February 26, 2015

Skate's Online Art Market Analysis Narrow, Lacks Substantiation

Actual 2014 Online Art Market Estimate by Joseph K. Levene, The Fine Art Blog
Actual 2014 Online Art Market Estimate by Joseph K. Levene, The Fine Art Blog

Skates overlooks at least $1 billion Online Art volume at eBay and Christie's

Based on recent data regarding 2014 sales released by Christie's and Auctionata, Skate's February 2015 analysis erroneously proclaims Auctionata leader of 2014 Online Art trading volume and overlooks $178 million generated by Christie's LIVE online bidders. Skate's overlooks estimates for Online Art sales volume generated by eBay and Sotheby's, yet provides estimates for artnet and Paddle8 even though published results won't be available until March.

Skate's 2014 Online Art Market Estimate
Skate's 2014 Online Art Market Estimate 

Proclaiming Auctionata leader in online art trading volume is misleading

Auctionata fails to provide specifics to support the $41 million realized in 2014. Although Skate’s Art Industry News report names Auctionata as leader in online trade volume with $41 million in gross merchandise value sold, no category or location specifics are detailed in either the Auctionata press release or Skate's.  In addition, no details show trading volume generated from auctions, online marketplace and appraisals for which Auctionata charges an exorbitant 2.38% appraisal fee if the user submits 6 or more items for evaluation.

Tyeb Mehta (Untitled) Falling Bull Purchased on Christie's LIVE or $2.8 million
Tyeb Mehta (Untitled) Falling Bull
Purchased on Christie's LIVE or $2.8 million

Why does Skates overlook the added value from Christie's LIVE

There is significant added value realized by online bidders at Christie's LIVE even if users aren't the successful bidder. Christie's realized $178 million from online bidders in addition to $35.1 million generated from 78 e-commerce sales, +54% vs. the prior year. Christie's e-commerce platform has introduced buyers from 69 countries with 32% new to Christie's and 42% of these buyers under the age of 45 years. The highest priced lot via Christie’s LIVE was Tyeb Mehta’s (Untitled) Falling Bull sold for $2.8 million in the inaugural Mumbai, India sale, December 2014.

How can Skate's forecast Paddle8 and artnet sales when results not public?

Skate’s Art Industry News report also states:
"While Paddle8 and artnet.com AG have not yet published their results, Skate’s runs a close tally of their online auctions and expects Paddle8 to report GMV of about $37-40 million for 2014, while artnet.com is unlikely to exceed $30 million GMV for 2014".
Since Paddle8 typically ends all lots simultaneously, unless Skate's has multiple personnel that carefully watch each lot, we question how Skate's determines which lots are sold vs. unsold. For instance, in the Paddle8 Perfect Match auction, 25 jewelry lots ended simultaneously at 5pm on 2/25/2015, of which 12 had one bid not meeting the reserve. Since all bids at Paddle8 are anonymous, critics question whether bids not meeting the reserve are real bids, chandelier bids or shill bids?

Paddle8 Jewelry Lots

The rules for selling art online should be no different than offline

Vendors who sell Art online should be held to the same standards as brick & mortar art sellers. Both Christie's and Sotheby's provide the same terms of guarantee whether online or off. In other words, in the event a buyer purchases a work of art incorrectly documented and/or counterfeit, for a four year period, the sale can be rescinded. The launch of Christie's e-commerce platform expands the Christie's potential buyer universe by providing a safe buying experience.

By comparison, documentation errors/omissions, Authenticity issues, incorrect condition reports and surprise shipping costs and limited return policies highlight reasons users aren't rushing to buy Art Online at Auctionata, Paddle8 and Amazon/Art. Documentation of many lots offered at Paddle8 is routinely vague/limited, often without accompanying photos, since the Paddle8 never inspects lots prior to listing and relies on the consignor for lot information.

What lots excluded by the Auctionata Guarantee?
Auctionata boasts a 25 year Guarantee
What lots are excluded by the Auctionata Guarantee?

Auctionata 2014 highlights boast 11 lots sold totaled €2 million, raising the question, show me the remaining €29 million ($33 million)!

According to Auctionata, revenue totaled €31.5 million in 2014, but how much volume traces to each Auctionata category?  Unfortunately, Auctionata fails to breakout 2014 trading volume realized by category, location and fees for appraisals, buy-ins, along with payments to its 300 Experts who receive a commission incentive should the lot be auctioned and a fixed fee for the initial appraisal based on time spent.

Convicted fraudster and former Auctionata employee Hao Ji aka Joseph Hokai Tang
Hao Ji aka Joseph Hokai Tang, former Auctionata employee convicted for fraud 
Linkedin resume of Convicted fraudster and former Auctionata employee Hao Ji aka Joseph Hokai Tang
LinkedIn profile Hao Ji aka Joseph Hokai Tang, former Auctionata employee 

Auctionata boasts a team of 300 experts, one of these so called experts was convicted of fraud and is no longer employed by Auctionata. These experts evaluate property before lots are offered at auction or in the Auctionata online store; many Auctionata lots are misleadingly and deceptively documented, often without accurate provenance and catalog raisonne details. A frequent pattern of deception at Auctionata includes repeated reference to vague/erroneous International auction results, all without links and specificity. Or erroneous reference to catalog raisonne documentation when selling an After entirely inconsistent with the respective entry; stating a work is signed even though it bears a spurious signature; inaccurately reporting condition when the photos show significant light stain or a watch is defective.

