Spotting a fake

Dear Artist, Recently, Doug Payne of Waddington’s Art Auctioneers in Toronto, Ontario wrote, “A painting came into our auction house and I’m not sure if this was an early work (dated ’62) or it’s not a painting by you. I’ve sold a few of your paintings over the years, but I’m not sure about this one. I’d hate to offer this in an auction and find out that it was not done by you.” Doug included a few photos including the signature and a shot of the back of the painting. I wrote Doug right away, thanked him for contacting me, and told him it was a fake. When authenticating paintings, one looks for many clues, including signature, time and style. In Doug’s painting, some of the letters within my signature didn’t match my typical ones. Time was also bogus — the title lettered on the back, “Bald Indian Bay,” was a place I didn’t get to until 2004. By far the biggest problem with the painting was the style. The work was roughly and amateurishly painted with a lot of repeated strokes and sloppy passages. An artist’s work, on close examination, practically always shows a characteristic stroke. I tend to put my strokes down and leave them alone. This faker either didn’t notice that, or didn’t know how to do it. It was one of the lousiest Genns I’d ever seen, and believe me, I’ve done some lousy ones. A painter’s stroke is her true signature. One can tell handedness, directionality, speed, thoughtfulness, liquidity, degree of commitment, types of brushes, etc. From my cocky perspective and years of looking at other artists’ works, both ancient and modern, I believe I can tell the approximate age of many artists at the time of painting. It’s estimated that 15% of historical art in private and public collections is fake. In modernist and abstract work the percentage may be higher. Even official catalogues of Monet, Degas, Cezanne, etc., appear to contain dubious entries. While not denigrating the expertise of scholars and forensic authenticators, why not get a second opinion from an actual painter? After all, many have been there, done that, and made the strokes. Best regards, Robert PS: “First appearance deceives many.” (Ovid) Esoterica: Many years ago Carol and I visited the home of a British ex-pat living in the south of Spain. His art collection included Van Gogh, Klimt, Munch, Van Dongen and Klee. While the paintings were clearly signed, he insisted on guiding us around and telling us the names so we would be sure we knew what we were looking at. The art had nothing to do with the names. A Kandinsky and a Braque looked like they might have been painted by the same faker. In my youthful cockiness I was just going to talk to him about his problem, when he announced that Lord Longbottom (or somebody) was coming around shortly for tea and we would have to go. I’ve grown mellow since then. There will always be those who buy names.   Is this a fake Robert Genn? 070913_robert-genn11     Fake 070913_robert-genn4 070913_robert-genn5 070913_robert-genn6         Authentic

This field sketch shows the more direct, characteristic ‘leave the strokes alone’ style


The specks on the dark mountain are bits of authentic sand thrown up by the helicopter


I recommend that painters standardize the info on the back, and actually sign it


Detail. One can read the order of application and the ‘signature’ is within the stroke.

            ‘Scum of the earth’ by Bob Hughes, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK  

“Water Logged Field-Back-O’The-Town Lane, Ince Blundell, Sefton”
acrylic painting
by Bob Hughes

Fakers, forgers, call them what you will, they are all ‘Scum of the earth.’ I am pretty sure there are a lot more fakes hanging on the walls of wealthy people who paid ‘Mega Bucks’ for a name artist rather than one of quality. I also agree with you: “Why not get a second opinion from an actual painter?” before they part with all that money. They would also get some very valuable insight into how an artist thinks as well, and not what the non-painters tell them what is in vogue. A lot of people are simply too embarrassed to say what’s rubbish for fear of being ridiculed.   Having a bad day? by Ron Unruh, Surrey, BC, Canada  

