You should avoid buying online art from Artsy auctions

by Robert Grunder & Joseph K. Levene 

Selection fake Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein art repeatedly sold by Artsy 
Over the past decade, there has been little objective Artsy analysis, the majority of published articles are unusually praiseworthy, often without reviewing and/or challenging the facts or respective spokesperson interviewed, exacerbated by Artsy's consistent failure to not release financials, yet repeatedly touting massive annual growth.

We recently took a deeper dive into Artsy auctions to present the truth about potential pitfalls about buying art from Artsy; bottomline, our article sums it up by warning art buyers and in particular novice art buyers to stay away from Artsy auctions since we are confident smart art buyers wouldn't dream of buying art in Artsy auctions. 

In our opinion, the current CEO Mike Steib has been coached well and knows what to say to attract positive press, but at the end of the day, based on the material posted online, Artsy continues to condone deceptive sellers, and unfortunately like eBay, favors revenue over ethics. 

While this blog article takes a deeper dive into Artsy auctions, the questionable and too often deceptive material that is offered for sale is not only confined to Artsy auctions as there are thousands of counterfeits listed 24/7 on Artsy's Buy It Now platform. It is not hard to find these spurious lots, yet surprising little has been written about this ticking time bomb, although numerous negative consumer reviews posted on Trustpilot, BBB, Google and we presume other sites too, don't hold back the truth about buying art from Artsy. 

Although this article features the headline “You should avoid buying online art from Artsy auctions”, there are a dozen other suitable headlines for this blog article that takes a deeper dive into Artsy auctions so potential users are aware of the pitfalls before buying art from Artsy: 

  • Buying at Artsy curated auctions should be avoided, period. 
  • Artsy never edits auction lot descriptions for accuracy. 
  • Artsy boasts transparent pricing yet erases all realized prices and unsold auction lots.
  • Artsy auctions routinely include misleading lot descriptions and photographs, deceptive information, incorrect condition reports and worthless counterfeits, many  sold with false COA's. 
  • Artsy doesn't take responsibility for anything posted in online auctions. 
  • Artsy's broad conditions of sale provides no assurance title is passed.
  • Buying art from Artsy auctions is hazardous to your pocketbook. 
  • Buyers never receive refunds from Artsy auctions because Artsy is not responsible for errors or misleading content. 
  • Artsy doesn’t vet listings and never inspects lots offered in curated auctions, either before or after the art is sold, breeding ground for fraud.
  • Artsy doesn’t provide any guarantee of authenticity for curated auctions.
  • Serious art collectors know they should never buy art from Artsy auctions.
  • Buying authentic art from Artsy is like playing Russian roulette.   

Although Artsy boasts it's the leading online art platform, annual subscription revenue from 3,200 partner galleries does not cover Artsy overhead. Artsy overhead is enormous, including at least 325 employees, hefty salaries for founders, management and 28 engineerssignificant financial package for CEO Mike Steib, plus offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong and Berlin. Artsy revenue remains tight lipped mystery; press interviews with current and former management repeatedly acknowledge Artsy success anecdotally, although Artsy has never released financial specifics and probably won't anytime soon. 

In a 2017 funding round, Artsy raised incremental $50 million, bringing total funding to $100.9 million with the goal to expand into auctions and secure partnerships from Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips, the three leading brick-and-mortar auction houses. Becoming competitive in auctions was a smart marketing decision to improve profitability since  auction buying is a significant choice among art buyers. According to the 2020 UBS Reportbuying directly from a gallery premises was most common, buying online from galleries next most common and buying art at auction was third, cited by 54% of respondents. 

What happened to $50 million investment in Artsy auctions to improve profitability? Artsy's investors must be livid as there is no evidence $50 million investment was well spent. Where did it go? Christie's and Sotheby's have vanished on Artsy and Phillips has virtually disappeared, posting only two 2021 Artsy auctions, January 21, 2021 and April 20, 2021 Editions and Works on Paper Day & Evening sales. For the 104 day period from January 1, 2021 through April 15, 2021, 75 Artsy auctions were posted, including 10 benefit auctions. Second and third-tier firms posting Artsy auctions include: Bonham'sHeritageBernard JacobsonRagoTate WardForumRoseberysDigard, Italy's Fineart, CapsuleEHC Fine Art. Visit to view stellar group of over 200 artnet auction partners, including Sotheby's, Christie's, Phillips, Heritage. The list of artnet partners is impressive both in volume and quality vs. Artsy, demonstrating the importance of implementing strict partnership standards. 