Why didn't Auctionata disclose Lesser Ury painting was sold twice at auction?

Auctionata Search results indicate 1,323 paintings sold "recently",  the highest price was $130K realized for a Lesser Ury painting.  For reference, 197 paintings sold were priced below $2,000, and the majority, 975 paintings fetched under $1,000, considerably below the target price range of $5,000-$20,000.
Why did Auctionata lot details not disclose Lesser Ury painting previously sold twice at auction?
Lesser Ury Dame im blauden kleid im cafe
Sold by Auctionata for $130,000

Disturbing is the blatant provenance omission since the Lesser Ury painting was sold twice at auction before it was offered at Auctionata; in 2009 for $92,855 and in 1995 for $87,470. Furthermore, provenance details in the December, 2014 lot description were absolutely incorrect as the painting was not in the same Private Collection since 1997.

Why was the Auctionata Expert unable to provide accurate auction provenance history? It took this user less that 3 minutes to locate the painting's auction history. The Auctionata buyer paid $130,000 for this Lesser Fry painting and was misled, exacerbated by  A Rediscovery, an Auctionata Blog Article,  even though the Ury was sold and "discovered" in a 2009 auction, realizing nearly the same price fetched 14 years earlier! In addition to getting an initial fee covering time spent, each freelance Auctionata Expert receives a pro-rata commission of the highest bid for the respective lot, so skewing the results, and/or omitting certain facts is beneficial.

The Auctionata Lot for the Lesser Fry sold in December, 2014, includes the following erroneous documentation concealing two prior auction results and for some reason, suggests comparable Cafe Scene paintings sell for twice what the very same painting actually sold for at auction.
"Lesser Ury is known and appreciated for his street scenes and coffee house images in impressionist style, the interior scene presented here shows one of the coffee houses on Berlin's boulevard  band is arguably one of his finest examples of a café scene; comparable subjects fetch up to €180,000 on the international auction market."
What is the reason for this overt deception? We doubt there is a system in place to review documentation by Auctionata Experts as we have identified numerous instances of published/sold lots with multiple errors, i.e., counterfeits, condition errors, provenance errors, etc., modified facts and empty references to International auction results without specifics; that is no links, dates, photographs, etc., and most documented with inflated fantasy results like the Fry.   
Lesser Fry Painting sold for $92,855, December, 2009 NOT disclosed by Auctionata
Lesser Fry Painting sold for $92,855, December, 2009
Ironically, Auctionata states every work comes with a story, and in the case of so many works at Auctionata, it is a story that begins with deception and ends with omission. Why did the Auctionata expert not disclose Lesser Ury painting sold at least twice at auction? And bizarrely state comparable subjects fetch up to €180,000 on the International auction market?

The majority of lots offered for sale on Auctionata lack documentation clarity and include either vague support or no support. Too often lots sold exclude obvious information like date of sale; sale number; lot number; vague references to comparable sales results, lacking specificity/accuracy, many without links that art professionals and collectors understand and require.

Why does Alexander Zacke, CEO Auctionata, say art is a stable and safe investment?
Alexander Zacke, CEO and Founder, Auctionata

5 Auctionata Myths:

    MYTH 1. Art is not only a stable, but also a safe, investment. By safe I mean that afterwords, the item has appreciated in value. Art is therefore a long-term, stable and safe investment states Alexander Zacke, CEO and Auctionata founder.
    Unless Mr. Zacke has a crystal ball, it is irresponsible and unethical to guarantee that art is a stable and safe investment, especially since the majority of art sold on Auctionata would not be considered collectible by knowledgeable art professionals and collectors. For a considered analysis on this topic, read Art as an Investment? A Survey of Comparative Assets by Melanie Gerlis.
    MYTH 2. Auctionata strives to meet the demand for a trusted online auction space that protects both the seller and the buyer from fraud states Ben Hartley, International Managing Director Auctionata, and formerly President, Louise Blouin Media. Most of the so called "afters" sold by Auctionata are actually counterfeits no reputable auction house and/or art dealer would consider offering for sale, none considered safe. Most of the "afters" sold by Auctionata, shown below, include erroneous, vague reference to comparable auction results, most without links.
     131 "After" Lots sold by Auctionata NOT covered by Auctionata Guarantee, most counterfeit
     131 "After" Lots NOT covered by Auctionata Guarantee
Counterfeit After Andy Warhol sold by Auctionata with erroneous signature
Counterfeit After Andy Warhol sold by Auctionata with erroneous signature 
    MYTH 3. Most items sell in our auctions between $5,000 to $20,000 states Ben Hartley, International Managing Director. During 2014, Auctionata ONLY sold 193 lots priced between $5,000 to $20,000, out of a universe of 8,255 lots sold in Germany and New York, translating to just 2.3% of total lots sold. Regarding New York sales, based on the limited Search available, Auctionata sold 34 lots during 2014, of which 6 were priced between $5,000 to $20,000. 
    Most surprising, Auctionata sold 1,840 lots priced under $50, representing 22% of ALL lots sold in 2014, contrary to its 2/15 press release stating there is a "demand in the mid-market range for art and luxury collectibles that is not being met." In our judgment, every $50 lot sold by Auctionata has an incremental administrative cost of at least $125 per lot; to avoid unnecessary financial ruin, it behooves Auctionalta to cease selling so many low end lots under $150-$250, which will never be profitable even with almost 50% commission rate from buyer and seller. After all, Auctionata is building auction studios around the world; has a team of over 300 employees and 300 experts, etc. 
    Full disclosure, the Auctionata Search, does not include a way to search with a custom date range; accordingly,"recently sold" was used to generate 2014 sold items.
    MYTH 4. Our specialists vet and evaluate every piece sold at Auctionata.com and all purchases come with a 25 year guarantee.
    10.5 Auctionata Terms of Guarantee exclusion:  If an item’s catalogue description explicitly includes a caveat or restriction regarding the reliability of the information provided, then said information will not form part of the agreed characteristics. In this case, the purchaser will purchase the item at his own risk as far as the information in question is concerned. If a catalogue description explicitly refers to an item as a “copy” (e.g. as a “museum copy”), then the item in question will be deemed purchased as a copy and not as an original, thereby precluding any warranty for defects in this regard. If the catalogue description explicitly describes or designates an item as being "of doubtful authenticity", then said item will be deemed purchased not as an original but as an “item of doubtful authenticity”, thereby precluding any warranty in this regard. Inasmuch, neither the starting auction price nor the final hammer price of an item can be used to draw inferences about the actual characteristics or authenticity of that item.
Section 10.5 from the Auctionata Guarantee excludes Works designated as an "after", reproduction and/or copy; at least 131 Prints sold by Auctionata during 2014 are not covered by the  Auctionata guarantee.
MYTH 5. It is inexpensive to sell your lots on Auctionata and getting valuations is free. The Auctionata website states "There are many advantages to selling on Auctionata that you simply won't find anywhere else. We provide access to an extensive network of International experts who will value your property."
Auctionata consignors face excessive selling fees that are hardly competitive and not user friendly. Consignors should think two, three or four times before agreeing to a consignment since you can count on paying a 20% selling commission for all sold lots, either online or via its online marketplace; 2% storage fee if unsold lots are not picked up within 14 days; possible 2.5% insurance fee; shipping & handling fees; photography fees and incredibly, an appraisal fee of 2.38% + €119 if you want an appraisal of 10 or more items. 
Factor in buyers fee and most lots have a commission rate yielding Auctionata a commission of 45%-50%. And don't even think about paying late which means that unless payment is received within 7 days, you are faced with 16% per annum late charge. Have second thoughts about an Auctionata consignment and face 25% penalty of the mean estimate for each consigned item removed.
The moral is proceed with caution before you sign an Auctionata consignment contract.

