Authenticity and Art Crime

Methods, Materials, and the Market


A work of art is often valued due to its attribution to a specific creator, location, or period. However, all this supposedly meaningful information is off the table when the work is in fact a forgery. Establishing authenticity has clear repercussions, not only art-historically, but also economically, influencing an artwork’s price, and legally because experts and sellers can be held accountable for misattributions and the sale of forgeries. Because of this, museums, auction houses, and international art fairs are increasingly relying on the chemical and technical investigation of art. Currently, the three pillars to establish the authenticity of a work of art are the expert opinion of the art expert (connoisseurship), its line of ownership (the provenance), and material analyses (forensics). In this comprehensive Minor the students will become acquainted with these and more.

For whom?

Open to all students of Leiden University, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam. We especially welcome students who are interested in art and consider a career in heritage or the museum sector.

What will you learn

  • What the term authenticity means and when an artwork is considered "authentic". Also, the broader philosophical issues around the problem of forgeries will be addressed.
  • Current methods and strategies to detect forgeries in the field of both archaeological and historical objects
  • Important techniques such as X-ray, X-ray spectroscopy and diffraction, MA-XRF, MA-XRD imaging, radiography, tomography, gamma spectroscopy and neutron activation analysis.
  • How criminal actors can disrupt the art market, as well as how the market itself can become a multi-dimensional criminogenic space.
  • Study actual contested works of art using modern techniques and establish its repercussions

Course overview

First quarter

  • Leiden Course (5 ECTS): What is Authenticity in Art?
  • Delft Course (5 ECTS):  The Biography of Art Objects: Understanding the Material Life Cycle of an Artwork through Physical an Chemical Analysis
  • Rotterdam course (5 ECTS): Crime and Disruption in the Art Market

Second quarter

  • Leiden Course (10 ECTS): Authenticity and Art Crime: a Challenging Case Study, Leiden part
  • Delft Course: Authenticity and Art Crime: a Challenging Case Study, Delft part


More comprehensive information: and

Register for this minor

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Participating institutions


Miguel Mira