The country's national heritage collector, the Alexander Turnbull Library bought a fake Lindauer painting, despite being warned by an expert that is was likely to be a forgery.
In 2013 the Turnbull Library paid $75,000 at an auction for the portrait of a Maori man named as as Hoani or Hamiora Maioha, and signed G.Lindauer.
Before making the purchase, the library got the advice of colonial art expert Roger Blackley of Victoria University, who told them it was obviously not genuine. "I said it looks incredibly strange and is a fake".
But the Turnbull curator decided to discount Mr Blackley's advice, and instead get the views of its in-house experts, who believed it was a genuine Lindauer, and the purchase went ahead.
Gottfried Lindauer (1839-1926) was New Zealand's best-known painter of Maori subjects in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - known for the accuracy of his portraits - which is why they are sought after historical records.
The library put the portrait in its catalogue and also provided an image of it to the New Zealand Listener in 2014 for a major article on New Zealand portraiture.
However, earlier this year Auckland Art gallery conservator, Sarah Hillary analysed the painting as part of her preparation for a book on Lindauer. Her forensic study indicated that there was no way the work could be a Lindauer as it contained titanium dioxide, which was not available as an artist's pigment when Lindauer was painting. She also pointed out that the brushwork was quite rough compared with the careful brushwork of Lindauer.
Chief librarian for the Alexander Turnbull Library, Chris Szekely said the revelation was particularly disappointing for the library, and the police had been informed.
"We backed our own judgement in the face of an assessment from an external expert. Art historian Roger Blackley had commented to us on the painting's strange appearance. We listened to his views but proceeded with the auction. Differing opinions are not uncommon in these matters, and in this instance we went with the library's in-house expertise. It is now evident that we were wrong."
Chris Szekely and Sarah Hillary spoke with Nine to Noon.