Aside from posted lots from Phillips, Bonham's, Bernard Jacobson, Heritage, Wright, Rago, Fineart, concerning abundance downscale, not collectable, incorrectly documented art posted in Artsy auctions. Many listings fall into a gray area, requiring and/or necessitating explanation, although many avoid necessary explanation; the lot descriptions are sloppy, with insufficient disclosure. We are not referencing one or two lots, or even a handful, but disturbing plethora of spurious material, i.e., hundreds and hundreds of lots, majority not documented in recognized catalogue raisonnes. Virtually none would appear at Sotheby's, Christie's or Phillips, or for sale by any Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) member. Undesirable lots are often sold with false certificates of authenticity, and lot descriptions often include unnecessary hyperbole, misleading and/or false statements and lack key photographs, such as failing to show the work framed, when indicated. 

The bulk of posted Artsy auction lots are in these areas: 
Artsy's auction interface is dated and clumsy, not technologically advanced. It is inconceivable $50 million was spent as the interface is neither innovative nor even up to date given the competition. Spend a few minutes browsing and you'll immediately realize the auction interface is ill-designed, presumably created by designers who've never bid in any online art auction. If you want to check out a particular lot, users are forced to painstakingly click each lot to determine if the reserve has been met, both frustrating and time consuming. Navigation is unnecessarily clumsy; once you click into a lot, it is impossible to navigate to the next lot without first clicking out of the initial lot. Bottomline, the Artsy auction interface is an amateur mess. 

Negative Glassdoor reviews by former employees don't mince words regarding concerning company issues; one former Artsy employee stated
"Glory days are over. Company fell off a cliff after years of turmoil and leadership change", giving this advice to management "We're behind in every product aspect. Can't remember the last time Artsy innovated in the space."
Unlike online auctions offered by Sotheby's, Christie's, Phillips, and even second tier auction houses like Doyle, Hindman and Freemans, there is no attempt to streamline the process. For instance, every lot in an Artsy's Capsule sale closes at the same time. Most auction houses generally stagger online lots by at least one minute so the respective interface is not overloaded, plus it gives users a chance to bid on multiple lots. For bidders who snipe, online auction lots at Sotheby's and Christie's receive five minutes of extended bidding. Artsy states lots can be extended, but don't see evidence lots are extended.

Although payment is made to Artsy, Artsy does not pass Title for auction lots sold in hosted auctions, stating New York Uniform Commercial Code is applicable for ownership transfer. The inability to pass Title is a dealbreaker for knowledgable art buyers. Artsy relies on the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) for auction transactions which is puzzling since many lots indicate foreign location and ownership which is not recognized nor applicable for UCC transactions. For reference, the UCC is not a federal law: Instead, it is model legislation that is uniform in the United States. The UCC governs contractual sale of goods for domestic transactions within the United States but the UCC actually has no International jurisdiction so if a problem occurs, only recourse is complaining. Visit Trustpilot to read complaints from multiple unhappy Artsy buyers who confirm Artsy asserts no responsibility regarding purchases, and essentially doesn't care in the least, in direct contrast to Sotheby's Christie's, Phillips, and big name Artsy partner art dealers.
Artsy does not pass Title stating New York Uniform Commercial Code applicable.

Artsy maintains it has no responsibility concerning sold online art although United States Federal Law indicates otherwise. An auctioneer may be liable if he conducts auctions without passing title. According to law auctioneers are required to pass title; since Artsy receives payment, it should not shirk its responsibility. Pursuant to the Uniform Commercial Code, a buyer may "revoke his/her acceptance of goods or part thereof, for nonconformity of the goods sold within a reasonable time after the buyer discovers the nonconformity".

Artsy never lists auction specialist names. Check auctions at Sotheby's, Christie's, Phillips, and you always see specialist's name with accompanying contact information. Buyers contemplating buying in online auctions expect immediate replies, especially when the art is not inspected. Since February 2021, Robin Roche is Artsy Senior Director Auction consignment; Ms. Roche is a former Auctionata employee,  online auction firm forced into bankruptcy due to serious trade violations, including inflating financial results, shill bids, erasing unsold lots, etc.

