Prosecutors sided with local art appraisers Monday to rebut an evaluation by their French counterparts that "Beautiful Woman" by one of South Korea's most renowned artists is probably a forgery.
The artwork by Chun Kyung-ja (1924-2015) has been embroiled in a forgery row since the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) displayed it in 1991.
In an unusual turn of events, Chun insisted the painting was a fake, while the museum and other experts assessed it to be genuine. She retired from painting in protest and went to live with her daughter in the United States. "Parents can recognize their children. That is not my painting," she said at the time.
After Chun's death in 2015, her family led by Sumita Kim, the second daughter, asked MMCA to scrap the artwork in question and sued five people, including MMCA officials.
In November, French researchers in Lumiere Technology in Paris, chosen by Kim, concluded that Chun's work was a fake. Lumiere Technology was given access to the Mona Lisa in 2004 by the Louvre and found an image of a portrait underneath it using reflective light technology.
After consulting South Korean art appraisers and using modern equipment for forensic science, state prosecutors said Monday that "Beautiful Woman" was genuine. They decided not to bring charges against the five sued by Kim.
Chun was best known for her paintings of female figures and flowers using vivid primary colors that broke with traditional South Korean styles.
From the late 1970s onwards, she focused on foreign landscapes and portraits of people she encountered on her travels to the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa. Her works have sold at auction for up to one million dollars.