Friday, 23 May 2014

Buying  fraudulent  paintings                 

 Anyone, no matter whether or not the buyer is a novice or an art dealer or a person representing a museum, can be fooled by a seller of fraudulent art. Some of the phony paintings are so close to resembling the original paintings, it is almost impossible to differentiate between them. And on many times, even the experts have been fooled.

 A painting titled A City on a Rock which was long attributed to Goya, is now thought to have been painted by the 19th century forger, Eugenic Lucas. Elements of the painting appear to have been copied from autographed works by Goya, and the painting is therefore classified as a pastiche (a work of visual art, that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists.)

Since Goya`s paintings are worth tens of millions of dollars, anyone being offered the opportunity to purchase A City on a Rock for as little as half a million dollars would jump at the opportunity if they really believed it was the original of Goya`s painting. Unfortunately, many copies of that painting are being sold but most people are aware that the copies are fakes. Unfortunately, no one knows where the original painting is. It would be really funny if someone selling what they believed was a fake was in fact the original painting of A City on a Rock.

There was a watercolour drawing on paper that supposedly replicated The Bridges at Asnieres by van Gogh which was presented as part of an antique letter. The paining depicts a bridge over a river, painted in a loose style and is inscribed and signed with the name of Vincent. Incidentally, many artists sign only their first names. I drew in chalk and later in painted a portrait picture of a child, his father, grandfather and great grandfather and signed the picture with only my first name.  

The paper on which the watercolour is painted is folded several times to form the shape of an envelope as an antique letter would have been sent in the time Goya was painting and cleverly bears an address and post mark inferring that this letter was posted to the recipient, 'Paul Gaugin,' in Paris who was a great friend of Van Gogh. This fake letter is actually a facsimile copied by someone else of an original known to have been painted by Vincent Van Gogh in the year 1887.    
International art authentication experts, the Freemanart Consultancy with bases in the USA, Canada, the UK, Italy, France, Spain and Germany, examine thousands of works of art each year, including a myriad of limited edition prints and naturally, all are purportedly originals, printed by and of course hand signed by the artist himself. Many of them are later determined to be fakes. 
It has to be said that in many cases, the ink of the print itself has hardly had time to dry at the time when the print is bought by an unknowing investor who has been duped by the seller. And having certificates of authenticity attached to the back of the prints is no guarantee that the prints have the artist’s original signature on them. Incidentally, signatures just below the prints are always signed with a pencil. That way, the buyer knows that the signature isn’t printed. Of course, it is easy to forge a signature. 

Fake Dali, Miro, Chagall and Picasso limited edition prints come in all shapes and guises and are in most cases claimed as being authentic and legitimate Dali's and Picasso's by believable, flowery certificates of authenticity, presented to you by highly qualified individuals who are far more qualified in cleverly deceiving you than you think. 

In one particular case, the Certificate of Authenticity claimed the authenticity of a Salvador Dali art print purchased by an unsuspecting buyer who is a highly regarded American medical doctor who invested heavily in works of art purportedly by Dali, Chagall and Miro back in the 1980's.  

Those so called authentic Salvador Dali limited edition prints were purchased from an art investment company that the victim believed were both reputable and responsible (The art investment company in question hailed from Quebec) Clearly, they were neither reputable nor responsible art advisors. They were however responsible for defrauding hundreds of unknowing individuals out of countless thousands of dollars and got away with it.

Bogus limited edition prints, if bought at a presentation are often seemingly supported in an ambiguous way. They may be offered on board a principal Caribbean holiday cruise line or a major hotel chain where these 'investment opportunity presentations' often take place. The cruise lines and the hotel people have no idea that fakes are being sold. 

Prints may also be sold through what is seemingly a 'reputable gallery' or through a convincing and promising mail order firm. As you can see, it is easy to see how thousands of highly intelligent people made and still persist in making gigantic errors of judgments and in the process lose millions between them to these scams.

Works of art still appear regularly at auctions, both on line and through auction houses in major cities. Just because a work of art is sold at a reputable auction house doesn’t mean that the art of work is authentic. Even the auction house can be fooled. But if the work of art you purchased from an auction house or a reputable dealer is a fake, they will pay you back what you paid for the work of art. That is why you should make sure that the auction house or art dealer has a long and excellent reputation.  

What follows are kinds of paintings that are sold.

Abstract paintings are where an artist either exaggerates or simplifies the form of the subject to attach emotion or other meaning to it.

Art deco paintings are forms of abstract art, celebrates technical advances of the 1920s and 1930s. Art deco paintings have a slick, metallic look, include jarring angles, and use colors of machinery. 

Gouache watercolors are types of watercolors that include white pigments that make them thicker and more opaque than other watercolors. 

Impressionist paintings are when during the era of the late 19th century, painters such as Monet and Renoir altered their strokes to approximate the effects of changes in lighting on a subject. Impressionism remains a popular style for modern-day painters, collectors, and art enthusiasts. 

