Real versus Fake?
Distinguishing a genuine work of art from a counterfeit wannabe stands at the base of every collector’s worry. “Fakes” are not always an effort to deceive. However, most “fakes” are fraudulent. Here are a few different scenarios to consider:
- An artist’s estate can ethically add an artist’s signature to a piece post mortem in an effort to identify the estate and the artist on artwork that was unsigned originally.
- An unscrupulous art dealer can add a signature to make the artwork more valuable. Even the counterfeit signature of an unknown name can make the artwork more valuable than an unsigned painting.
- A “new” painting can be antiqued to look old.
- An old painting can be restored ineptly in order to mask or disguise repairs that it changes the nature of the artwork and the art is no longer an “original.”
- Old artwork, now dirty, can be mistaken for something it is not. This can be an honest mistake by a collector or dealer.
Here are two interesting examples that recently came into the lab:
- An art gallery bought a print that they believed was an original and filthy landscape painting. The surface of the print was textured and somewhat masked by the layer of discolored grime, which gave the appearance of paint. However the image was a serigraph applied through a screening process, which is a printing process common since the 1920’s.
- Another old painting from the 1920’s arrived in our lab for examination. The signature in the lower left hand corner was quickly identified as fraudulent. Unfortunately, this California landscape lost the client $35,000! Furthermore, there was no recourse from returning it.
FACL offers expertise and analysis to assist in your evaluation processes as a collector. Also, we work closely with a expert appraiser.
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