Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Faking It : Elmyr de Hory - The Century's Greatest Art Forger

Fernand Legros

Soon after he was released from the hospital, Elmyr took a friend of his up on an offer to stay at his apartment in Miami. He was not the only houseguest at his friends home. Another man named Fernand Legros also took up temporary residence there after having recently arrived from France. It wasnt long before Elmyr commenced a relationship with the young newcomer that would forever change his life.

Legros, who was in his early thirties, was by origin Greek, French, and Egyptian and, by marrying an American woman, had become a naturalized U.S. citizen. When Legros arrived penniless in America, his wife was nowhere in sight. It was rumored that he married the woman simply to obtain citizenship, which was not difficult to believe because Legros preferred the companionship of men.

As a young man, Legros had moved from Cairo to Paris following World War II and, after several years in Europe, decided to seek his fortune in the U.S. Although he had no money, Legros was fortunate enough to have acquaintances that would house and feed him until he was able to find work. However, Legros had no intention of working menial jobs. He had high aspirations and wanted to achieve the American dream using any means necessary.

Legros was devious, and had little regard for anyone or anything but himself. When he was introduced to Elmyr, he quickly detected his weak nature and gullibility. Legros set out to use the master forger to his own advantage. It didnt take him long to succeed.

Fernand Legros, older
Fernand Legros, older
 

After much persuasion, Legros convinced Elmyr to go into business with him. Legros played on Elmyrs intense dislike for door-to-door sales, and suggested that he do all the dirty work for a 40 percent cut, while Elmyr painted his masterpieces and kept 60 percent.

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