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.
Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd.

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May 10, 2013

Why Have Auction Houses Sold A Counterfeit Calder Sculpture Over 75 Times Since 2004?

Art fraud affects art collectors at all levels, from buyers who spend a few thousand dollars to art collectors and investors who buy multi-million dollar art. Unfortunately, many art buyers find out the truth long after they were duped by a dishonest seller, and rarely receive a refund.

To con artists, Counterfeit Art is an appealing business with a low cost of goods.  Patricia Cohen, The New York Times, stated "between 1996 and 2008, Knoedler earned approximately $60 million on fraudulent artworks and cleared $40 million in profits".

Tweet This Counterfeit Sculpture misattributed to Alexander Calder has more aliases than Al Capone
2 Sculptures Misattributed to Alexander Calder sold over 75 times at auction
Earlier this year, the Calder Foundation documented a series of pink and black Sculptures, Lithographs and Textiles, all of which violate the Artist’s Intellectual Property Rights and are often fradulently misattributed to Alexander Calder.

One of the misappropriated works documented on the Calder Foundation website that caught our attention is a small metal sculpture that has sold at public auction over 75 times since 2004, at auction houses including WrightPhillipsDrouotBloomsbury, Galerie Fischer, Van Ham. 

Since 2004, the Sculpture has been misattributed over 40 times as a sculpture by Alexander Calder and more than 35 times as a sculpture created After Alexander Calder.

     Documented as Alexander Calder Pink Elephant by Van Ham
Sold for $3,616 on 12/3/09
Sculpture Misattributed to Alexander Calder Sold by Van Ham Auctions in 2009

Documented as Alexander Calder L'Élephant Noir by Wright
Sold for $5,000 on 10/12/10
Sculpture Misattributed to Alexander Calder Sold for $5,000 by Wright Auction

So far in 2013, the Counterfeit Alexander Calder Sculptures has been sold more than seven times by auction houses online and off, including: artnetChantilly EncheresArtprecium, LiveAuctioneers, Rome & Associates and Fraisse & Jabot. Thousands of dollars have been spent by innocent buyers due to deceptive selling practices; due dilligence by these firms would have revealed that every one of the Sculptures sold by these firms was not created by Alexander Calder nor approved by the Estate of Alexander Calder. 

Documented as After Alexander Calder Black Elephant by Fraisse & Jabon, 4/11/13
Sculpture Misattributed  to Alexander Calder Sold by Fraisse & Jabon

You could say the small Counterfeit Sculpture misattributed to Alexander Calder has more aliases than Al Capone, and has been documented with a number of Titles:
  • L'Élephant Noir 
  • Sun, Moon & Stars 
  • Celestial Elephant 
  • Black Elephant 
  • Pink Elephant
In fact, this small Sculpture not created by Alexander Calder sold for $24,857 even though not conceived, designed, nor painted by Alexander Calder nor authorized by anyone from the Calder Family or the Estate of Alexander Calder.

                        Sold for $24,857 by Massol as Alexander Calder L'Élephant Noir on 8/14/05
Sculpture Misattributed to Alexander Calder Sold by Massol for $24,857.

Google Search any one of the erroneous Titles above and/or or images shown in this Article, and you will see Counterfeit Sculptures attributed to Alexander Calder continue to be sold by unscrupulous art sellers.

Many auction sellers further the deception by accompanying the misattributed Calder Sculpture with a fraudulent “Certificate of Authenticity" also known as a "COA", allegedly written by George Gordon which also indicates that the Scultpure was approved by the Estate of the Alexander Calder which was never granted. The firms cited about did so!

The mobile elements were loosely based upon and have been misappropriated from images that Calder made related to his projects for Braniff Airlines.

