The Plough Estimated Profits

On this page, an approximation will be made of the profits Cor van L. allegedly made from his forgeries. The reason for this approximation is to show that the illicit profits made from forgeries amount to a significant sum. This not only shows how profitable creating The Plough forgeries has been, but also what economic damages were caused due to the illicit profits.

For the estimation the following formula has been used:

Number of Known Forged Paintings x Average Price The Plough Works = Estimated Profits

440 x € 10.000  = € 4.400.000

To start, we’ll look at the number of known forged paintings from 1992 onwards, as this was the year the auction houses filed charges against Van L., and thus the year that Van L. was identified as the alleged forger of works of The Plough. After 1992, the bulk of known forgeries comes from the Zwaneveld collection, which consisted of 550 paintings. Renée Smithuis, responsible for the collection’s taxation in 1995, estimated that at least 80% of the works were forgeries. This amounts to a total of
440 (0.8 x 550) identified forgeries. Although the total number of forgeries produced most likely exceeds this number (440) – as forgeries are still being sold through Ebay/ Marktplaats, smaller galleries, and auction houses – this is the number of forgeries that have certifiably been identified as such.

The average price of The Plough works after 1992 is roughly € 10.000, as can be seen on the Price-index page.

The formula then yields the following result: 440 x € 10.000 = € 4.400.000. The estimated profits of the forged The Plough works thus exceed 4 million euro. This is a conservative estimate, since Van L. probably created and sold forgeries before 1992. Plus, this number doesn’t include suspected yet unidentified forgeries. The actual profits probably exceed the estimated profits significantly, but more than 4 million euro is still a sizeable amount, especially considering the fact that these profits probably went directly into the pocket of Van L. Again we see significant financial damages as a result of the alleged forgery practices of Van L.

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