January 13, 2015

Richard Pettibone Auction Prices Increase Dramatically

An Appropriation pioneer, Richard Pettibone laid the groundwork for many Appropriation Artists including Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, Vik Muniz, Eric Doeringer, Richard Prince and Elaine Sturtevant. Ken Johnson, The New York Times observesRichard Pettibone has devoted his career to making small reproductions of works by Brancusi, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Stella and other artists whose fame far exceeded his.

The recent Museum of Modern Exhibition of Elaine Sturtevant, an Appropriation Artists who was a contemporary of Pettibone, caused a significant spike in auction prices. Sturtevant's Appropriation of Roy Lichtenstein Crying Girl fetched $3.4 million at Christie's, 11/12/14; the same painting sold for $710.K at Phillips three years earlier.

Similarly, auction prices for Richard Pettibone Pop Art Appropriations have increased dramatically recently.
Richard Pettibone Roy Lichtenstein, The Artist's Studio: The Dance, 1975
70% increase vs. last time sold at auction.

Richard Pettibone Roy Lichtenstein Masterpiece, 1962
Richard Pettibone Roy Lichtenstein Masterpiece, 1962 Richard Pettibone Roy Lichtenstein Masterpiece, 1962
Sotheby's 3/9/2011
$50-$70K Pass
Sotheby's 9/24/2014
Sold $106,000.

Richard Pettibone Roy Lichtenstein Rouen Cathedral, 1970
Richard Pettibone Pair Rouen Cathedrals Sold Christie's Richard Pettibone Pair Rouen Cathedrals Sold Christie's
Christie's 5/12/2010
Sold $56,250.
Christie's 11/13/2013
Sold $106,250.

Richard Pettibone Andy Warhol Jackies, 1970
3 Richard Pettibone Andy Warhol Jackies Offered At Auction
LA Modern 3/6/2011
$15-$18K Pass
Sotheby's 9/14/2011
Sold $10,794.
Sotheby's 10/18/2014
Sold $32,000.

Follow +Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd. 

July 30, 2014

4 Lithographs Not Created by Calder You Should Never Buy

4 Lithographs Calder Did Not Create and are Counterfeit
The Alexander Calder Foundation presents Color Lithographs misattributed to Alexander Calder often sold by auction houses and art sellers. Put another way, these four misappropriated works are Counterfeit and have no value. Because the Works are overt counterfeits, we would encourage any buyer who has been duped to demand a refund if the Counterfeit Work was purchased within the last four years from a United States Seller.

Color Lithographs Deceptively Sold as Works by Alexander Calder
Color Lithographs Deceptively Sold as Works by Alexander Calder
Violations of the Intellectual Property Rights of Alexander Calder

What does the Calder Foundation state about these Fake Lithographs? 
The Calder Foundation states each of the four Counterfeits violate the Artist’s Intellectual Property Rights and are often fraudulently misattributed to Alexander Calder.  Sellers erroneously state the Color Lithographs that look like Calders are accompanied with a Certificate of Authenticity, which again is just a rouse, as the COA is also Counterfeit.