“Cold Muskoka Morning”
watercolour painting, 12 x 16 inches
by Ron Unruh

I can see immediately that the skies and water in this painting are not characteristic of your minimalist strokes. They are far too busy in this painting. Had I seen this at auction, I may not have concluded that it was a fake because I don’t customarily think like that, but I may have decided this was one of your earliest efforts or a bad day. In one sentence in your commentary you said, “From my cocky perspective and years of looking at other artists’ works, both ancient and modern, I believe I can tell the approximate age of many artists at the time of painting.” I am not concerned whether you have acquired a self-assured perspective after years of experience, but I am curious about the clues to a painter’s age at the time of painting. Please enlighten me. (RG note) Thanks, Ron. Many (not all) painters tighten up and become more fussy as they age. Strokes can get smaller and more deliberate. Style may remain the same but the rendition becomes disruptive. It may be due to a growing lack of confidence, vision problems, repetition or weariness. I once discussed this with the Canadian painter A. Y. Jackson. He called the condition “painterly senility” and suggested that older painters need to constantly renew their vision and refresh their stroking. He and I agreed when you follow a painter for a lifetime you can observe transitions as they happen. There is 1 comment for Having a bad day? by Ron Unruh
From: Helen Opie — Jul 14, 2013

While I recognized the composition as one seen during my one trip of 11 days of painting-peering in TO Nov-Dec 2012 (or was it a Group of Seven made yours by the faker?) I do not see anything of your style. I also that recall colour transition in the sky, which I spent quite a while admiring, but it isn’t carried out at all admirably here. There is nothing else that looks like yours and at first I didn’t recall the composition, it was too differently done. And whose composition is the original’s?

  Marking the back of a painting by Laura Waller, Tampa, FL, USA  

“Approaching the Harbour”
oil painting, 20 x 24 inches
by Laura Waller

When you write a description, date and sign the back of a canvas, what material do you use that won’t leach through over the years? (RG note) Thanks, Laura. I use a fine point “Sharpie” permanent marker. I use at least a #10 canvas that is always well primed by me as well as the priming it comes with. So far no problems that I know of. As mentioned before, I do not often put a date on my paintings.   There is 1 comment for Marking the back of a painting by Laura Waller
From: ken flitton — Jul 13, 2013

neat painting!

  Certificates of Authenticity by Lyse Anthony, Palm Harbor, FL, USA  

“The Sentinel”
watercolour painting, 27 x 39 inches
by Lyse Anthony

At my last Juried Outdoor Art Festival I was asked rather rudely if I give Certificates of Authenticity …for my Original Work! I was offended but I guess I cannot blame people for being suspicious since reproductions are now so hard to distinguish form the originals. My watercolors and reproductions are clearly marked as such on the price tag. This is one of many show regulations for artists. Apparently, this was not enough for this person. What are your thoughts about Certificates of Authenticity? Do they make the work and the reproductions more collectable? (RG note) Thanks, Lyse. It may be just my ignorance but I think certificates of authenticity to go with originals might be a bit pretentious and pompous. The material written on the back of the painting and the provenance of a jury or a trusted dealer should be enough. Remember the photo-litho print boom of a few years ago? They needed the certificates to legitimize the paper. Most of those reproductions had certificates, and though many of them were of very fine paintings, most of them are currently not worth a wheelbarrow of horse puckey. There are 4 comments for Certificates of Authenticity by Lyse Anthony
From: Fleta Monaghan — Jul 12, 2013

For work I sell from my studio exhibition space, I like to give a “certificate of Authencity” to collectors of larger works. This is not some preprinted award looking document, rather a form filled in by hand that lists the details of the painting, size, medium and some comments about the piece, along with the collectors name, address, email and phone. It includes my name and contact info and signature too, so they don;t forget who the artist is! Collectors like this touch, and it is a way for me to keep track of my collectors (I keep a copy). I give copies to the artists I represent too for their sales, so they know who purchased their work, and can send a nice thank you and reconnect for later shows.

From: Susan Avishai — Jul 12, 2013

Other things to include in paperwork to accompany a sale are (1)that the buyer is not permitted to alter the work in any way, (2)the reproductive rights still belong to the artist and (3)the artist may, with permission and advance notice, borrow back the piece for inclusion in a retrospective someday.