Users complain about consistent lack of urgency by Artsy staff. There is no excuse to ignore Artsy users, especially since listings are often incomplete, contradictory and confusing; many listings have inconsistent photographs, vague provenance and incorrect measurements, purposely overlooked since deceptive sellers recognize there is little risk of recourse since Artsy doesn't vet listings. If you have a question, users are forced to send anonymous messages and wait. On August 25, 2020, Tom Feeney, complained about Artsy's poor email system; Mr. Feeney provided an unsolicited one star organic Trustpilot review stating "Never return emails. Crazy." 

Nosebleed shipping and VAT surcharges are unwelcome surprise for auction lots dispatched from Europe. Too often Artsy buyers are held hostage with excessive shipping costs for auction lots with foreign ownership, specific costs not disclosed. An organic Trustpilot review from an Artsy buyer cited "Multiple errors in basic shipping documentation suggest to me that Artsy do not know what they are doing, or much care. For example, a missing Declaration of Authenticity resulted in me incurring EU import duty at 29% instead of 6%. I find I cannot reclaim this cost because, although the sale was annulled, and despite Artsy’s advertised returns policy, their shipper had declared it non-returnable. Artsy continue to blank my requests for reimbursement, leaving me significantly out of pocket". 

Artsy's conditions of sale state information in listings are an opinion, not statement of fact, which explains why Artsy auctions are open invitation to defraud buyers. Artsy conditions of sale state "Listing descriptions and condition reports may make reference to particular imperfections, but bidders should note Artsy lots may have other faults not expressly referred to in the listing or condition report. All dimensions are approximate. Illustrations are for identification purposes only and cannot be used as precise indications of size or to convey full information as to the actual condition of lots."  

Because Artsy condition reports are irrelevant, it's "the wild wild west" when you buy in Artsy auctions. Although moot, should you want a condition report, Artsy states you may have to pay for them. Most incredulously, "information provided to prospective buyers with respect to any lot, including any pre-sale estimate, whether written or oral, and information in any listing, condition or other report, commentary or valuation, is not a representation of fact but rather a statement of opinion held by Artsy based solely upon information provided to us by the seller."
Artsy's horrifying AS IS conditions of sale indicate information in any listing is opinion, not statement of fact,
making Artsy auctions open invitation to defraud buyers.

Few buyers are aware horrifying AS IS conditions of sale, exacerbated due to Artsy's apathetic non-vetting stance.
Artsy conditions of sale indicate neither Artsy nor Seller has liability regarding authenticity, medium, provenance, description, size, condition, etc. 
Distinct dichotomy between organic Trustpilot reviews about Artsy, meaning unsolicited reviews versus solicited reviews which are not only coincidentally positive but alarmingly superficial. Trustpilot reviewer C.A.S. speculates Artsy is "concerned with trying to bury mine and others' complaints on this site under a load of paid-for "5-star" posts". Organic Trustpilot reviews are uniformly negative while Artsy solicited reviews are coincidentally uniformly positive. Trustpilot reviews received organically indicate complaints about Artsy's lack of quality, poor customer service, proliferation counterfeits and misleading documentation. By comparison, Artsy solicited reviews are superficial, incredulously praise-worthy. 

Pervasive lack of standards at Artsy auctions. If you have a problem, Artsy will inform you that you didn't read the fine print as C.A.S. notes in Artsy review on Trustpilot because he informed Artsy after 8 days instead of the required 7, which is an acceptable cop-out. Online art buyers expect auction houses to do their due diligence and require reimbursement for lots not authentic and/or incorrectly documented. C.A.S. is one of many unhappy Artsy buyers who have left negative reviews on Trustpilot. On the policy overview page, Artsy states sellers selling  plagiarized, stolen, or fake listings may result in permanent termination, emphasis on "may". Like eBay, Artsy believes partnership revenue has greater value than ethics; Artsy's listing policy states: we will send you a warning after three complaints, depending on the severity of the issue which may result in immediate termination.

1 star Trustpilot organic review from C.A.S. indicates Artsy relaxed about "fakery" & "Artsy purchase not unique as described"

TJ, an Artsy buyer provided 1 star Trustpilot review, 9/22/2020, stating "if he could give them negative stars" due to alarming lack of ethics, stating Artsy won't refund purchase due to deceptive documentation, which according to incredulous Artsy conditions of sale is irrelevant. 
 1 star Trustpilot organic review by TJ states Artsy refuses purchase refund for deceptively documented art

Matt Harding, 2019 Artsy auction seller, posted 1 star Trustpilot review 11/3/2020 about Artsy's "absolutely awful customer service", stating it has been over three months since he dispatched art he sold in Artsy auction, and thus far, not received payment.