What are the Titles?
Because the 4 Prints are Counterfeits, the Titles are not etched in stone, so it is best to focus on the images, recognizing the Titles vary. That said, the Fakes are often sold with these titles:

  • Trees
  • Mountain Tops
  • Candy Cane, Candy Canes
  • Dark Pyramid
  • Pyramid
  • Mountain & Trees
  • Birds in Flight
  • Lollipops
  • Composition With Doves

Two Examples of Counterfeit Calder titled  Candy Canes
Two impressions of Counterfeit Calder titled  Candy Canes
Top example signed in pencil; the other signed in the stone
Signatures on Counterfeits Vary
Sometimes the Seller will state the Counterfeit Calder is Pencil Signed, Unsigned or Signed in the Stone. Since each is a Counterfeit, whether the seller states the Purported Calder is signed in pencil or not, is just a fantasy, a total fabrication; a violation of the Intellectual Property Rights of the Artist.

Alexander Calder 
The Alexander Calder Foundation has established a procedure in which owners of purported Works of Alexander Calder can submit the respective Work of Art to the Foundation. Dealers & Auction Houses who sell Art by Alexander Calder know the Calder Foundation does not provide information on registered artworks, meaning that it is impossible to verify Works that are already registered. What this means is that if someone tells you a Work is registered, your acceptance of the information is based on the trust method, as it is impossible to actually verify this information.
Owners of works attributed to Alexander Calder may apply to register their works in the archive by completing an Application for Registration
Counterfeit Calder listed on eBay
In July 2014, an eBay Seller known as the-strongman listed a Counterfeit Calder on eBay with the Title Candy Cane with a starting bid of $1,499. with this documentation:
  • Lithograph Titled "Candy Cane" By Alexander Calder. 
  • Beautiful Art Piece On Extra Thick Paper With Gorgeous Vibrant Colors. 
  • Sheet Measures 28" X 20".
  • Published In 1975 By Xxe In Paris, France As A Rare Plate Signed Limited Edition Of 500. 
  • Publishers Stamp Is On Back Of Image. 
  • Accompanied with Certificate Of Authenticity
Counterfeit Calder Lot listed on eBay in July 2014  
Counterfeit Calder Lot listed on eBay in July 2014
Counterfeit Calder Lot Listed on eBay by the-strongman 

Images used by the-strongman on eBay to offer Counterfeit Calder
Images used by the-strongman in eBay Lot to offer Counterfeit Calder

the-strongman is a Top Rated: Seller with highest buyer ratings, which according to eBay, indicates the Seller has achieved:
eBayTop Seller Credentials 
What are the facts about the Counterfeit eBay Lot from the-strongman:
  • Documentation fraudulent; why did eBay even allow the lot to be listed? 
  • Falsely described; NOT A Signed Limited Edition of 500 impressions. 
  • Counterfeit Publishers Stamp Does NOT Transform the Print so it is authentic.
  • Accompanied With A Certificate of Authenticity; not from anyone legitimate.
  • This print was NOT created by Alexander Calder NOR the Estate of Alexander Calder
What does the Alexander Calder Foundation state about this Counterfeit?
The Alexander Calder Foundation states this Counterfeit Calder Print comes from a group of prints not created by Alexander Calder, nor authorized by Calder and/or the Foundation. All examples of this print, whether signed, stone signed or unsigned, are FAKE and are violations of Intellectual Property of the Artist.

Misattributed Calder Lithograph Documented by Calder Foundation

Counterfeit Calders Not Limited to eBay
Too many Sellers have sold Counterfeit Calder Lithographs to show every instance. However, any seller/firm that sells or has handled Alexander Calder Works with an Application Number authorized by the Alexander Calder Foundation should know better. Professional Art Sellers who sell these fakes should get no free pass.  Why risk doing business with someone who buys and sells Counterfeits?

Candy Cane Counterfeit Sold at LA Modern
LA Modern, who states that Alexander Calder is a featured Artist, sold a Counterfeit impression documented as Alexander Calder Untitled, edition number, 112/150 for $1,125. on June 26, 2011

Counterfeit Calder sold by LA Modern for $1125

Furthermore, LA Modern has sold numerous tapestries documented as Works created by Alexander Calder when the Calder Foundation states otherwise, including not After Calder.  

Despite the fact the Alexander Calder Foundation has overtly stated Candy Cane, Candy Canes, Untitled, etc., is NOT an Alexander Calder, this same Fraudulent Lithograph appears over 44 times on Live Auctioneers!

Fraudulent Calder listings have appeared on Live Auctioneers over 44 times
Fraudulent Calder listings have appeared on Live Auctioneers over 44 times

On April 27, 2014, another Counterfeit Candy Canes impression sold for $1,250 by Burchard Galleries, also on Live Auctioneers. Other impressions of this same Calder Fake appear 8 times on Live Auctioneers during July and August, 2014.

Fake Calders offered Live Auctioneers 8 times, July-August, 2014
Fake Calders listed 8 times on  Live Auctioneers, July-August 2014
Counterfeit Calder know as Lollipops or Mountain, Trees
Another Counterfeit Calder documented by the Calder Foundation with the title Lollipops, also known as Mountain, Trees was sold by Clars on Live Auctioneers, January 15, 2012.  The Clars lot fraudulently states the print is Pencil signed, from the edition of 125, accompanied with Certificate of Authenticity.  Makes you wonder why people keep asking for a Certificate of Authenticity as if by magic the Work will become authentic!

Nothing could be further from the truth. +Joseph K. Levene wrote more about this in Fine Art or Fake Artspecifically stating: Certificates of Authenticity Do Not Transform Counterfeits to authentic Works of Art.