From: Anonymous — Jul 12, 2013

Had to chuckle after reading comments by Susan and Fleeta. None of their well intended suggestions would fly with my galleries and collectors. However wonderful they are, collectors will not be told what they can and cannot do with an item they purchase. However best friends I can be with the gallery owners, they will not divulge names and contact info of my collectors. In my neck of the woods hard core capitalism rules.

From: Susan Avishai — Jul 12, 2013

You’re right about galleries Anonymous, but I’ve been able to specify those requests with private sales.

  The ‘chop’ as additional security by Gary Black, Australia   Years ago I had a Chinese “chop” made of my name Gary. I had used the chop authenticating documents when I was the CEO of a dietary supplement company in New Zealand. The chop has a unique ink and the chop also has a unique style so is hard to forge. This was accepted as another “security” measure in the control of documents within the company. I am not of Chinese heritage but a mix of Irish, English and Scots. The chop design originated on a visit to Hong Kong and at the time I thought it was something different. I now use it to stamp the frame and the back of the canvas of each painting I complete. This now forms an immediate association to myself of any paintings with my name on it. A forger would have a very difficult job trying to forge the chop as well. A photocopy would have a different ink and would not have the buildup of ink that a chop gives.   Buyer beware by Virginia Giordano, New York, NY, USA  

oil painting, 18 x 18 inches
by Virginia Giordano

Fake Rothkos, Pollocks and other major works slip past knowledgeable dealers, major auction houses and collectors and sell in the tens of millions. If the fake is so good it can only be detected by x-ray or chemical analysis, what makes the original worth so much? Is it simply the name of the painter or the content of a painting? I realize this is a heretical question in the canon of masterpiece art work. (RG note) Thanks, Virginia. Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock are apparently easy painters to fake. The prudent buyer needs forensic inspection of the sort you mention. While the fake may be “just as good” as the original, this does not make it “by the hand of the master.” In the darker corners of the art market the desire to sell may exceed the desire for the truth. There are 2 comments for Buyer beware by Virginia Giordano
From: William McAllister — Jul 11, 2013

Hi Virginia,

I often hear the following comment at exhibits, especially mid of 20th Century works. “I could have done that!” My response is always the same, “That may be true, but he (or she) did – you didn’t”. That is the value of the true Rothko or Pollock. They lived the life, and worked through the painting explorations, to develop a unique and important shift in the art of their generation. The copyist has done neither. Keep painting. Bill
From: Anonymous — Jul 12, 2013

Well, a brand new car does a much better transporting job than a vintage antique car… so what’s the point of the question?

  Is authentication losing its importance? by Alev Guvenir, Istanbul, Turkey  

“Why II”
oil painting
by Alev Guvenir

If signature is revealed by strokes and other qualities, what about the new realist works? In some you cannot identify any strokes at all. Some of the contemporary work is just an assembly of technology. Maybe authentication is losing importance and it is the idea that counts. However, idea has a very short life. If one can think of something, there is always another person, in some part of the world who has thought about it before. (RG note) Thanks, Alev. Indeed, strokeless and other flat work is tougher to analyze. Work produced by mechanical means — and there is lots of it nowadays — is even more difficult for mere humans to decipher. As long as big bucks are pursuing authentic works of any sort, forensic authentication will be necessary.

