But Nguyen Thanh Chuong, a prominent artist himself, was stunned by what he saw.
Hanging on the wall was a painting he recognized as his own, a Cubist-inspired portrait he did in the early 1970s.
But instead of his name, the canvas bore the signature of one of Vietnam’s best-known artists, Ta Ty, and the date 1952. “I could not believe my eyes,” he said. “It made my hair stand on end.”
Mr. Chuong’s discovery set off a scandal that has rocked the Vietnam art world and highlighted an embarrassing truth: The Vietnamese art market, where prices of prewar paintings have recently broken the million-dollar mark, is rife with fraud.