 1 star organic Trustpilot review from Matt Harding indicates Artsy hasn't issued payment for sold auction consignment 

Artsy does not pro-actively vet listings even though published management interviews falsely state Artsy consistently monitors listings. The reality is Artsy does not vet listings since the purported vetting team is non-existent. CEO Mike Steib erroneously states: "the integrity of works on our site have to be beyond reproach. We have a full time team reviewing every artwork on the site and taking action when appropriate. Works you have identified as spurious, and any further works you wish to flag for us, will get the team's immediate attention." Exacerbating the issue is Artsy's meaningless conditions of sale which provide no consumer protection which in our opinion, is a ticking time bomb. Inexcusably CEO Mike Steib has been briefed numerous times about this oversight. Without a specific vetting procedure and vetting team, Artsy management condones counterfeits and misdocumented art, in direct contrast to the impeccable standards of most of Artsy's top name gallery partners. 

In a 1 star Trustpilot review, Artsy buyer C.A.S. states "Seemingly relaxed about fakery and mis-selling on their platform, Artsy strikes me as the kind of player that gives art dealing a bad name. My purchase turned into an expensive ordeal, and I have no reason to believe that the same would not happen again."
View tweet on twitter

Even former and current employees acknowledge Artsy's business model is defective.
Check-out negative reviews from current and former Artsy employees:
Apr 24, 2021
Glassdoor — Glory Days are over. Company fell off a cliff after years of turmoil and leadership change. No cross-team alignment even within the same department, bureaucracy is rampant. No new innovation happening, culture is dead. Went from the amazing goal of revolutionizing/democratizing the art world to basically making a high value Etsy instead.

Apr 13, 2021
Glassdoor — The ship is sinking. Too many employees for such a small market making it impossible to hit your goals.

May 3, 2020
Glassdoor — Company values mask lack of communication and transparency. Vision did not align with company mission.

Oct 14, 2019
Glassdoor — From Great to Terrible. Within 1 year working at Artsy, things deteriorated more rapidly than I've ever seen.Shady business practices took hold & sales team essentially had a 100% turnover rate.

Artsy auctions consistently flooded with counterfeits
A recent Artsy EHC auction that ended May 4, 2021 included purported Roy Lichtenstein offset lithograph of Girl in the Mirror erroneously described as rare promotional print published by Art Basel in edition of 1,000 that in reality is counterfeit, never published by Art Basel in 1987 or documented by the Lichtenstein Foundation. Most of the counterfeit Artsy listings boast the seller's inclusion of a Certificate of Authenticity (COA), which is also counterfeit and facilitated by Artsy who makes no attempt to review the authenticity of any Certificate of Authenticity. It is a felony in 50 States for an art seller to knowingly uses a false COA to sell a counterfeit work of art. 
Purported Roy Lichtenstein offset lithograph not published by Art Basel, not documented by Lichtenstein Foundation

Let's look at the facts, Art Basel is well known for hosting Art Fairs, but alas, Art Basel has never published any limited editions including this purported "rare promotional print erroneously documented as an edition of 1000" using Roy Lichtenstein's iconic Girl in the Mirror, 1964, porcelain enamel on steel edition of eight originally created over five decades ago. Recently an example of Roy Lichtenstein Girl in the Mirror, 1964 sold at Phillips London for £4,800,000. 

Careful review of 1987 Art Basel press material yields no mention and/or reference to numerous rare Art Basel promotional editions of 1,000 Artsy has offered and sold frequently on its Buy Now and auction interfaces. Furthermore, there are other disturbing anomalies. A verso image included in this auction lot and others indicates "vintage print" which is illogical for legitimate 1987 published print edition. Also the verso is stamped in ink, stating "1000 copies" which is an embarrassingly sloppy error; an established publisher of limited editions would never refer to a numbered edition of 1,000 impressions by incorrectly ascribing "copies"; a more precise reference is "edition of 1,000". Let's say the limited edition was published and released in 1987, no established publisher would immediately reference a contemporary print publication as "vintage", to think otherwise is absurd. 