Counterfeit Calder sold for $850. by Clars on Live Auctioneers
Counterfeit Calder sold for $850. by Clars on Live Auctioneers

Counterfeit Calder Titled Trees, Mountains detailed on Masterworks Fine Art; although sold, details include: 
  • hand signed by Alexander Calder in pencil in the lower right.
  • numbered 2/125 in pencil in the lower left.
Masterworks Fine Art states Misattributed Calder titled Trees and Mountains is sold

Classified as a Misattributed Calder by the Calder FoundationMasterworks Fine Art states that Trees and Mountains is a Work by Alexander Calder, accompanied with an erroneous Certificate of Authenticity:

Certificate of Authenticity Highlights from Masterworks Fine Art
Masterworks Fine Art Purchase Assurance
Masterworks Fine Art Purchase Assurance
From the Learn More section, Masterworks Fine Art further states further states  The Certificate of Authenticity (COA)  that accompanies every work of art and guarantees the authenticity of the piece for as long as you own it.
This original document protects the security and genuineness of your purchase and provides detailed information regarding your work of art. Following the State of California Civil Code 1744 COA requirements, the Certificate of Authenticity fully and accurately describes the work of art, including but not limited to the title, artist, date, medium, edition, signature, dimensions, and catalogue raisonne references. The Certificate of Authenticity only contains factual information that can be verified by outside sources, further attesting to its value and validity as a guaranty of authenticity.
That should provide relief to the buyer since the Calder Foundation has unequivocally stated that Birds in Flight is Counterfeit.

Masterworks describes the Counterfeit with the following text which helps capture those looking for the same image, titled Lollipops in lieu of Trees, Mountains.
Four trees reminiscent of blown up lollipops sprout up from the foreground while black and white striped mountains slope gently in the background.

Birds in Flight has flown to almost a dozen other Art Sellers!
BonhamsBloomsburyDoyleSwannArt Brokerage, Ruby Lane, Galerie Michelartnet1stdibs, Grossman Gallery and Piasa who erroneously states the fake was published by Maeght.

 Counterfeit Calder known as Birds in Flight & Composition With Doves
Counterfeit Alexander Calder known as Birds in Flight & Composition With Doves
Counterfeit Alexander Calder known as Birds in Flight & Composition With Doves
The fourth Counterfeit Calder is most often titled Dark Pyramid or Pyramid, also a violation of the Alexander Calder Intellectual Property Rights. It is available for purchase on Amazon.
Erroneously Documented as an Alexander Calder listed on Amazon  
Erroneously Documented as an Alexander Calder listed on Amazon
Misattributed Calder on Amazon for $157.46
Titled Pyramid on Amazon, but also sold as Pyramids & Sun & Dark Pyramid 

Counterfeit Calder Titled Pyramids & Sun appears 9 Times on Invaluable
Counterfeit Calder Titled Pyramids & Sun appears 9 Times on Invaluable

Art Sellers offering Counterfeit Calder Titled Pyramid include:
  • Artistic Holdings CompanyJuly 26, 2014, estimate $440 - $770, stated Published In 1975 By Xxe In Paris, France As A Rare Plate Signed & Numbered Ltd Ed. 500 + A Certificate Of Authenticity
  • Artistic Holdings Company, June 28, 2014, on Invaluable
  • RoGallery November 3, 2011 on Invaluable
  • Masterworks Fine Art offers work titled Dark Pyramid
  • artnet offered edition number 3/150 titled Dark Pyramid, estimate of $4,000-$5,000, 9/21/12. 
Like the other Misattributed Works, this Counterfeit was NOT created by Alexander Calder nor authorized by The Estate of Alexander Calder.

Whether titled Candy Canes, Lollipops, Pyramids, Birds in Flight or Mountains and Trees doesn't change the fact that every image like those seen above are  FAKE!

Why do Auction Houses and Art Dealers offer fake Calders?
Counterfeits plague the Art Market ranging from several hundred dollars on eBay and other online art sites to multi-millions scams such as the $80 million art scam that forced the 165 year old Knoedler Gallery to shut down.

eBay & Sotheby's announce new partnership 
Will eBay's new business initiative force the Company to establish pro-active procedures to eliminate Counterfeit Art?
First, eBay recently announced a partnership with Invaluable formally Artfact, a former eBay partner, that will bring live auctions back into the eBay platform. eBay stopped hosting live auctions on December 31, 2008 amid to rumors of lawsuits, shill bidding and other impropriety. Second, eBay announced a new partnership with Sotheby's that brings auctions from 18 Sotheby's categories to eBay's 145 million users.

June 19, 2014

Auctionata erroneously documents €120K Flower Painting

Counterfeit Andy Warhol at Auctionata
Painting included in Auction No. 72,  June 20, 2014

Auctionata deceptively attributes 1977 painting with flowers to Andy Warhol in June 20, 2014 Post-War & Contemporary Art online Auction.

The Auctionata description for lot 101 erroneously states the Work is an Andy Warhol even though Andy Warhol did not create nor authorize the Painting offered with a staggering 120K estimate. 
Threre is no reference to any 1977 painting resembling the Auctionata Lot in Volume Two of the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, none with Red & Blue Flowers. In addition, the purported lot not only claims a creation date of 1977, it measures a scant 13.78 x 13.78 inches (35 x 35 cm)

Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 2 by George Frei
Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 2 by George Frei

In fact, Volume Two confirms Andy Warhol created sixty 14 x 14 inches (35.6 x 35.6 cm) Flower Paintings on Black & White and Green & Black backgrounds; each created in 1965.