  Forgery a part of the story by Sandy Davison, Lansing, MichiganI, USA  

“Toll Gate Wetlands, First Pond”
pastel painting
by Sandy Davison

Some Rembrandts have been mostly removed from his oeuvre. “Man in the Gold Helmet” is an example. Rembrandt was ego driven — you can tell by his fabulous marks that he wants his “umph” to be seen — but he was overall more interested in things other than things. In this painting, like a few other Rembrandt wannabees, the emphasis is on the helmet without the same passionate treatment of the sentiment or story. One painting that has been removed from his work and slightly belies the above (though not much), is one of great streaming light falling in an ornate window and a small figure greatly reduced in significance artistically. I concur with a great, and dead, art faker who saw closely the mark making and this indeed looks like the hand of Rembrandt — and the sentiment is his. But it’s been on and off the list of his work and is now considered by those who make such pronouncements to be off. It’s another interesting part of the art forgery biz, the politics of the experts. They can be and are swayed through peer pressure, payments and positioning. Work goes on the artist’s oeuvre when the market for her work is hot, but too hot and it ups the ante for art experts to denounce work to keep the price points of those who already have the limited production of dead artists. At least with your work, Robert, the dealer could go right to the horse’s mouth and your reputation can be spared its inclusion. I wonder how often you have this occur, and when it started to happen. Was faking Genns something that began recently? How can one know such things? Does it occur after one’s work reaches a secondary market? Level of saturation among buyers? Randomly when another artist with skills to do so but without recognition sees it as a path (deHory, John Myatt, Ken Perenyi)? Or, like Eric Hebborn, a great big “sod off” to the business and game of art? Like all things in the human realm, art forgery seems to be part of the story, part of the push and pull and invention and neglect of our species in action. (RG note) Thanks, Sandra. Forgery commences when an artist’s prices edge higher, whether the artist is dead or alive.    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Spotting a fake

From: Mike Barr — Jul 08, 2013

I think if you are having other artists fake your art – you’ve arrived!

From: Lynette Blake — Jul 09, 2013

Thanks for the insightful comments on spotting fakes. I appreciate your advice to sign on the back. I have wanted to do this, but have been stopped by the decision on what to use. I’m concerned that a marker (a first thought) would gradually eat away at the canvas. I have settled on putting that info on the primed edge of the canvas that wraps around to the back of the stretcher bars. What do you recommend to sign the back that is safe?

Thanks for all your great e-letters!
From: Ron Unruh — Jul 09, 2013

Robert, I can see immediately that the skies and water are not characteristic of your minimalist strokes. They are far too busy in this painting. Had I seen this at auction, I may not have concluded that it was a fake because I don’t customarily think like that, but I may have decided this was one of your earliest efforts or a bad day. May I ask a question? In one sentence in your commentary you said, “From my cocky perspective and years of looking at other artists’ works, both ancient and modern, I believe I can tell the approximate age of many artists at the time of painting.” I am not concerned whether you have acquired a self-asured perspective after years of experience, but I am curious about the clues to a painter’s age at the time of painting. Please enlighten me.

From: Sandra Taylor Hedges — Jul 09, 2013

These are definitely the work of two different artist. The only other possibility is that there is another Robert Genn artist, it happens, you should see how many Sandra Taylor’s there are out there. I am always receiving photos asking if I painted this painting. For this reason I added my married name to the end of my signature, it also helps in Google search as well.

From: Jackie Knott — Jul 09, 2013

Yeah, what Ron Unruh asked ….

From: Patricia Elliott Seitz — Jul 09, 2013

Hello Robert,

I was contacted a few months ago regarding the same issue from a gallery. They had a piece that they thought I had painted. It’s a double edged sword, to have your work copied. All the Best, Patricia
From: Dwight — Jul 09, 2013

Yes, having you work copied is a compliment of sorts. A compliment of lesser value, but still worth a spot on a resume’ is having your work stolen out of an exhibit. This happened to me twice years ago. I suppose the real problem there is gallery security.

From: Damon Stacey — Jul 09, 2013

Looking over your dealer’s websites, I see that “Bald Indian Bay” the title of the fake, is also the title of one of your recently sold works. The faker used your title to help a half-hearted attempt to imitate your style.

From: Peter Seligman — Jul 09, 2013

I knew Lord Longbottom and he was a name dropper too. Har har!

From: Fred Grewal — Jul 09, 2013

Robert’s work is now fairly expensive so it is worthwhile for bogus painters to try to fool people with counterfeits. It will only get worse.

