10 Famous Fake Antiques and the Suckers Who Bought Them

The Brewster Chair
The Brewster chair, had it been authentic, would have been of historical significance because of the status in history of William Brewster, whose signature appears on the “Mayflower Compact” -- the first constitution written in America. © Three Lions/Getty Images

In 1970, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. acquired a chair thought to be from William Brewster, one of the men who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1620.

But as it turns out, the chair wasn't made in the 1600s. It was made in 1969 by an artist named Armand LaMontagne, who built and aged the chair in his workshop. The Great Brewster Chair, LaMontagne nicknamed it, is made from green oak (which warps when the wood dries out) and assembled with the same style of wooden pins used during the period. But the genesis of the chair came from spite after a run-in with an antiques dealer who questioned LaMontagne's background, not out of 17th-century practicalities.

As the story goes, LaMontagne gave away the forgery, and for years kept his creation a secret. In 1975, he heard the Henry Ford Museum had purchased his chair for $9,000, believing it was authentic to the New England period [source: Reif]. By 1977, the word was out; the chair was a fake, confirmed with X-rays to have been made with modern tools.

The Henry Ford Museum continues to keep and display the chair, but as an educational tool rather than an antique.