The Auctionata Lot is not Authenticated by the Estate of Andy Warhol and/or the Andy Warhol  Art Authentication Board, which disbanded in 2013. In addition, nothing resembling lot 101 appears in the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné.

A jpg of the verso confirms that the purported flower painting is not Signed by Andy Warhol nor Authenticated by anyone at the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board. 
Verso of Painting included in Auction No. 72,  June 20, 2014
Verso of Painting included in Auction No. 72,  June 20, 2014

A clue that Andy Warhol had nothing to do with Lot 101 comes from Auctionata's lot description referencing "Sunday B. Morning”:
"The present work comes from the inventory of the former Gallery D and therefore does not bear the signature of the artist, but instead bears the stamp with the famous phrase ‘fill in your own signature / published by Sunday B. Morning’. This stamp of the Belgian printer and publisher Sunday B. Morning can be found on many unlimited editions of prints by Warhol, but less frequently in his paintings. Warhol had worked with the Belgian printer and editor who also published the print-portfolios “Marilyn” (1970) and “Flowers” (1973) since 1970."

However, Andy Warhol never collaborated with Sunday B. Morning. No edition printed by Sunday B. Morning was created by and/or associated with Andy Warhol.

Auctionata boasts a 25 year Guarantee
Auctionata boasts a 25 year Guarantee

Lot 101 is documented by Mr. Hans Irrek, who is not an employee of Auctionata, which voids the 25 year Guarantee.

Auctionata confirms Mr. Hans Irrek is not employed by Auctionata
Auctionata confirms Mr. Hans Irrek is not employed by Auctionata

Established in 2012, Auctionata boasts a team of 245 experts who value, authenticate and curate art, watches and fine art objects; one of these so called experts was convicted of fraud, and is no longer employed by Auctionata.

Numerous conditions are necessary to enforce the 25 year Auctionata Guarantee. In other words, the Guarantee has numerous loopholesindicating there will be No Guarantee if the documentation is  provided by an expert not employed by Auctionata.

Conditions from Auctionata:
Auctionata Guarantees 
that the descriptions provided in the auction catalogue correspond to the generally recognized state of technical/scientific knowledge publicly available at the time of the item’s purchase with respect to the following agreed characteristics: a) the identity of the artist or manufacturer; and b) the time of creation or manufacture of the item. If any of the above elements of an item’s catalogue description are provided subject to a caveat, or are identified as having been determined by external experts not employed by Auctionata, or are missing from the catalogue description altogether, then the information in question will not be covered by the Auctionata Guarantee. The Auctionata Guarantee applies only to the information referenced above under a) and b), but not to any other information, e.g. regarding the item’s provenance, technique of fabrication, serial classification, numbering or edition.

Auctionata Guarantee Conditions

Auctionata secured $20.2 million funding in 2012, so as to achieve a greater share of the online art market which is dominated by Christie's and Sotheby's as well as recent entries such as Artsy and Artspace.

Why is Auctionata purposely misleading by documenting this Lot as an Andy Warhol? 

August 23, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Buy Art from Amazon

Amazon Art is shockingly sloppy, dated, lacks professionalism & financially risky
Amazon.com/art is shockingly sloppy, dated, lacks professionalism and financially risky
Amazon Art is Shockingly Sloppy, Dated, Lacks Professionalism & Vastly Overpriced
Amazon.com, the experienced online e-commerce site well known for selling books, dvd's, pots & pans, and recently, even wine, launched a beta art site in August 2013. The site features art at a broad spectrum of price points, from $10.00 dollars for a Untitled (dollar bill) by Ryan Humphrey to a Norman Rockwell Painting offered for $4.850 million. 
In our opinion, the new Amazon.com art section is shockingly sloppy, dated, lacks professionalism and unless the A-To-Z Guarantee is revised, financially risky for art with a price-tag of more than $2,500especially if you find out the art you purchased is different than you thought and report the problem more than 30 days after the art was shipped. In addition, there are numerous instances of art for sale that is grossly overpriced, in some cases, more than 10+ times the last public price at auction! 

Amazon Art Site lacks the pizzazz of Artspace, 1stdips, Paddle8, Artsy
Amazon.com/art lacks the pizazz of artspace, 1stdibs, paddle8, artsy
Amazon.com/art Lacks Pizazz and Feels Dated 
We think the new Amazon art site lacks pizazz and feels dated vs. online art ventures from artspaceartsypaddle81stdibs and the always innovative Christie's and Sotheby's.

We have been carefully looking at the new site for the past two weeks to see how Amazon offers Art by Andy Warhol, Richard Pettibone, Claude Monet, Norman Rockwell, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, etc., and frankly, are less than impressed. The new Amazon/art site was launched with little thought to providing a safe infrastructure for online art purchases. 

Frankly, the less than professional website Amazon introduced is even more surprising since Amazon has had previous online art experience as a 2000 partner with sothebys.com in Sotheby's unsuccessful launch of online art auctions. 

The difference between the Sotheby's and Amazon ventures are huge:
  • Although Sotheby's lost nearly $100 million in its launch of online auctions, there was a fundamental difference in quality between Amazon and sothebys.com. When Sothebys.com launched, consumers never had to question any lot's authenticity as Sotheby's eliminated the possibility of any and all consumer risk concerning counterfeits and/or Works not being as described.
Accordingly, the Sothebys.com selling proposition joined then with Amazon as a partner, ensured that all lots offered online had the same five year Terms of Guarantee found at the bricks and mortar Sotheby's; for reference, Christie's provides a similar Terms of Guarantee.

