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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

Seen on the web about "art authentication", errors to avoid. part 1

Updated: Jul 2, 2018

I read the following about art authenticity:

A formal certificate of authenticity is not necessarily required to prove a work of art is genuine. Any valid receipt, bill of sale or proof of purchase either directly from the artist or from a confirmed and established dealer, reseller, publisher, representative or agent of the artist will do.

In my opinion if you buy a Picasso from a gallery on 5Th Avenue in new York, this will never be a sufficient condition to certify the authenticity of the painting. We saw several galleries from NY and worldwide with impeccable reputation selling fakes, copies lately.

An appraisal from a recognized authority or expert on the artist which includes a statement or guarantee of authenticity is also acceptable.

Who’s going to buy a Picasso with a certificate from my own company with a statement that the painting is authentic! To start I will never, never give an appraisal for a painting and warrant a certificate of authenticity for a painting, NEVER! Unless I have the confirmation of the authenticity made by the sole recognized authenticator, and not older than 6 months. First of all, the financial responsibility and the eventual punitive damages I will occur if by any hazard I am wrong. Secondly, every appraiser knows that he can’t give a certificate of authenticity unless he received a certificate of authenticity from the sole recognized universal expert for the mentioned artist. To clarify my statement: A gallery who bought a Renoir in the 1990’s with a C.O.A. from the expert , sold the painting a year later with a copy of the C.O.A. In 2000, the gallery let make an exact copy of the original painting ( which he may have let made at the time he bought the original painting) and sold the painting with the original C.O.A..

Website Artbusiness is definitely an interesting website but I advise anyone who wants to buy an important painting: 1/ request an updated C.O.A. ( not older than 6 months ) by the sole recognized expert for the artist 2/ check with an expert you trust, to see if the painting is really what is described on the C.O.A., compare the photos and even send a photo of the painting you buy front and back to the sole recognized expert. If the painting is a copy, he will alert you immediately about the fraud since he knows where the original is. 3/ never buy an important painting “attributed to” as an original by the artist. This mention shows that there is a doubt about the authenticity. Most merchants adding this on their bill of sale to avoid to be sued.

About another website for art authentication

We can see that a respected writer of several books, about Warhol, pre-historic animals, still classified 794,000 in Amazon is also a painter himself. We see on his web site that he offers to make C.O.A. for Warhol. Basquiat, and Haring! Nothing less. I have no doubt that Mr. X will analyze in depth all the elements available for an artwork by Warhol, Basquiat or Haring. I am sure that he will use all the possible verifications possible to make his assessment.

Where I am suspicious is when he writes that his C.O.A. will be accepted by auction houses! We all know by now that the foundation Warhol , Basquiat, Haring no longer accept to make C.O.A. for their artist.


Let’s make a comparison with Amedeo Modigliani .

Several very respected and specialist of the work of Modigliani who made catalogue raisonne of his work , like Lantheman, Pfannstiel, Restellini, Parisot . Parisot by example organized several exhibitions of Modigliani’s work , in Japan, France, Italy etc. Lantheman, Pfannstiel made catalogue raisonne for the artist.

So these experts are not simply some guys who wrote an article or a book about Modigliani. They know through and through the art of Modigliani. Is Sotheby’s and Christie’s accepting their C.O.A.? NO They want only the paintings by Modigliani published in the catalogue made by Ceroni ! and only him. The C.O.A. made by the other “big experts” of Modigliani work are not accepted.

With all respect due to Mr. X, I regret to say that what he writes on his website about the C.O.A. he makes for Warhol, Basquiat, Haring will be accepted by auctions houses, (and I consider Christie’s and Sotheby’s a major auction house where someone will want to see his Warhol, or Haring) is UNTRUE.

Only paintings with a complete provenance detailed may have an extremely little chance to be accepted for auction by the major houses, since the foundation confirmed it stopped to make C.O.A. Only paintings with a C.O.A. from the foundations will be accepted in auctions, but not only also the paintings that have an undisputed provenance and verifiable elements in the provenance.

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