1987 limited edition from established publisher would never state "Vintage-Print" or "1000 copies"

The purported Roy Lichtenstein Girl in Mirror 1987 Art Basel rare promotional print is
 not referenced, mentioned or included on extensive list of 1987 Roy Lichtenstein artworks documented by the Lichtenstein Foundation. First, Roy Lichtenstein was very much alive in 1987; plus the Lichtenstein Foundation includes an ample list of posters, ephemera and promotional art, but not this counterfeit. Bottomline, this is not a rare promotional anything, just a worthless counterfeit; it is not collectable and never will be. Unfortunately this counterfeit is one of numerous fraudulent artworks sold at Artsy, in its auctions and Buy Now platforms. 

Roy Lichtenstein Girl in Mirror, 1964 is iconic artwork created on porcelain enamel on steel, executed in an edition of eight examples, each measuring 42 x 42 inches. Here is the legitimate documentation record at the Lichtenstein Foundation.
Roy Lichtenstein Girl in Mirror, 1964, porcelain enamel on steel documented by the Lichtenstein Foundation 

This is not the only time EHC Fine Art sold a counterfeit impression of this same Roy Lichtenstein print on Artsy. Here is another counterfeit impression sold by Artsy in EHC Essential Editions IV auction

Counterfeit Roy Lichtenstein never published by Art Basel in 1987 in edition of 1,000 sold on Artsy

Here is counterfeit Andy Warhol Bighorn Ram, EHC Fine Art sold in 2018 Artsy auction, also purportedly published in 1987 by Art Basel as a rare promotional edition of 1,000. While Art Basel is well known for hosting Art Fairs, to date, Art Basel has never published any limited edition, including this counterfeit using Andy Warhol Bighorn Ram image originally created for the Endangered Species portfolio of 10. 

Many Artsy sellers make fraudulent art more accessible. 
EHC is a habitual Artsy abuser, repeatedly selling $3,500.color plates reproducing George Condo paintings removed from a 2011 George Condo Skarstedt Gallery exhibition catalogue originally sold for $30. EHC deceptively documents the $3,500 Artsy non collectible Condo listing as edition of 400, aware this plate was removed from exhibition catalogue. Artsy proudly claims it makes art more accessible; because Artsy doesn't monitor listings, many Artsy sellers make fraudulent art more accessible, scamming trusting Artsy users who mistakenly believe Artsy sellers are thoroughly vetted.

Counterfeit Andy Warhol Bighorn Ram not published by Art Basel in 1987 in edition of 1,000 
In October 2019, Chiswick Auctions sold several counterfeit Andy Warhol prints in Artsy's auctions, falsely claiming they were published by Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. One of the counterfeits sold was Andy Warhol Mickey Mouse print Chiswick erroneously stated was stamped "CMOA" on the verso. The reality is the Andy Warhol Mickey Mouse is just one of several dozen counterfeit Andy Warhol prints never published or authorized by the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. In 2015,, a Swiss auction firm withdrew 36 counterfeit Andy Warhol prints, all purportedly published by the Carnegie Museum and stamped CMOA on verso. Even though we have repeatedly informed CEO Mike Steib and the Artsy auction team the Carnegie Museum never published Andy Warhol art stamped "CMOA" on the verso, our notice with confirmed substantiation has fallen on deaf ears as dozens and dozens of Andy Warhol counterfeits were sold by Artsy, and dozens are listed for sale on Artsy and in its auctions. 

Counterfeit Andy Warhol Mickey Mouse print never published by Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

Counterfeit Andy Warhol Campbell's Pepper Pot Soup print never published by Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, sold on Artsy auction by Chiswick Auctions, October 2019.

Counterfeit Andy Warhol Pepper Pop Soup never published by Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh sold by Chiswick Auctions on Artsy, October 2019 

View seven additional counterfeit Andy Warhol prints never published by Art Basel or Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, offered and sold by deceptive sellers, each condoned by Artsy:

Counterfeit Andy Warhol prints posted for sale on Artsy  never published by Art Basel and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