By comparison, Amazon forgot this key selling point, and only offers a 30 days from date of shipment guarantee up to $2,500., even though you can buy art with price-tags of several million. Erik Fairleigh, an Amazon spokesman, said that Amazon "is not providing an ironclad guarantee of authenticity" but is “working with prestigious galleries and dealers”  to ensure quality and would investigate any potential problems and “take appropriate action.”

Amazon has an obligation to protect online art buyers with an appropriate Terms of Guarantee that covers the total online amazon/art purchase, not just the first $2,500. 

Did someone in Amazon Legal Department forget that the $4.850 million Norman Rockwell is not be covered with its current A-To-Z Guarantee? The insufficient consumer protection guarantee offered by amazon is a reminder of the insufficient $250 Buyer Protection maximum offered by eBay until 2010. In fact, the inappropriate $250 eBay Buyer Protection maximum encouraged Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd. to provide all Clients with a guarantee of Authenticity for all Fine Art offered and sold on eBay at all price points when the Joseph K Levene Fine Art Ltd eBay Store was launched in 1999. Essentially, Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd. decided that its online Terms of Guarantee for its eBay Store should match the art vendor requirements as specified by the Uniform Commercial Code.

Let's face it, art fraud is rampant and frequently in the news because there is no art market regulation. These headlines should make you think twice before you risk buying art on amazon:  
Amazon.com/art is Alarmingly Handicapped
Although Peter Faricy, V.P., Amazon Marketplace, said "Amazon Art gives galleries a way to bring their passion and expertise about the artists they represent to our millions of customers", the site is alarming handicapped. Many images that Amazon's art dealers are posting are inconsistent with Mr. Faricy's press release statement:  

We have noticed numerous images on amazon that are reproductions from Books and/or Catalogue Raisonnes, including art with six figures prices like the Andy Warhol Suite of 10 Jew Screenprints for $185,000. that are sold framed, yet there are no frames shown.

Look closely and see moire patterns from scanned images from Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonne: 1962-1987, Fourth Edition, D.A.P., New York, 2003. 
Andy Warhol Suite of 10 Jews Appears To Be A Scan from Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonne: 1962-1987
Andy Warhol Suite of 10 Jews Screenprints
 Image Appears to be Scan from Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonne: 1962-1987
Amazon.com/art Looks Like The Losing Team Design From The Apprentice
The new art site from amazon is so sloppy and poorly designed, that if it weren't live, you might think it was created by a losing team from Donald Trump's The Apprentice seen on NBC.
Amazon.com/art looks like it was created by a losing team from The Apprentice
You might think Amazon.com/art was created by the losing team from Donald Trump's The Apprentice
Is Amazon.com vetting the art for sale 24/7?
The Amazon.com/art site has been designed with little thought to provide sufficient details to ensure that online art buyers aren't confused and/or surprised should they pull the trigger and make an online art purchase.

Does anyone at Amazon/art actually understand the requirements of selling fine art online, especially if the art is priced beyond a few dollars? The new site appears to be managed by someone with little insight about selling fine art, especially the concerns of online art buyers who don't want surprises since they don't see the art they purchase before making payment. 

It is essential someone at amazon be given the responsibility to ensure all online art for sale is both authentic and not vastly overpriced. Furthermore it behooves amazon to implement a procedure to ensure listings include accurate condition assessments; correct documentation details; inclusion of photographs of the actual art for sale and appropriate provenance.

Listings that don't meet this criteria should be removed. For reference, we have made numerous attempts to communicate errors we have noticed to amazon and have yet to receive a response, even though many errors cited in this Article in The Art Fine Blog have been previously reported. 

Highlights of serious problems/oversights on Amazon/art:

  • no condition descriptions and instances of incorrect condition
  • incorrect documentation
  • prints that are clearly editions, are sited as being unique
  • works are reproduced directly from books
  • works that are described as framed shown unframed 
  • works lack catalogue raisonne information
  • signature locations are often incorrect 
  • authenticity questions are numerous, especially with the sloppy documentation?
  • incorrect framing dimensions
  • shipping/transit insurance not detailed
  • consistency vs. catalogue raisonne 
  • excessive hyperbole
  • poorly written artist biographies
  • titles that deliberately changed incorrectly
  • excessively overpriced art for sale that no reasonable art dealer would ever recommend.
Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee covers purchases up to $2,500 within 30 days of shipment
The amazon art site was launched with an insufficient refund policy. Let's say you buy a Picasso Etching for $150,000., and find out it is not authentic after you have owned it for two months? 
  • What happens next
  • Is the entire $150,000 covered? 
  • If it is fake, amazon guarantees you will get $2,500 refund if you speak up within 30 days of shipment, but probably nothing after 60 days.
Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee covers purchase up to $2,500. within 30 days of shipment
Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee Only Covers Purchases Up To  $2,500 Within 30 days of shipment!
A-to-Z Guarantee Helps You Only Lose $147,500 if the $150,000 Etching is Fake
Well, the A-to-Z Guarantee is great for most book purchases, or that computer you give your son for graduation, but now that Amazon is selling art priced in the millions, the Amazon A-to-Z guarantee leaves you a few zeros short, especially if you find out the Work that you thought was authentic cost more than $2,501.

