Misleading Documentation at Artnet Auctions

 

The standards for buying fine art online should be no different than the standards for buying fine art from bricks and mortar art dealers, galleries and auction houses. 

It is essential when buying anything on-line, especially fine art, that the sellers description is accurate, without hyperbole and carefully match the actual item purchased and received, especially since the buyer does not inspect the work of art. 

Careful inspection and objective reporting is vital and requires connoisseurship, especially misleading condition reports and photographs that exaggerate/boost color and/or camouflage flaws is misleading. 

A sample of items currently available and recently sold lots at Artnet auctions, contradict an interview with Sergey SkaterschikovSkate's Art Market analyst regarding Artnet, "Some of these companies, like Artnet, are very good at managing fraud versus something like eBay"

Perhaps Mr. Skaterschikov should look at the artnet.com auction lots more closely!

Buying any Keith Haring Work of Art without the Keith Haring Studio, LLC Authentication is risky.

Keith Haring Radiant Baby At Artnet Auctions
Lacking Authentication from Keith Haring Studio, LLC

The Keith Haring Studio, LLC was the only authorized authority to provide authentication of artworks purported created by Keith Haring, until they ceased authenticating any works by the late artist. 

Before the Keith Haring Studio ceased authenticating works by Keith Haring, due to extensive Keith Haring counterfeit,  the Keith Haring Studio LLC, required physical inspection of all works before issuing authentications.

The Keith Haring Radiant Baby, purportly created in 1982 and offered for sale initially at artnet with an estimate of $10,000-$15,000., was not been authenticated by the Keith Haring Studio, LLC yet it was offered by artnet and later offered by Auctionata. When it was first offered by artnet, the Keith Haring Studio was authenticating works, so there was no reason other than fear of rejection to not submit it for authentication. Perplexingly, Auctionata mentions the work is tagged by LA2, although there is no evidence of LA2's collaboration, which makes little sense. Why would LA2 just tag the work and not provide any evidence of collaboration?

What is the detailed Provenance of the Radiant Baby? 
While the seller description states the Lot was once owned by the late Jan Eric Lowenadler, who committed suicide in 2010, there is no evidence confirming Mr. Lowenadler's provenance, nor is any other provenance for this work mentioned.

Since the Keith Haring Studio, LLC Authentication Committee only meets four times a year, it is irresponsible to sell any Keith Haring without prior authentication from the Keith Haring Studio, LLC, given artnet's 30 day Buyer Protection policy which  states:


A shirt that is signed with the Calder monogram in red is not a unique Alexander Calder artwork.


The lot erroneously states that the shirt is "UNIQUE", detailed as a "painting, mixed media".  

Is the shirt registered in the Archives of the Calder Foundation, New York with an application number?  If the answer is "no", documentation as an Alexander Calder is misleading.

Having the initials "CA" on a shirt does not make the shirt a unique Alexander Calder work of art.  

A $2 bill autographed by Andy Warhol sold for $10,522 is neither unique nor rare.
2 Dollar Bill Signed "Andy Warhol" sold for $10,522.
The $2.00 bill sold for an astonishing $10,522, should have be correctly documented as "After Andy Warhol". 

The reference to the $45 million achieved at Sotheby's for the 200 One Dollar Bills silkscreen ink on canvas painting is misleading. No reputable art dealer would compare an Andy Warhol 1962 canvas to an autograph on a $2 bill! 

Where is the truth in marketing? At best, the $2 bill should be documented as an After Andy Warhol, and at worst, it is worth $2!

The $2.00 bill attracted the attention of "luvwarhol" who bid $8,100; "luv warhol" also bid $900,000 on an Andy Warhol 22 inch Flower  painting that recently fetched $1.322.5 million.  Perhaps "luvwarhol" should be more discriminating?  

Campbell's Chicken Noodle poster fetches $2,875. in spite of inaccurate documentation
Campbell's Soup Poster Sold for $2,875.
Artnet discloses a similar poster fetched $2,800 at a 2008, but fails to disclose a similar poster, designated as "After Andy Warhol"  realized $1,600. at Swann Auction Galleries in June 2011

Roy Lichtenstein Shipboard Girl condition report is contradictory
Roy Lichtenstein "Refreshed" Shipboard Girl
How can a work of art be a "nice fresh impression" and at also"refreshed with yellow color"?

The Shipboard Girl lot offered on artnet has a bid of $20,000., includes disclosure the work has been "refreshed with a yellow color", yet the lot also states: Nice fresh impression
  • How much of the yellow was refreshed? 
  • Has the entire yellow been repainted from a mustard color to a bright yellow? 
  • Who did the conservation? 
  • Can the conservation be reversed?  
  • Was the red and/or blue also refreshed?  
None of this information is disclosed.  

As a buyer and seller of fine art, consistency and accurate descriptions are essential. It is never a good sign to see misleading, missing, inaccurate documentation of fine art, as it generally means that the seller is not knowledgeable or the artwork is not correct.  

A reputable art dealer would never confuse ephemera with a unique work of art and/or original limited edition. 

Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd.
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