From: Janice & Klaus Vogel — Jul 09, 2013

I found this letter very interesting and as you so aptly point out, “The signature is in the stroke,” especially when it comes to your paintings. You have a very consistent and recognizable painting style. Even our kids, at the age of 10, could walk into a gallery and say, “Hey, that’s a Robert Genn.” Perhaps the forger hoped that by dating it back so far, he could claim you had a different style at that time, but it wasn’t really very smart.

Senden-Bösensell, Germany
From: Tom Plummer — Jul 09, 2013

We bought a painting years ago, not thinking that it was by some well-known artist, but because it made a nice decorative piece. Over the years, it did not wear well. It was of a boy with a fishing rod, and something about the boy’s face annoyed us. One day we found the original–in the Belvedere Palace in Vienna. The fake wasn’t even close to the original.

From: David MacSmith — Jul 09, 2013

This faker should be charged with Assault with a Deadly Brush.

From: Anne Sete — Jul 09, 2013

In viewing the writing on the back of the authentic painting . . . what did you write with (permanent marker, pencil, charcoal, other) ? I am painting on linen primed with oil based primer and sometimes cotton duck with acrylic primer. I am concerned, as I do not want the writing on the back of the painting to bleed through.

From: Stella Reinwald — Jul 09, 2013

This is so very bad. I wonder if it is not simply that there is another Robert Genn out there in the world, who doesn’t even know about you. It’s hard to believe anyone could think they were imitating you with those ‘brushstrokes”. . . It looks as if it were painted with a spatula. Come to think of it, I could have come closer with a small spatula than this person did.

From: L.A. Guy — Jul 09, 2013

Well done. If we, the artists had standards, (everybody know what a ROLEX is), and I mean high standard steps which compares a craft leisure painter to a professional one, then perhaps fake art from CHINA or wherever would not infiltrate so easy.

We love to pay cheap for everything, from the dollar store’s spoon to the fake tableau on our walls. There is no story or education told to the people to describe what takes hours to do by one professional person and what takes 5 minutes. I see it all the time as I am a plein air painter. Those who stop to ask questions want to know how long it took me to do what they see.
From: Elle Fagan — Jul 09, 2013

I am spending part of my winter learning how to get paid for art spy work – art detective is in my background (ask me for details – the classified name is long removed from my little bit). It seems I really could serve others and myself well adding art detective to my art skills offerings.

From: Mary Moquin — Jul 09, 2013

Oh, that’s dreadful, what a poor attempt to knock you off! I would cringe if I came across such a poor painting with my signature forged. Ugh. It makes me want to come up with some sort of trick to make mine authentic, perhaps prick my finger and sign with blood so my DNA can be proven, LOL! (I think that has been done). I’m just appalled.

From: Janet Summers — Jul 09, 2013

Richard Pousette-Dart whom I was most fortunate to study with for two years always said your style is your signature. That was way back in 1979 and now years later this is even more true. My personal style, composition, subject, colors and brush work have served me well all these years as my signature. I have often run across a “copy” of one of my paintings but the details, colors, style and execution have never come even close to the real painting and I was flattered and amused at the attempt made. In the technological era we are experiencing with internet exposure, social media etc. copying is rampant but the mature artist who’s works shine with originality and personal style shouldn’t be annoyed but take it as a compliment that others regard their work so highly that they want to copy it, after-all I copied the Masters when I was a student!! Artistic knowledge should be shared and if copying is a learning process so be it. Forgery however by experienced forgers should not be tolerated.

From: Lena Leszczynski — Jul 09, 2013

The fake Genn gives itself away by its lack of well-considered negative space, which I feel is a primary feature of Robert Genn’s painting.

From: John Koehler — Jul 09, 2013

Thanks for your info on framing and matting. I watched a program on PBS last night about Princess Diana’s family home, it was beautiful and very informative. Her brother gave a tour of the home and I took notice of the portraits and their frames. The early ones had gaudier and guilded frames. As time passed the frames became more subdued, more like the ones we use to day.

From: Gloria Ainsworth-Mout — Jul 09, 2013

I notice a messy sky right off the bat-definitely not yours!