Posthumous Renoir is not original limited edition. A posthumous Pierre-Auguste Renoir impression of Le Chapeau Epingle' (La Fille de Berthe Morisot et so Cousine), an 1884 work actually printed in 1921 sold by Heather James Gallery got our attention because it was incorrectly documented as an original etching which is impossible. Sold in 2018 by Heather James Gallery in an unnamed benefit auction, the Artsy auction lot attracted spirited bidding; estimated at $2,000, this incorrectly documented lot received 15 bids, selling for $7,200, including Artsy's 20% buyer's premium. Without question, the deceptive documentation is the sole reason it attracted 15 bids. A knowledgable auction specialist would never condone similar egregious sloppiness, comparable posthumous Renoir prints generally fetch less than one-fifth the price. Since Artsy has received over $100 million in funding, it is unacceptable for management to condone this callousness. 
Posthumous Renoir incorrectly documented as original etching Heather James Gallery sold for $7,200 with buyer's premium 

Heather James Gallery did not include photograph showing frame mentioned in lot description, a recurring Artsy observation. Also documentation incorrectly indicates "signature L/L", when in reality the posthumous 1921 print is signed in the stone, therefore, not hand-signed at all, but again that was not stated. The correct signature documentation reference, which is a designated Artsy field, is "signed "Renoir" in the stone lower lower left recto". If Artsy were more transparent, the lot would also mention: "not hand signed".

There is no excuse for sloppy documentation which is repeatedly condoned again and again; a competent specialist would recognize the impossibility a posthumous edition is not  original. The lack of vigilance is inexcusable as an anonymous Artsy buyer was scammed since this posthumous Pierre-Auguste Renoir was incorrectly designated as original. The reality is this posthumous print is neither collectible, desirable and not original; we are also absolutely certain Heather James Gallery recognized it is neither original or collectible. 

There is a significant Artsy user group pre-disposed to incorrectly documented and generally worthless listings by famous name artists, often sold at so called bargain prices who mistakenly equate value to low price. This Artsy buyer group is reeled in by the appeal of so called low bargain prices since they fail to recognize they are actually buying worthless crap that never appreciates. More alarming, this material will never be re-purchased by the respective seller's of this worthless Artsy crap. 

Repeatedly we have observed spirited auction bidding at low price levels for works by famous name artists, either deceptively and/or incorrectly documented. As a result, Artsy has attracted a small group of dealers and Artsy auction consignors who exploit and leverage downscale art, in effect non collectible material that will never appreciate, and in fact over time, will erode user confidence as evident by Trustpilot and Better Business Bureau reviews To be clear, we are referring to Artsy listings that would never be sold by Sotheby's, Christie's, Philips, or any current member of the Art Dealers Association of America and the International Fine Art Dealer's Association. 

Every one of 111 lots in Artsy's x Capsule Modern & Contemporary Master Auction of March 25, 2021 closed simultaneously and disappeared at exactly 12 noon, making it impossible for anyone to bid on multiple lots. Realized auction prices as well as unsold lots were nowhere to be found 12:01 pm, March 25, 2021. Because we carefully monitored the sale, we estimate only 46 of 111 lots, March 25, 2021 sold, representing 41% sell through rate; the auction grossed paltry $177,840 including buyer's premium. Specifically aggregate hammer price gross was $148,200 and gross buyer's premium insignificant $29,640.

Artsy x Capsule March 25, 2021 auction grossed $177,840, 46 of 111 lots sold,
representing 41% sell through; total buyer's premium for 46 lots only $29,640.
Aside from 3 miscatalogued lots, 2 by Pablo Picasso, another by Frank Stella and 3 others, Artsy's March 25, 2021 Capsule Modern & Contemporary Master Auction failed to include Masters. The majority of 111 posted lots were inconsequential, lots advertised prints by Donald Baechler, the Conner Brothers, Mr. Brainwash, Donald Sultan, Invader, Mark Ryden, Swoon, Hunt Slonem, Sonia Delaunay; others were purportedly posters by Joan Miro and Jacob Lawrence, none recognized as Masters.

Several lots in March 25, 2021 Artsy curated auction were documentation challenged. Lot 1 was purported 1964 Pablo Picasso terracotta impression, Petit buste de femme (A.R. 523), edition number 53/100 with a $25,000-$35,000 pre-sale estimate that went unsold. 

Artsy includes only one photo for Lot 1Pablo Picasso Petit buste de femme (A.R. 523), 1964

The following side-by-side compares the purported Artsy example to another terracotta example of 
Pablo Picasso Petit buste de femme (A.R. 523), 1964 sold by Christie's in 2015.

