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Tips for Collectors: Protecting Yourself from Counterfeit and Fraudulent Art

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

This piece was printed in the 1920’s with a technique that results in paint texture  and was covered with grime.  An art dealer mistook this print as an original painting.

Because of the fraudulent signature, an antique dealer was cheated out of $35,000.

For more interesting information and related stories, visit the following sites! You can also follow us on Facebook under Scott M. Haskins.

One Response to "Tips for Collectors: Protecting Yourself from Counterfeit and Fraudulent Art"
  1. Murk Rdke says:

    I always motivated by your help, views and way of thinking about this saving your stuff idea. We’ve had some floods in our area and your suggestions helped me save important things from getting moldy. I’d rather not have them damaged than have to fight the insurance company. By the way, it seems to me that insurance companies would be VERY interested in your book because it helps to reduce claims… like with me. Have you looked into that? Again, thanks for this nice post.

    – Murk

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