The question of authenticity is one of the most fascinating aspects of how we approach art. We value a work as much for the means as we do the ends. A lesser Picaso by the artist himself, for instance, will always be more valuable than a more impressive forgery. Is the implication, then, that the artist imbues their work with some inimitable something that a forger is simply incapable of producing? If that's the fact, then the worth of a painting is as, if not more related to this something than the work itself.
María Gainza's second novel Portrait of an Unknown Lady is a treasure for anyone with a fascination with this space where commerce, art, and woo woo intersect. An unnamed Argetenian art critic relates her apprenticeship with a preeminent art authenticator. When this grande dame of the art world reveals that for years she's been responsible for authenticating known forgeries, the past opens up to reveal to the narrator the vibrant bohemian and monied world of Argentina in the 60s. On the periphery of these circles is the master forger, Renée, particularly famous for her counterfeits of the Austrian-Argentine artist Mariette Lydis.