September 2, 2010

Did eBay Enable Convicted Banksy Art Forgers?

Banksy Kate Moss
Bansky Kate Moss
Two UK Banksy Art Forgers, each enabled by eBay's lack of consumer fraud protection, received suspended sentences, even though each sold hundreds of Banksy Counterfeits, deceiving countless eBay Buyers.  These eBay Buyers now have worthless Art along with worthless Certificates of Authenticity. 

Thus far, over 120 fake Banksy's sold by the two con men have been recovered, which, if genuine, are  valued in excess of $350,000.

Lee Parker and Grant Champkins-Howard were convicted of selling hundreds of  Banksy Counterfeits, yet a UK judge only sentenced them to 12-month suspended sentences after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud, plus five years community service.

In addition, each is banned from selling anything on the Internet for five years, but the damage  is done, especially since since each eBay Buyer spent thousands, and some may still not know they purchased a fake.
How many purported Banksy's were sold?
We doubt anyone knows and are certain many are still in the marketplace.
Why did eBay condone the Banksy con? 
eBay condones counterfeits because banning them entirely would severely impact revenue. eBay Management continues to favor maximizing revenue in lieu of instituting a meaningful consumer fraud protection system.

It is undeniable that eBay facilitated the Banksy fraud by allowing the con men set up multiple eBay Accounts along with different alias and multiple PayPal accounts and multiple e-mail addressees.  From eBay's standpoint, the two cons were "successful eBay Sellers", and while the eBay Buyer was hurt, eBay takes zero responsibility.

Even with eBay's "10 year too late Buyer Protection Policy", fraudulent listings are the norm, only eBay and PayPal now proclaim to guarantee often obvious Counterfeits by Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, etc.

eBay takes the position that since it does not directly buy or sell anything, there is no obligation to provide the consumer with fraud protection. It is that obvious deficiency that has made eBay a magnet for Brand Name Counterfeits.

The con men recognized how to keep their fraud under the eBay radar and provided Buyers with a worthless "Certificates of Authenticity" (COA) for the purported Banksy's.  In the event of a Buyer challenge, they refunded the Buyer's money, most likely, without damage to their feedback. 

According to eBay's Buyer Protection program,  eBay states a Buyer can usually get their money back if you get an expert opinion stating that the Item in question is "Not authentic" and/or genuine.

Who is the Authorized Expert for Banksy?
We don't know; we are certain eBay does not know either.

In a 2006  eBay Article titled Fine Art or Fake Art, Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd., wrote, "Many eBay Sellers state that their eBay lot is accompanied with a Certificate of Authenticity. eBay has made the fake Certificate of Authenticity into a cottage industry. Art Buyers should recognize that the inclusion of a meaningless Certificate of Authenticity does not instantly transform a Fake Work of Art into being "an Authentic Work of Art".

According to eBay fine print "items must be purchased on the U.S. website to qualify for eBay Buyer Protection coverage, and are covered for 45 days from the date of payment".

Report a fraudulent listing to eBay and eBay's lack of vigilance is apparent, as you receive an error message stating "eBay doesn't recognize a matching lot number in your Buyer history." 
To eBay, there is no fraud until the fraud occurs, not before, unless the inquiry comes from the copyright owner. 

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Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd.

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