Art Fraud

A DIY-er’s Guide to Authenticating Picassos: THE VOLLARD SUITE, A CASE STUDY

(Please pardon the above ugly fake.) Just about every day an email arrives inquiring about the authenticity of their artwork.  Often the writer is seeking confirmation that what they have is an actual Picasso.  Just as often they’re sure of authenticity but are just seeking valuation or a sale.  I’d say at least 90% of the time, the object in question is a fake or forgery.  Usually the sender is grateful for whatever information I’ve provided, but sometimes it doesn’t go so well.   Like this instance, regarding several photographs, one of which is illustrated above: Q: Can I please get your input on these Picasso drawings. I appreciate your time and reply. A: In my opinion, they are all fakes. Q: Really …

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The Artist, The Electrician, His Wife, His Uncle, and
the Probe into the Presumably Purloined Picassos

By now you’ve probably heard about the treasure trove of presumably purloined Picasso works on paper that walked into Claude Picasso’s office a while back, in the hands of Picasso’s electrician and his wife.  Perhaps you caught the “60 Minutes” special on this story on Sept. 25th.  I had totally missed it, but a number of friends clued me in.  I had been dying with curiosity to see photos of this treasure trove, and I’m sure some were displayed during that segment.  But a dozen of them, a tantalizingly small number but more than had been published before, are now illustrated online, with the following introduction, “When 271 never-before-seen Picassos appeared in 2010 the art world was stunned. Were they …

The Artist, The Electrician, His Wife, His Uncle, and
the Probe into the Presumably Purloined Picassos
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(More) Annals of Apocryphal Art

  Q: Hallo Kobi, I hope you don’t mind me mailing you right out of the blue but I’ve been doing some research and I must say I find your site the most informative, erudite and clear on the subject of Picasso and the Vollard Suite. I am from Ireland but I live in Berlin, Germany and came across an “original hand-signed lithograph” with certificate of authenticity in a reputable antique shop in a very wealthy part of the city. I have not purchased it yet and it is priced at €955.00. It says that it was published by Gerd Hatje in Stuttgart in 1956 and it is entitled ” Bull, horse and reclining woman”.  I appreciate it is not …

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Which one of these does not belong?

Q: I have been reading your blog re Picasso and his prints. You say that Picasso didn’t use pochoir, but I have read on other websites that he actually made 200 of them.  Who is correct?  -Sue G A: I can see why you would find this confusing, especially because that fancy French term sounds so very artsy.  But pochoir (French for “stencil”) is a reproductive technique, so of course Picasso didn’t  use it to create art. Picasso made original art. Other people reproduced some of his artworks using the pochoir technique, and at times he signed these reproductions by hand—for a fee.  Although these are by no means original artworks, they do have decorative value (though nothing like the …

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Bazinga!

  A couple of days ago we were offered Garçon à la Pipe, the Rose Period oil which, if you don’t know, sold for $104.1 in 2004, at the time the highest-priced object ever sold at auction.  (Since this writing, we have been offered this very painting multiple times, but always by dubious sources.). Usually I just round-file such emails, but this time on a lark I decided to indulge the sender. Here’s an exact transcript of the ensuing correspondence, apart from the redacted vendor’s name: Dear Mr Ledor:  We represent some owners of Master Pieces of the most relevant contemporary artist. Now we have the opportunity of offer you one of the most important Fine Arts of Picasso directly for you.  If you have …

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Anatomy of an Art Fraud on eBay

In view of the chap who just pled guilty to selling fake Picassos on eBay (see, for example, yesterday’s NY Times online article, “Chicago Man Admits He Sold Bogus Picassos on eBay”, which begins as follows, “A suburban Chicago man pleaded guilty Tuesday to swindling at least 250 people out of more than $1 million through the sale of counterfeit prints advertised as the work of Pablo Picasso and other major contemporary artists”), I thought I’d post an exchange I had with another eBay seller some time ago, as follows, beginning with the email that first drew me in.  (This is a long exchange rife with more detail than you might wish.  But, if you don’t mind my saying so, …

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THE DOCTORS, THE DENTISTS, & THE DIRTY DEALS: PiCostco, A Slight Return

Last week my six-year-old came home from school loaded up with books from the school book fair but nonetheless wanting to Amazon another, How to Read People’s Minds.  Now, among other considerations, I try to evaluate my kids’ “needs” (they always classify their wants as such) through the prism of educational merit.  From that perspective, this request was an easy one to accept.   Much of one’s success in life is supposed to be related to EQ (emotional intelligence), of which understanding other people plays a large part.  (Dubya is supposed to have had it in spades, though, personally, I’d rather have a beer with Barack any day of the week.  And, anyway, if I were imbibing with Dubya, I’d request …

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Reprints

Question: While I ponder my next purchase: the Picasso Museum has the Vollard plates, right? So why don’t they make a new edition? -Pam L.

A Gumshoe on Costco’s Tail

The NY Times today ran an update to the fake Picassos at Costco caper (note my earlier blog dated March 16, 2006, for the full story), which reported that the third and final Picasso which Costco had put up for sale (it sold two and withdrew one) was also deemed a fake by Maya Picasso. Today’s story contained the following hilarious footnote about Jim Tutwiler, the art dealer who had supplied Costco with the fakes: “Mr. Tutwiler refused to comment about Dr. Zhang’s drawing, saying he had been asked by Costco not to speak about the issue. But he did say that he had hired a private detective to investigate Ms. Widmaier-Picasso. In an e-mail message to Dr. Zhang in …

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Fake Picassos at Costco (Reported in the NY Times)

The following article was brought to my attention by Richard with an attached message, “for your amusement”: It’s Costco, but Is It Picasso? Art Sale in Doubt By CAROL KINO From diamonds to dog food to Dom Pérignon Champagne, Costco is known as an astute marketer of high and low. Recently, it even ventured into the rarefied world of Picasso, selling a crayon drawing at its Web site for a bargain $39,999.99. The buyer, Louis Knickerbocker, a meat distributor from Newport Beach, Calif., had never fancied himself a big-league collector. But as he was cruising to work in his sport utility vehicle one day, a radio news report about the Costco offering roused him to action. Mr. Knickerbocker, 39, quickly …

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