As we have written in the past in Fine Art or eBay Fake Art?, an Article by Joseph K. Levene , “Certificate of Authenticity” (COA) Fraud is rampant; there is nothing worse, no matter how well written, than a fake COA. The bottom-line is that no COA can transform a counterfeit Work of Art into an Authentic Work of Art, and the fraudulent certificate by George Gordon is no different. As the Calder Foundation states "As works of art, these unfortunate objects are of no interest and have no historical place in Calder's life and work".

However, one thing you will never see is a Calder Application Number which is necessary to demonstrate that a Work by Calder is genuine. Curiously, many of the auction houses that have offered this small misattributed sculpture as well as the Counterfeit Textiles and Lithographs also have sold Authentic Calders that do have Calder Application Numbers.

On May 1, 2013, Titled "Black Elephant", the Sculpture was sold for $4,715 by artnet with a Certificate of Authenticity;  estimated $4,000–5,000, the counterfeit Calder attracted five bids.

Sculpture Misattributed to Alexander Calder Sold 5/1/13 by artnet.com for $4,715 that attracted 5 bids

                         Certificate of Authenticity included with artnet lot sold 5/1/13 for $4,715. 
Counterfeit Certificate of Authenticity included in Misattributed Alexander Calder artnet lot. on 5/1/13
The artnet lot sold May 1, 2013, also included the following erroneous statement:
A summary of issues you should be aware of regarding this counterfeit sculpture:
  • Offered in 2 colors, Pink or Black, neither authorized by Calder
  • Offered for sale with a range of different titles
  • The monograph signature "CA" that appears on the Sculpure is a forgery.
  • There is no authorized edition of 999.
  • Many purported sculptures have been sold repeatedly, each with the same edition number.
  • The Certificate of Authenticity (COA) from George Gordon is counterfeit, pure fiction!
  • Sometimes documented with a 1973-2002 date, which is impossible since Alexander Calder passed away in 1976.
  • Other times, it is erroneously documented as a sculpture created in 1972 or 1973.
Everything about this Misattributed Sculpture allegedgly created in an edition of 999 is fiction, or to put it in Art terms, a blatant Counterfeit even though numerous galleries, brick and mortar auction houses and online auctions continue to sell it.

If you purchased one of these pink or black elephants, and thought it was an Authentic Sculpture by Alexander Calder, you need to realize the bad news; this purported Work is counterfeit, not created by Calder or the Calder Estate, and will never have any value similar to the Textiles and Lithographs also offered by sale by deceptive sellers.

April 14, 2013

Consignor gets $700 for Million Dollar Drawing Sold At Auction

$840 Jacques-Louis David Bought by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Jacques-Louis David purchased for $840.
Lot 228 As Described in Swann Galleries Auction Catalogue January 29, 2013 
A post in the Swann Galleries Blog stated the highest priced lot in the Old Master Drawings Auction was $42,000, fetched for a watercolor attributed to Turner. Not surprisingly, Swann Galleries did not mention the $840, with buyer's premium, fetched for Lot 228, incorrectly documented as a "French School" Work "After the painting by J-L David", created "Early Nineteeth Centrury".

Paradoxically, Swann Galleries recognized the drawing's similarilty to the Jacques-Louis David painting titled Death of Socrates, purchased by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1931, but failed to recognize this rare Work was one of several unique compositional drawings by a Jacques-Louis David. For some reason, Swann Galleries overlooked careful comparison of the many differences of Lot 228 versus the 1787 Jacques-Louis David painting in the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jacques-Louis David The Death of Socrates, 1787
Jacques-Louis David Death of Socrates, 1787 painting
Jacques-Louis David
The Death of Socrates, 1787
Oil on canvas
51 x 77 1/4 in. (129.5 x 196.2 cm)
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931 (31.45)
Collection The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
However, the curators at The Metropolitan Museum of Art did not overlook anything as they were absolutely certain Lot 228, sold in an Old Master Drawing Sale on January 29, 2013 by Swann Galleries, was an authentic Jacques-Louis David drawing, similar to another 1787 Jacques-Louis David drawing auctioned by Delorme & Collin du Bocage for $597,889 in 2005, and subsequently purchased by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.George Goldner, Curator of Drawings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art stated the drawing style is typical of David. It was obvious we had to have it.”

