It was a boon to the Chinese art market when a nude figure credited to the renowned Xu Beihong sold for $11 million at an auction last June, but that boost looks to be in for some steep deflation as artists from the nation's Central Academy of Fine Arts now say one of them painted the woman in a class project in 1983, about 30 years after Xu died. The students, who attended the university together in Beijing, said in an open letter online that they recognized the woman in the painting as the model who posed for them in class nearly 20 years ago. And they say other paintings from the class prove it, according to Agence France-Presse:
"L's hairstyle is common to the 1980s, her figure is also very unique... and left a deep impression on students," the letter states.
"For Mr. Xu Beihong's painting to share exactly the same lining colour, model standing posture, body features, hairstyle, and facial features as our paintings, this is impossible."
Xu is better known for his paintings of horses and birds. According to AFP, one of his works, called Galloping Horse, sold for 17 million yuan (about $2.6 million) last November. Beijing Jiuge International Auction Company, which sold the $11 million painting known as The Body of Miss Jiang Biwei, hasn't commented on the artists' claim. Just this year, China emerged as the world's largest art market, according to artinfo.com.