The sad truth is that unless you find out within 30 days of shipment, and you purchased your art via Amazon and not directly from the dealer offering the art, you might just be left holding the bag. Put another way, you might get screwed if the art you purchased turns out not to be authentic/different than what you thought it was, especially if it cost say, $150,000., as our example indicated. 

At best, you might get lucky and only lose $147,500 if the art is fake and that assumes you report the problem/issue within 30 days from the date the art was shipped to you. 

Contact Seller for Refund Policy. 
For some reason, even though all Amazon art purchases are handled by Amazon, the site has not enforced art vendors provide their respective refund policy. In fact, Amazon recommends you contact the respective art Seller, even though it doesn't mind accepting your American Express to cover payment for a Work of Art priced in the millions! 

  • What happens if you have nothing in writing if you contact that dealer directly?
  • We wouldn't dare risk buying anything with such an insufficient refund policy. 
  • Why should you?
Highlights From actual Art for sale listings on Amazon follows:

Norman Rockwell Painting for $4,850 million is the Highest Price Art For Sale!
The highest priced Work of Art currently being offered on Amazon.com/art is a Norman Rockwell painting titled Willie Gillis, Package from Home, offered by M.S. Rau Antiques at $4,850 million. 
HIghest Price Work of Art is Willie Gillis, Package from Home, Norman Rockwell Painting for $4,850 million
HIghest Price Art For Sale on Amazon is a Norman Rockwell Painting for $4,850 million
Sold at Susanin's Auctions for $2.8 million in December 2012
Not disclosed is that the same Norman Rockwell Painting was sold December 1, 2012 at Susanin's Auction for $2.8 million, or was it really sold?  
  • Why is there no mention that the Norman Rockwell painting was offered at Susanin's Auction in 2012 in the listings documentation details?
  • Isn't the potential buyer of this Norman Rockwell entitled to know its history? 
  • Why does Amazon condone not listing the actual history of the Norman Rockwell Painting, including provenance ownership?
After all, there was plenty of press indicating the Norman Rockwell Painting would sell for as much as $10 million when offered by Susanin's Auction in December 2012. Non-disclosure of key information is inexcusable and, most likely, in violation of the Uniform Commercial Code.
Did Susanin's actually sell the same Norman Rockwell for $2.8 million in December 2012
Did Susanin's sell the same Norman Rockwell Painting for $2.8 million in December 2012?
$1,450 million Andy Warhol is overpriced since similar painting sold for $116,772 
$1.45 million Andy Warhol  Hamburger Michel Painting is overpriced and listing filled with errors
Andy Warhol $1.45 million Hamburger Michel Vastly Overpriced Since Similar Painting Sold for $116,772

A Similar Andy Warhol Hamburger Michel Painting Fetched $116,772 at Auction

Andy Warhol Hamburger Michel Painting Sold for $116,772 by Sotheby's London
Andy Warhol Hamburger Michel Painting Sold for $116,772 by Sotheby's London

Jackie III Screenprint is the wrong color and where is the photo showing frame?
Andy Warhol Jackie III Screenprint is the wrong color & where is the frame?
Andy Warhol Jackie III Screenprint is the wrong color & where is photo showing it framed? 
Andy Warhol Jackie III Screenprint, stamp signed on verso should look like this.
Andy Warhol Jackie III Screenprint should actually look like this
$166,250 Warhol t-shirt overpriced as similar t-shirt sold at Christie's for only $9,600!
$166,500 Andy Warhol is actually a T-Shirt on White Cotton, nothing more
$166,500 Andy Warhol T-Shirt on White Cotton is Vastly Overpriced

Andy Warhol T-Shirt on Yellow Cotton Sold by Christie's For $9,600 in November 2012
Andy Warhol T-Shirt on Yellow Cotton Sold by Christie's For $9,600 in November 2012

Roy Lichtenstein Imperfect Print is an edition of 45 with 14 AP's, NOT Unique

Roy Lichtenstein Imperfect 220 is edition of 45 with 14 AP's; NOT Unique
Roy Lichtenstein Imperfect 220 is an edition of 45 with 14 AP's, NOT Unique
The Roy Lichtenstein Print, Imperfect 220 mixed media Print was published by Gemini G.E.L. in an edition of 45 numbered impressions with 14 AP's. The correct medium description is woodcut and screenprint in colors with collage on Archivart 4-ply Museum Board. Accordingly the documentation ascribed on Amazon is incorrect as this Roy Lichtenstein mixed media work of art is NOT unique and not just a woodcut.

$5,000 After Picasso sold by Ro Gallery for only $300 at Live Auctioneers 8/15/13

 Ro Gallery sold the same After Picasso for $300. 8/15/13

Ro Gallery sold the same After Picasso for only $300 vs $5,000 Amazon price from the same seller!

Ro Gallery Has the same After Picasso signed by Marina Picasso for $5,000
 Ro Gallery Has the same After Picasso signed by Marina Picasso for $5,000

Ro Gallery has same After Picasso on Amazon for +$4,700 more!

In either case, this posthumous Picasso  is hardly investment grade material. Created after Picasso died in 1973, the correct documenation is "After Picasso", not "Pablo Picasso". On Amazon, the listing states the work was created in 1932 which is also inaccurate; the original painting yes, this print signed by Marina Picasso, Pablo Picasso's granddaughter,  no.  

On Amazon, Ro Gallery states it is from the edition of 500; on Live Auctioneers it is an edition of 1000. Either way, a bad investment and not recommended. Will never be collectable nor desirable and check out how the price keeps going down on Live Auctioneers from same seller.
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