital were seized in a raid organised by cross-border police agency Interpol on a band of forgers.

Police got hold of 240 works overall, fake versions of works by renowned South American artists, ready to be sold complete with fake certification.

“Some of the copies are clumsily executed, but others are very good,” said the show’s curator Mario Naranjo, an official from the Argentine finance ministry.

He says they are worth US$600,000 (RM2.4mil) overall – a fraction of the market, but an important example for raising awareness of art fraud.

“This kind of crime makes millions of dollars. It is considered the biggest racket in the world after arms and drug-trafficking,” Naranjo said.

A worker of the cultural heritage area of the Ministry of Finance looks at some of the forged paintings.

Some of the works have been faked in minute detail, with the forgers even adding holes to make the canvas look moth-eaten.

Some of the works have been faked in minute detail, with the forgers even adding holes to make the canvas look moth-eaten.

The exhibition runs until mid-May at the finance ministry in Buenos Aires, after which the works will be returned to the court handling the case against the forgers and eventually destroyed. – AFP Relaxnews