ART matters Update: Authenticity in a world of forgery

10 Nov 2016
The Collyer Bristow LLP review of ART LAW issues
Collyer Bristow
  LinkedIn   Twitter  
Authenticity in a world of forgery
The profession of art forgery spans well over 2000 years and a recent scandal at Sotheby’s serves only to remind us that it remains alive and well to this day. Frans Hals’s Portrait of An Unknown Man is the subject of the most recent scandal and has been attributed to the infamous and ever elusive ‘Moriarty of fakers’.

A coined ‘Old Master’, Portrait of An Unknown Man was sold by Sotheby’s in 2011 for £8.4 million. Following technical analysis earlier this year however, the paint was revealed to contain synthetic material dating from the 20th century and proved to be a forgery. While Sotheby’s has yet to release a full report, it has accepted the analysis and has rescinded the sale and refunded the purchaser the full cost. Sotheby’s could face a long and arduous battle with seller Mark Weiss, who is refusing to accept the technical findings or to reimburse the famous auction house for the cost of the sale. Other works sold by Weiss are now being called into question and may face similar technical analysis to determine authenticity.

So who is the real villain behind the paintbrush and how can we prevent these sacrifices on the altar of authenticity? The cloak of private sales, lost paperwork and secretive collectors can contribute to forgeries passing unnoticed into the art world. Bendor Grosvenor, an art historian and dealer specialising in Old Masters, stresses the value of provenance and states that while it cannot prove authorship absolutely, it can be pivotal in distinguishing genuine period pieces from modern forgeries.

If you have any questions about the above article or are concerned with a recent or future purchase, please do get in touch with one of our experienced team who will be happy to help you.
Welcome to Collyer Bristow's Art matters, our newsletter covering all aspects of art law. For further information please visit our page on Art and Cultural Property.
For further information please contact:
Steven Heffer
Partner and Head of Arts and Culture
+44 (0)20 7468 7211
Email Steven
Howard Ricklow
Partner - Commercial Services
+44 (0)20 7468 7231
Email Howard
Mette Marie Sutton
Associate - Intellectual Property
+44 (0)20 7470 4412
Email Mette
Alicia Williams
Paralegal - Commercial Services
+44 (0)20 7468 7236
Email Alicia
Alice Glendenning
+44 (0)20 7470 4461
Email Alice
Follow Collyer Bristow on Twitter...
Follow Collyer Bristow on LinkedIn...
Disclaimer: The content of this newsletter is provided for general information only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Appropriate legal or other professional opinion should be taken before taking or omitting to take any action in respect of any specific problem. Collyer Bristow LLP accepts no liability for any loss or damage which may arise from reliance on information contained in this newsletter.

Collyer Bristow LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England under number OC318532, registered office 4 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4TF, and is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 441900. Any reference to a partner means a member of the LLP or an employee with equivalent standing and qualifications. A list of the members is available for inspection at the above address. Collyer Bristow LLP is Lexcel accredited.

Copyright © 2016 Collyer Bristow LLP



Additional information