Is the movie The Last Vermeer (2020) based on a true story?

Emily Rodriguez Emily Rodriguez Jul 17, 2023 · 3 mins read
Is the movie The Last Vermeer (2020) based on a true story?
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Yes, the movie “The Last Vermeer” (2020) is based on a true story. It revolves around the life of Han van Meegeren, a Dutch artist and art forger, who is accused of collaborating with the Nazis during World War II. The film depicts the events surrounding van Meegeren’s trial and the discovery of a Vermeer painting that he forged.

What is the true story behind the movie The Last Vermeer (2020)?

The Last Vermeer (2020) is a historical drama film directed by Dan Friedkin and based on the book “The Man Who Made Vermeers” by Jonathan Lopez. It tells the true story of Han van Meegeren, a Dutch art forger, and the investigation surrounding his famous forgery of a Vermeer painting during World War II.

In the film, Captain Joseph Piller, a Dutch resistance fighter turned Allied investigator, is assigned to recover stolen art from the Nazis. During his investigation, Piller uncovers evidence that suggests a Vermeer painting called “Christ and the Adulteress” may be a forgery by van Meegeren. Initially skeptical, Piller delves deeper into the story and becomes convinced of van Meegeren’s guilt.

The true story of Han van Meegeren is as follows: During the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, many Dutch artworks were stolen or confiscated by the Nazis. However, some art experts and curators collaborated with the occupiers and willingly surrendered valuable Dutch art. Van Meegeren was initially arrested for collaborating with the Nazis and assisting in the illegal sale of Dutch masterpieces.

In a surprising turn of events, van Meegeren revealed that the art he had sold was not an original Vermeer but rather his own forgery. This revelation shocked the art world and raised questions about the authenticity of other famous artworks. Van Meegeren’s trial became a sensation, attracting both national and international attention.

He was charged with forgery, but his defense hinged on the argument that he had created forgeries to expose the corrupt art establishment that had collaborated with the Nazis. Van Meegeren aimed to prove that the experts had been fooled by his imitations, which were supposedly inferior to Vermeer’s originals.

To support his claim, van Meegeren painted during his trial, completing a new forgery of a Vermeer painting in front of witnesses. The painting was indeed considered to be a Vermeer by art experts. This demonstration helped van Meegeren avoid a sentence for collaboration and instead face charges for forgery.

Ultimately, the court found van Meegeren guilty of forgery but significantly reduced his sentence due to the public’s perception of him as an anti-Nazi hero. After being sentenced, van Meegeren died of a heart attack in 1947 before serving his full term.

The Last Vermeer dramatizes these events, adding fictional elements and characters to enhance the narrative. While the film offers a glimpse into this remarkable story, it does take some liberties for the sake of storytelling and entertainment.

Are there any books about the true story behind the movie The Last Vermeer (2020)?

Yes, there is a book titled “The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren” by Jonathan Lopez. This book provides the true story behind the events depicted in the movie “The Last Vermeer” (2020). It explores the life of Dutch artist Han van Meegeren, his forgeries of Vermeer’s paintings during World War II, and the subsequent trial that revealed his deceptions.

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Emily Rodriguez
Written by Emily Rodriguez
Making waves wherever I go