From: Barbara Callow — Jul 09, 2013

That is definitively not your painting, but you already know that. I’ve seen your earlier paintings and even some of the early ones and they were much better than that muddy contraption and in a slightly different style. Boo to the copiers!!!!

From: Ron Wilson — Jul 09, 2013

Fake – it lacks that certain something, OR it could be Bob’s juvenalia…

From: Margaret Fortune — Jul 09, 2013

Thank you Robert, for this and all of the twice-weekly letters you send to me. They are informative, amusing and encouraging. I want you to know that you are appreciated and I feel that you keep me going when I might get discouraged by those temporary “artistic empty dark places”. It’s helpful to know that we are not isolated and have all shared similar places in our journey. You have great insight and helpful tips.

From: Mike Barr — Jul 09, 2013

The painting looks nothing like a genuine Robert Genn and more like someone who has just recently taken up the brush.

From: Phil Chadwick — Jul 10, 2013

I guess I would be honoured to have someone fake my style! After all “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” It would be an indication that I have arrived as an artist to have someone forge my name on something that I didn’t do. At that point the name is more important than the image. The collection of Robert’s wealthy friends included Van Gogh, Klimt, Munch, Van Dongen and Klee. What about a Genn or even a Chadwick? What about having a patron before you die?

This fakery would add credibility to everything that I actually do. I photograph, chronicle and blog every piece of art so spotting a fake would not be too challenging even though I am now up to 1315 works (I am aiming for 3000). Such an all encompassing record is a rare thing in the art world but for me it was important to chronicle the journey and not just the destination. For the time being each painting that finds a new home on someone else’s wall does so because of its own merit and not the name. Have I arrived as an artist? Well it depends where I wanted to go. Don’t expect me to cut off an ear or ‘drown’ from my canoe after being slugged in the temple. I am having too much fun.
From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jul 10, 2013

For some of us (artists) cheap is all we can pay- sorry-

How long did that take? is THE question- for me- it’s weeks/months not hours/days. And I’ve bloodied almost every piece just by the nature of my tools- pins and needles- But I’m sorry Robert- because every single one of us hopes to become a big enough name that we can one day afford to just do the work- instead of working for money doing something else- or starving. Having said that- one should never buy art one does not love- named or not. Art is so much more than just an investment.
From: Alexi Smidova — Jul 10, 2013

We are living in dishonest times when morals worldwide have slipped. Or maybe it’s just the case that this sort of fraud can so much more easily be spotted than before. The internet brings Toronto, Ontario so much closer to Vancouver, B. C. Without the internet and email an auctioneer might have just let it slip under the rug and sell it and no one would have known. All the more reason for artists, venues and galleries to work together and be connected.

From: Katarina Ögård — Jul 10, 2013

I would like to know, what kind of pen do you use (or can use) to sign on the back of a painting? To sign on the back is a very good idea, but what can one use?

Kotka, Finland
From: Margaret Gray — Jul 10, 2013

Mr. Genn: It’s hard to believe anyone in their right mind could believe u painted that horrible looking mess.

From: Dick Gregory — Jul 10, 2013

This is outright fraud. It would be different if the poor quality imitator had not attempted to sign your name, but he or she has. The auctioneer needs to forward to you the name of the person who is trying to peddle the fake. Maybe you already know it. The faker needs to know that there will be serious consequences if you decide to press charges. More than anything it is in the auctioneer’s interest to start the ball rolling because this sort of thing requires police action at his end.

From: Interested Reader — Jul 11, 2013

Just wondering why you showed a recent work of yours in comparison with the fake, which is dated “1962.” I would like to have seen the fake compared with a work of yours actually created in 1962.

