Ways To Avoid Fake Art On The Internet

by Jeffrey Hauser - Date: 2007-03-26 - Word Count: 604 Share This!

I've been collecting artwork since the mid-1970's. Back then, you went to a gallery or auction and could see or touch the pieces. The dealer would answer your questions in person and you could view the documents or other certificates of authenticity. Today, all that has changed with the advent of the Internet. Auction sites have listings posted for almost every type of artwork imaginable. Ebay is the main avenue for selling art and therefore the target of most of the fraudulent dealers. I've seen several types of misrepresentation and feel I need to explain to the laymen what to watch for.

Let's start with the obvious. If you see a Picasso that's listed for a few dollars and the dealer claims that it has an original signature, beware. Picasso's signature alone fetches thousands of dollars. In his later years, people he dealt with would not cash his checks because the signature was worth more than the products or services purchased. This is true for artists such as Miro, Chagall and others. If you come across a hand-signed Rembrandt print, back off completely. Rembrandt never pencil-signed his etchings as they were signed in the original etching plate. Later, Amand Durand reproduced Rembrandt's etchings in the late 1800's, but even he didn't sign his prints.

Speaking of signatures, several online dealers have prints for sale that are hand-signed. You get to see the Chagall signature in a variety of crayon colors. Yes, they are hand-signed, but obviously not by the artist. Of course this is never stated and you, the buyer, just assumed that the signature was from the artist. And there is no COA or certificate of authenticity anyway. So, a word about documentation or authentication. It's pretty easy to print up anything on a word program and even create an official-looking seal. So that can easily be fakes as well. So, how do you protect yourself from fraud? I would do the following before buying art from anyone on the Internet:

Look at the way the title and description is worded. Are there spelling mistakes that were made on purpose, such as "Chagal or Picaso" prints for sale?Who is the seller? An art dealer or a shoe salesman? Look at their other auctions.Check their feedback and look at the comments. How many other pieces did they sell? What type of COA do they provide?Do they show a picture of what you are buying plus a close-up of the signature?Do they offer PayPal or a credit card payment method? A cashier's check-only site should tell you something.Do they have a money-back guarantee?Are they located in a foreign country? That could be a problem for returns.

That is the short list. Before bidding, see if the piece is for sale elsewhere on the net and compare the pictures, signatures, and item descriptions like size and medium, i.e. print lithograph, serigraph. They should match up. Often times you can also see the date and size of the limited edition. Do the research first. Is the same piece available for a lot less or more elsewhere? Then something is wrong somewhere in the mix. Getting a good deal is wonderful if it's a genuine piece. But getting something worthless for a few hundred dollars is no bargain. Educate yourself and try to stay with art dealers that have been around for a while. If you suspect something fishy, move on. There are plenty of dealers out there that are legitimate and offer a real product for sale. Remember that anyone can sign a piece of artwork they copied on their scanner. And anyone can buy them. Let's hope it's not you.

Related Tags: internet, avoid, art, prints, fake

Jeffrey Hauser was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master's Degree in teaching. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. He has authored 6 books and a novel, "Pursuit of the Phoenix." His latest book is, "Inside the Yellow Pages" which can be seen at his website, http://www.poweradbook.com Currently, he is the Marketing Director for http://www.thenurseschoice.com, a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.

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