Comparison to the The Death of Socrates canvas purchased by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1931 shows "the seated figure of Crito reaches out imploringly to grasp Socrates’s thigh: in the earlier drawing, Crito merely looks up, holding a large open book on his lap."

Jacques-Louis David drawing now in Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Study for The Lictors Bringing Brutus the Bodies of his Sons
Jacques-Louis David
Study for The Lictors Bringing Brutus the Bodies of his Sons, 1787
Black chalk, pen and black and brown ink, brush and gray and brown wash, heightened with white gouache
Auctioned by Delorme & Collin du Bocage: 12/7/05; Lot 00071
Sold for 510,000 EUR; $597,889, now in the Collection The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The consequences of the misattribution by Swann Galleries is significant since the drawing that fetched only $700, or $840 with the buyer's premium, is actually one of several authentic, unique compositional drawings of The Death of Socrates, created in 1787 by Jacques-Louis David, and most likely, would have fetched a million dollar auction price. For reference, a similar Jacques-Louis David compositional drawing was auctioned four years ago at Sotheby's London in 2009, and that Work fetched $1,081,110 with the buyer's premium!

Had Lot 228 been documented correctly by Swann Galleries as a 1787 compositional drawing by Jacques-Louis David instead of just as an "After", the consignor would have, most likely, received a seven figure check instead of the $700 hammer price, which also does not include deductions for the Swann Galleries selling fee commission, illustration charges, insurance, etc. Accordingly, it appears the consignor of Lot 228 has the necessary support to pursue a damages claim resulting from the misattribution by Swann Galleries.

Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd.

February 21, 2013

Will the George W. Bush Presidential Museum Exhibit Self Portraits by the 43rd President?

George W. Bush Self Portrait Painting
George W. Bush Self-Portrait Portrait Painting
Recently discovered Self Portrait paintings by George W. Bush, the 43rd President, have won praise from Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith, husband and wife Art Critics, for Vulture/New York Magazine and The New York Times, respectively. Given the positive reception of the Self-Portraits, will the $200 million George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, scheduled to open May 1, 2013, Exhibit these Works?  
Jerry Saltz thinks George W. Bush's Self-Portraits "are simple and awkward, but in wonderful, unself-conscious, intense ways. They show someone doing the best he can with almost no natural gifts — except the desire to do this."

George W. Bush Presidential Center
Former First Lady Laura Bush and President George W. Bush
The new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum will include the documents and artifacts of the 43rd President, a policy institute, 15-acre park, and include Exhibition space for the Self-Portraits  by the former President

George W. Bush Self Portrait
George W. Bush Shower Self Portrait
Jerry Saltz writes "The other picture is the strangest, and the strongest. From over his shoulder, we see Bush looking at himself in the bathtub. This means we've seen two images of him cleansing himself, in warm water. It's already enough to set you off on fantasies of aloofness, aloneness, exile, and hiding. Bush regards himself. Yet nothing untoward is showing or seen."

Roberta Smith, Art Critic, The New York Times, "wonders if Bush is familiar with Jasper Johns’s “Seasons” where each of the four paintings is shadowed by a male, seemingly unclothed silhouette, or Pierre Bonnard’s strangely chaste, luminous paintings of his wife reclining in a bathtub."

Jasper Johns The Seasons Set of 4 intaglios

Jasper Johns The Seasons Set of 4 Intaglios

John Russell, Art Critic, The New York Times, reviewed Jasper Johns 1987 Seasons Exhibition, and observed "Things dear to him are listed, pored over, set down on the canvas in an idiom that is both rich and dense, and thereafter combined and recombined."

To create a rich Exhibition experience, the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum should exhibit examples from Jasper Johns Seasons Series along with the Bush Self-Portraits. 

Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd.

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