March 24

Art Print Crooks Case Cracked – Will They Ever Learn?

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Art Print Crooks Case Cracked – Will They Ever Learn?

It seems like there is an unending interest in prints by Dali, Picasso, Chagall, Miro and Warhol. So much so, that folks flock like sheep to slaughter to keep buying phony copies of them.

It seems like there is an unending interest in prints by Dali, Picasso, Chagall, Miro and Warhol. So much so, that folks flock like sheep to slaughter to keep buying phony copies of them. And, if they are not buying outright fakes, many are getting duped on cruise ship auctions and overpaying for art that is not collectible. At least not at the inflated prices the auctions charge if you side with those in the $200 million class action suit filed on behalf of art buyers on cruise lines.

New Arrests Shed Light on the Shady Business of Fake Fine Art Prints

In the past week, there has been a slew of news reports of a newly cracked caper of crooks peddling fake prints. I have to ask, did no one learn anything from last year’s sensational reports on the $20 million fraud, forgery and income tax evasion case of Kristine Eubanks and Gerald Sullivan?  These now convicted felons managed to sell fakes for years over a cable television program they managed, called Fine Art Treasures. Their source for making the fakes was one of the first full-time and most heavily advertised professional giclee printing studios in the industry; an operation they founded.

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Here is part of a typical news item on the latest round of crooks being caught from Bloomberg:

U.S. Indicts Seven for Selling Fake Picassos, Warhols

March 19 (Bloomberg) — Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Andy Warhol were among artists whose works were counterfeited by seven people indicted for two art-fraud schemes that reaped a combined $5 million.

Those charged include three Europeans and residents of New York, Florida and Illinois, Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said today in a statement. They sold thousands of fake prints in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan and Europe, he alleged.

Is it Time to Stop Limiting Giclées?

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This latest barrage of news about con men duping honest folks in yet another ongoing art swindle leads me back to a long-held premise, i.e., let’s stop limiting giclees. I had several posts on this subject last year, including The Double Entendre of the Artist Selling Out and Is Giclée Passé?  There are plenty of other arguments for this decision besides the facts that limited editions can be easily be manipulated by crooks using signed and numbered pieces to jack up prices of fake copies. Read some of the links to get those thoughts. Feel free to chime in with your own on the comments section below.

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About the Author

I help artists and photographers find buyers, sell more art and operate profitably.

Barney Davey

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  1. Almost any kind of visual artwork with a flat surface can be faked with modern technology. The fact of forgery is no argument against limited editions. It makes sense for many producers not only artists to edit limited editions : cars, lighters,cameras and so on. All these could be produced in unlimited open editions. But then these editions would be much less attractive for collectors. In other words limited editions are in the interest of both sides producers and buyers. Both of them gain something. Therefore also limited editions of glicee prints make sense for artists and collectors under the provision that the artist is following a codex of artistic practise i.e. to inform his collectors about all material aspects of his work in full and in a proper way.

  2. As a photographer, I have resisted imposing limited editioning on my work. There are many reasons, but one in particular today is technology changing, as well as my skill as a print maker.

    If I limit a particular print to say 250, and my printing equipment and printing knowledge advance well before 250 are retired – why would I want to keep printing the same version over and over again?

    I doubt that most photographers ever hit their edition limit anyway, so it really boils down to trying to extract more money for not a lot of value.

  3. @Mark
    a limited edition is always printed in one job and not copy by copy as potential buyers might request over a longer period of time. This implies certain risks for the editor. He has to finance the production and takes the risk of the sales. In other words the artist and editor will usually only do limited editions of extraordinary quality of work.
    Buying from a “limited series” (mostly from POD company)which is produced piece by piece is a complete different thing and I would not recommend it. Limited (POD)series are NO limited editions !!!

  4. This aint over yet! There is a new site with information on ART FRAUD that is related to this. http://www.art-fraud.org There are pictures of the fake Picasso, Dali, Chagall, Miro etc. I guess it was mostly lithographs, etchings and giclees although I guess a Calder sculpture was faked too.

  5. This aint over yet! There is a new site with information on ART FRAUD that is related to this. http://www.art-fraud.org There are pictures of the fake Picasso, Dali, Chagall, Miro etc. I guess it was mostly lithographs, etchings and giclees although I guess a Calder sculpture was faked too.

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