To the Islands by Australian artist Noel Wood. Picture: Supplied
To the Islands by Australian artist Noel Wood. Picture: Supplied

Daughter spots fakes as art set for auction

POLICE have been called in after the Queensland daughter of a legendary Australian painter uncovered more than a dozen fakes for sale at an interstate auction.

The work of North Queensland pioneer painter Noel Wood was to be sold for thousands of dollars at a South Yarra auction house about 11.30am yesterday.

But it was called off after Wood's 80-year-old daughter Ann Grocott saw images of the fake paintings and alerted the auction house.

Police are now involved and have determined at least 16 of the works were frauds, Mrs Grocott told The Courier-Mail.

"There were 59 works. I don't know if all of them were fake but 16 absolutely were," she said.

"It seems to me perhaps half of them were fakes. Somebody has made it their business - male or female - to paint all of Noel's works".

It's understood an art expert also contacted the auction house to warn them that two of the pieces were copies of works he owned.

Some of the fakes that were on sale were copies of originals that are currently hanging on display in public galleries, Mrs Grocott said.

She said the situation was "incredibly strange" and laughed at the thought of someone going to so much length to copy her father's esteemed pieces.

"It's the strangest thing. It's strange to me that the auction house accepted 59 works because usually you'd be lucky to get two (authentic works)," she said.

According to Ms Grocott, the colours in the paintings were different to those used by her late father.

She said it appeared someone "much younger" had applied their brush to the canvas in an attempt to imitate Wood.

A friend of Mrs Grocott's contacted her after their daughter attended the auction house earlier this week and noticed the works weren't Wood's.

"She knew Noel's works and she contacted her mother and sent photographs of what they were going to auction," Mrs Grocott said.

"The mother was absolutely certain that they weren't Noel's - or some of them weren't Noel's - and she sent those pictures to me and I knew that she was right.

"Where did he get all of those photographs to copy Noel's work? It's weird. Who was he? Who knows?"

Victoria Police are investigating.