Photos: Nadar, Public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsJoe deSousa, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Auguste Rodin is one of the most-faked artists of all time. Over the years, several sly characters have profited greatly from ripping off his works.

Guy Hain of France was one of them. His prolific scam spanned nearly three decades and netted him millions of dollars before it ultimately went up in flames.

It all started in the early 1960s when Hain purchased the molds Rodin used to cast some of his most famous sculptures. Hain used these same molds to create a bunch of knock-offs, and then leveraged his wit and charm to convince deep-pocketed art collectors that they were original works.

Hain’s scam finally caught up to him in the early 1990s. French authorities raided his foundries and found thousands of replica bronze sculptures by hundreds of different artists. Hain was sent to prison, and his faux sculptures were sent to auction. Some pieces sold for as low as $21 — and others failed to sell altogether. 

From Sculptures to Sketches

While Rodin is best known for his sculptures, he also produced more than 10,000 sketches and paintings in his lifetime. Perhaps his most well-known works in this realm are sketches of Cambodian dancers he produced in the early 1900s. 

Just like his most famous sculptures, these pieces also fell victim to a fraudster. This time, it was a gentleman named Ernest Durig.

Durig was a Swiss artist who claimed to be Rodin’s protégée. He branded himself as “Rodin’s last pupil” and leveraged this alleged connection into a successful career where he sculpted busts of high-profile figures like George Washington, Harry S. Truman, and Benito Mussolini.  

But Durig’s entire identity was built on lies. Aside from one photograph, there is no proof that he and Rodin ever spent a substantial amount of time together. But perhaps the most egregious scam he pulled was claiming that Rodin gifted him a stack of Cambodian dancer sketches back in 1911.

For decades, Durig hocked these sketches for healthy sums of money to unsuspecting collectors and dealers, who were shocked to later learn that Durig drew the dancers himself and forged Rodin’s signature at the bottom.

When Durig died in 1962, a stash of 150 unsold dancers remained in his possession.

Back to blog


No need to pay a fortune or put them in a museum.

Want your own Rodan reproduction?