I enjoy your columns. But one more suggestion: I think a caveat is in order when recommending that people sign the back of their paintings. inscriptions on the reverse of a canvas can work their way to the front of the image years later. As a conservator who works for both museums and private clients, I have personally seen and treated paintings where lettering on the reverse came forward in relief on the paint surface. Cracks can form in a paint film at points of stress many years after pressure is exerted. Also, certain inks can bleed, and some can accelerate the deterioration of fibers.
From: Janet Sheen — Jul 11, 2013

I noted several responders asked about what pen/medium you used to sign on the back of the canvas. For me when I prep a canvas with gesso I create a gesso rectangle on the back usually in the same number of layers of gesso. ( I have been known to also do this with light acrylic paint if I forgot). I use the box to mark in oil paint the title of the piece, the medium, my dating/inventory code and my name in full – all printed. Then I oil paint my signature like the one used on the front. My framer has commented several times how pleasant to have a reference for his work orders to double check when I take several pieces in at the same time. Bleed through is not a problem, nor is accidently having dark information show through a fairly light or transparent passage on the front. Yes, it gets covered with brown paper – but it is still there for as long as the painting survives!

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Jul 12, 2013

That is a pretty bad painting! There is no art here, just daubing. How could the auctioneer even imagine it was one of your paintings? Where is the joie de vivre, the play against aerial perspective, and the variety among types of strokes? The fake trees float on lily pads, the scudding clouds seem like a bad paving job, and the setting sun looks like margarine on toast. Thanks for the opportunity to rag on a bad painting!

From: Horace — Jul 12, 2013

Wow, so much stone throwing at this painting…I have seen much worse stuff in galleries and even in secondary market auctions with reputable dealers…it’s an ok painting and would probably get sold if the scam wasn’t detected.

From: Alan Powell — Jul 12, 2013

Once people find out it’s a fake they start dumping on it. Once they find out it’s authentic they find things to praise about it. It’s human nature.

From: kenneth flitton — Jul 13, 2013

Any fool could tell that the painting is a fake Robert Genn. it has none of his adept brushstrokes apart from other things too numerous to mention.

From: David Lloyd Glover — Jul 14, 2013

With the ease of communication the internet provides, I have been receiving correspondence from my collectors, new and old on a variety of topics. Some need some advice or new buyers sometimes are looking for authentication. Included with the legitimate authentications are often fakes. I am always surprised that someone would take the time to forge my work as opposed to a famous dead master. Unfortunately I have to break it to the person that indeed they are not in possession of a genuine original or print by me but rather its a knock off. The saddest situation was when I was contacted by an insurance adjuster who wanted me to authenticate from a photo, a painting that his claimant wanted replaced. She was an elderly woman who received a painting by me as a gift from her late husband. Her home had recently burned almost entirely to the ground and she wanted her lost painting to be restored. The painting was a fake unfortunately. I told the adjuster as much. Later the woman called me and hoped that I would be able to recreate the painting. She said she was fighting it out with her insurance company but I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her original lost painting was never genuine. It bothered me so much I later decided to just send her a painting gratis and hope that she would recover from her loss. Unfortunately she had moved and the phone number I had was no longer good. disconnected.

    Featured Workshop: Valerie Kent 071213_robert-genn Valerie Kent Workshops Held in English Lakes District, UK   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.     woa


oil painting by Ken Auster, Laguna Beach, CA, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Bernadine Fox of Vancouver, BC, Canada, who wrote, “When I had a hairy dog who deposited fur constantly, I often joked that they would eventually authenticate my paintings by doing DNA processing of the dog hair in it. It was a joke. But I do think that these types of advances will ultimately find their way into the art world and we will have new ways to authenticate the veracity of an artist’s work.” And also David MacSmith of Denison, TX, USA, who wrote, “Your faker should be charged with Assault with a Deadly Brush.” And also Bev Rodin of Willowdale, ON, Canada, who wrote, “I paint in series so I understand having related works. But I never try to duplicate a piece but always make what I hope is an improvement.” And also David Blanchard of Sunnyvale, CA, USA, who wrote, “You need to realize that collecting is not really about art, or Pez Dispensers, or whatever. Collecting is about collecting.”    

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