Atypical color example offered @Artsy compared to example sold at Christie's in 2015 

Christie's included a photograph of Picasso's Madoura stamp appearing on the verso, "Madoura Plein Feu/Empreinte Originale de Picasso/42/100" in its lot listing, which is essential due to the extent of counterfeit Madoura examples flooding the market. It was callous of Artsy specialist, if there was one, to overlook inclusion of verso photograph especially since no one inspects any lot, and based on posted conditions of sale, never will. Carefully compare the two photographs above; there are enough visible red flags; we would never recommend buying purported Picasso terracotta without prior inspection.

Posted Artsy assurances are loaded with meaningless double-talk including erroneous authenticity statement. "We pride ourselves on the quality of our partners, and every seller is required to accurately list works on our platform. That said, you should always feel empowered to ask for documentation related to an artwork’s authenticity, provenance, condition, and so forth." The statement is obvious double-talk and hyperbole in light of Artsy's "AS IS" anything goes condition of sale.
"A review from a former Artsy employee states "No one believes Artsy is 'honest and transparent'. The old CEO's regime maybe didn't have great business sense but at least people felt valued and wanted to do good work."
Meaningless posted Artsy authenticity statement:
Artsy's meaningless double-talk assurance regarding authenticity
Artsy should establish bona-fide condition of sale not full of empty prose to ensure users don't buy fraudulent counterfeits or misdocumented art. It behooves Artsy to eliminate "wild wild west" conditions of sale, post haste. 

A prime example Artsy's disingenuous and meaningless statement "we pride ourselves on the quality of our partners" is Lot 3, in April 25, 2021 Artsy auction, purportedly Pablo Picasso linocut titled Femme assise en pyjama de plage II, 1964. 

This is text-book example of sloppy Artsy documentation consistently condoned again and again. The regular published numbered edition of 100 impressions was printed on paper that measures 21 1/2 x 17 inches, image size: 15 1/2 x 11 3/4 inches. Yet, the Artsy lot documents the impression as 15 2/5 x 11 7/10 inches, which is close to the image size if it doesn't include the border, but why guess and don't you want to know the accurate size? Online art buyers are not fans of receiving art materially different than the posted lot descriptions and posted lot photographs.

Why does Artsy fail to show photograph with frame mentioned in lot description? Why the secrecy? The condition report states “No apparent condition issues. Framed dimensions: 15 3/8 x 11 3/4”, now we’ve already established paper size must be 21 1/2 x 17 inches according to Pablo Picasso catalogue raisonne of prints, so this is impossible. Even worse, specialist didn't include photograph showing purported framed Picasso even though lot description indicates “work not examined outside the frame”. If it wasn’t examined outside of frame, then why is there is no posted photograph of framed impression? It is impossible and unprofessional! If you bid, what are you buying? 

The color of Pablo Picasso linocut, appears unusually bright and enhanced, inconsistent with images documented in well known Pablo Picasso linocut catalogue raisonne and impressions sold by reputable auction firms like Christie's. Just like many posted Artsy auction lots, the lot details vague provenance, ”private collection United States”, which means nothing but understandable given Glassdoor statement from former Artsy employee, "the company is now run by a bunch of corporate hypocrites who know nothing about art".

Why does lot description indicate edition number as 96/100 yet photograph shows HC impression. The specialist in charge, if there is one, indicates impression is edition number "96/100" yet lot photograph that was presumably green-lighted and approved, indicates unnumbered "HC"; which is correct? We would never consider buying this purported Pablo Picasso Artsy auction lot and neither should you.

Artsy lot photograph indicates purported Picasso impression is "HC"
although lot description indicates contradictory edition number "96/100"
Sellers get free pass to sell whatever they want without fear of recourse thanks to meaningless Artsy conditions of sale. It is just that dangerous for all Artsy buyers and why smart buyers should avoid buying in Artsy auctions. Artsy has attracted a small group of dealers and art sellers who exploit and leverage downscale artworks by capitalizing on Artsy's legitimacy.

Misleading Frank Stella photograph generates enthusiastic auction bidding. A misleading photograph of Frank Stella Bene Come II Sale, 1989 is clearly why lot 2 received 9 bids, achieving $13,200The following side by side shows both photographs included in misleading Artsy lot; we assume the enhanced photograph is the sole reason an otherwise dull impression of Frank Stella Bene Come II Sale, 1989 had spirited bidding, assuming bidders didn't check inconsistent photographs. 
Artsy lead photograph shows misleading enhanced photograph of Frank Stella Bene Come II Sale, 1989
This side by side comparison shows two impressions of Frank Stella's Bene Come II Sale, 1989, the enhanced, misleading impression sold by Artsy adjacent to another impression sold at Phillips, 10/25/2019,  each of the impressions from same regular numbered edition of 50. Artsy's enhanced impression, edition number 27/50, fetched $13,200, while Phillips impression, edition number 22/50, realized $8,750, 10/25/2019. 

