CHICAGO - A half-man, half-goat ceramic figure supposedly sculpted by 19th-century French artist Paul Gauguin has delighted aficionados visiting the Art Institute of Chicago for a decade, but now the museum says

The Faun

is a fake.

"No one could think of any other instance in which anything like this happened here," Erin Hogan, the institute's director of public affairs, told the Chicago Tribune for a story posted Tuesday on its Web site.

A private dealer bought the piece at Sotheby's in 1994, and the Art Institute purchased it from the dealer three years later. Hogan declined to reveal the purchase price and said the Art Institute was talking with Sotheby's and the private dealer about compensation.

The museum said the sculpture is among scores of forgeries produced by Britain's Greenhalgh family. A British judge sentenced Shaun Greenhalgh, 47, to four years and eight months in prison last month. His mother, Olive, 83, received a suspended term of 12 months, and his father, George, 84, was to be sentenced later.

Shaun Greenhalgh created the fakes, while his parents handled most of the sales. All three pleaded guilty earlier this year to defrauding art institutions and other buyers over 17 years.