One makes an exact carbon-copy (perfect copy, in such a way that one will never be able to tell the difference between an original and a copy. For arguments sake, lets say through witchcraft) of (say) a work of art and destroys the original.

He then proceeds to sell this copy for the cost of an original work of art (say $1,000,000).

If he would have informed the buyer that this was just a copy, he would have only been able to make (for example) $5,000.

Does he have to (between him and Hashem, as nobody can prove it to be a forgery) pay back the difference? (He probably isn't allowed to misrepresent his work in the first place, but ex-post-facto is he allowed to keep the money)?

On one hand, inherently the painting isn't worth nearly as much as the selling-price, yet on the other hand it is worth that amount on the open market.

Based on comments from Is there any issue except for Dina Dmalchusa in counterfeiting money?


Isur of Genevat Daat is certainly present here (see Gemara Hullin 93b-94a, Rambam Hilchot Mechira 18, Shulhan Aruch Hoshen Mishpat 228). Whether this is Isur from the Torah or not is a totally different story. Here is a good list of Mare Mekemot whether it is Asur from the Torah or from Rabanan.

  • 1
    Can I upvote this answer more than once?! – Seth J Dec 9 '11 at 2:40
  • The question was if Bdieved you have to return the money? – Shmuel Brin Dec 9 '11 at 6:06
  • I thought that was a given. – Hacham Gabriel Dec 9 '11 at 13:32

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