Pop art depicts contemporary, common objects in a way that makes a statement about modern culture. The pop art movement is most often associated with Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. 

Realist paintings portray faithful and realistic depictions of subjects, arising from the idea that any subject in and of itself is worthy of being painted.

Surreal paintings which are  fantastic approaches to art, features objects that look or act unnaturally or are depicted together unexpectedly, as in a dream.

All of these kinds of paintings have been passed off as originals when in fact they were fakes. 

How a fake is determined

1.               Do your homework. Research the piece, know the artist's work, look at many of his pieces, compare signatures and photograph close-ups of the signature.  
2.              Visit museums study the paintings. If you ask to see the back of a painting, the staff may show you. Examine the feel and look of old art works. Study the depth and number of layers of paint needed to achieve the color desired by the artist.  
3.              Examine the painting itself for dirt and dust that may have accumulated through the ages, and look at the texture of the brush strokes and also look at the colour to see if it faded since if it has, it may very well be the original. Also, it the canvas has been stapled to the frame of a painting that is alleged to have been painted sometime prior to the 1900s, you know that something is wrong.                                                                              
4.               Look at the painting or varnishing of the wooden frame  to determine whether the wood is old. Determine how the frame is put together, considering what kind of nails and wires to hang the picture are used.                    

5.                Look for bristles if the seller tells you that it was painted more than 100 years earlier. Painted copies sometimes will have hairs from the cheap paint brush still in the paint on the canvas.  
6.              When you do get your hands on the painting, smell it. It takes oil a while to dry and years to completely lose the smell of oil. If you can smell the oil in the paint, you know that it was painted recently.                                          

7.               Get the work appraised. If it is something you really are prepared to pay a great deal of money to obtain the painting, you need a third party to independently review it—someone who is an authority on paintings. How do you know if the appraiser is reliable? He or she should have a certificate from one or more of the professional associations of art appraisers, have a history of work with the particular artist or medium or period, and preferably not be a dealer or broker of art himself. Research the market history of the artist.

8.              Note that some dealers, perhaps including those on cruise ships, may attempt to confuse the buyer with sizes and periods, even mediums to sell a lesser piece at inflated prices. Look for signatures and numbers. For prints they must be signed, and numbered.   

9.              Many pieces will have gallery stickers or information written on the back. Research that gallery to learn whether it ever existed. Look for signs of wear. There should be some signs of wear, on the frame, even the canvas sometimes. Wooden edges not quite as sharp after 50, 100 years, and drier.            

10.           Research the artist for reputation. Some artists are known to have signed blank papers, which later have prints drawn on/from them, which means that the artists did not even supervise the authentication of their paintings. These paintings would be of significantly lesser value. Salvador Dali was known to have done this so that unlimited copies of his work could be supposedly authenticated by him.
                                                                                                                                            11. Watch for a scam where the print is not numbered but another document is. This is meaningless as any signed representing one painting can be used in place of the real item. 

Before I finish this article, I want to tell you an interesting story about one of the most famous forgers of art in history.  He was a Dutchman and his name was Han van Meegeren

During World War II, wealthy Dutchmen, wanting to prevent a sellout of Dutch art to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, avidly bought van Meegeren’s forgeries. Nevertheless, a falsified “Vermeer” ended up in the possession of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring. Following the war, the forgery was discovered in Göring’s possession, and van Meegeren was arrested on May 29, 1945 as a collaborator, as officials believed that he had sold Dutch cultural property to the Nazis. This would have been an act of treason, the punishment for which was death, so van Meegeren fearfully confessed to the forgery. He wasn’t believed

Thereupon, he decided to prove his talent to the critics by forging paintings of some of the world’s most famous artists, including Johannes Vermeer. He so well replicated the styles and colours of the artists that the best art critics and experts of the time regarded his paintings as if they were genuine.  

His most successful forgery was Supper at Emmaus, created in 1937 while he was living in the south of France. This painting was hailed by some of the world’s foremost art experts as the finest Vermeer they had ever seen.

On November 12, 1947, after a brief but highly publicized trial, he was convicted of falsification and fraud charges, and was sentenced to a modest punishment of one year in prison. He never served his sentence, because before he could be incarcerated, he suffered a heart attack and died on December 30, 1947. It is estimated that van Meegeren duped buyers, including the government of the Netherlands, out of the equivalent of more than thirty million dollars in today’s money. 

I hope you have enjoyed this article. Remember that paintings are created so that people can enjoy them. If you think you can enjoy having an expensive painting in your home, by all means buy it.  But if you are buying a so-called original painting as an investment, be wary as it may be one of hundreds of similar originals being sold by crooked salesmen.

If you end up buying one of my paintings, look for my thumb print at the lower right-hand corner.  If it isn’t there, then it is not an original. If there is a thumb print in that corner, it could be someone else’s thumb print. Forgers will do anything to sell you a fake original painting.  In any case, I doubt that any of my paintings will be forged—copied perhaps but definitely not forged as I hardly think they are worth the trouble—after all, I was never one of the masters.                     

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