Enhanced impression, edition number 27/50 sold by Artsy realized $13,200
compared to edition number 22/50, sold for $8,750 at Phillips NY, 10/25/2019 

Glaring lack of involvement by Artsy specialists;
it is unacceptable to condone obvious sloppiness. Based on numerous complaints from Artsy buyers and sellers who have bought and sold art, Artsy consistently fails to take any responsibility even when the facts are obvious. Legitimate complaints by Artsy buyers are repeatedly ignored and/or difficult to find because they are buried under coincidental abundance of five star invited reviews. 

Unlike eBay and 1stdibs, Artsy never asks or posts user feedback. However, user reviews posted on Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot underscore Artsy has consistently failed to pro-actively vet listings. A serious flaw is Artsy's management's failure to implement pro-active vetting procedure to ensure site without spurious, incorrectly documented or worse, counterfeit art. Paradoxically, Artsy has first class editorial program and often authors considered articles about the dangers of buying fine art both online and in galleries, yet Artsy has a blind eye to eliminating spurious and/or incorrectly documented art. 
2020 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 
Is it authentic? The fear of buying counterfeits was cited by over half of respondents in the 2020 Hiscox online trade report. According to the 2020 Hiscox online art trade report, 60% of art buyers said lack of information about an artwork’s provenance was a serious impediment to buying, and 51% stated a fear of buying art because it could be a fake. Artsy has never implemented any post sale safeguards. Clearly buyer confidence is paramount yet Artsy continues to host auctions with sellers who post incorrectly described works and clear fakes. In addition, Artsy is notoriously silent regarding the specific systems in place regarding counterfeits, and won't divulge number of complaints received regarding fakes and forgeries. In addition legitimate Artsy user concerns and complaints are diminished and or reduced in Google Search because Artsy has published a variety of articles about authenticity issues. In all cases the published Artsy articles never address legitimate concerns posted by users nor objectively assess obvious flaws in posted Artsy listings. As a result, this strategy buries the user reviews deeper in Google Search result, which was a strategy effectively that used by Auctionata before it was forced to close after burning through $95.4 million in venture capital
Until Artsy eliminates its appalling, and apathetic conditions of sale, we can't think of a single reason you should risk buying art from Artsy. Whether buying art online or buying art in a gallery, it is essential the art is authentic, ideally documented in the artist's catalogue raisonne if there is one. If not documented in an authoritative source like a catalogue raisonne, it is always risky to buy art if the seller description is unclear or inaccurate. There is no point in buying the wrong art, or art with little value, or worse, a counterfeit due to false or exaggerated hyperbole. 

Once you lose a level of trust and buyer confidence in the art world, you are finished. Recent online sites that have experienced and realized abandonment of user trust include Auctionata and Paddle8. Condoning the appalling conditions of sale and apathetic stance regarding vetting place Artsy on fast track to eroding user trust and ultimately abandonment by gallery partners. 

Going forward, Artsy cannot exclusively rely on implementation of just marketing and technology initiatives but must implement pro-active vetting game-plan with bona team as well as establish post purchase/user satisfaction team. This is a serious oversight that remarkably the company has never established; the challenge is daunting and requires concerted team to ensure Artsy is always void of spurious, incorrectly documented listings or worse counterfeits. Currently CEO Mike Steib states Artsy welcomes input from users about spurious material, stating his team is beyond reproach but Steib fails to realize one million Artsy listings requires a full time vetting team.
Pro-active vetting requires establishing/ devoted, knowledgable team, actively reviewing all Artsy listings. Every day Artsy fails to implement pro-active team devoted to only vetting all Artsy listings, Artsy enables more fraud, first, because counterfeit/spurious listings are posted 24/7 on Artsy and in its auctions. If on the other hand Artsy does nothing and ignores our plea, then Artsy's seemingly inability and indifference to sufficiently address the lack of buyer confidence will lead art buyers and reputable dealers/galleries to ultimately abandon the platform.


abaan sheikh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dan hum said...

Fraudulent fuckers