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Spotting fakes

When Bob Tickler emailed me to say he was in negotiation to buy a lithograph by Marc Chagall, I advised him to be careful as the market is awash with fakes. With modern techniques you can produce a replica which even the most discerning of art expert would have difficulty in recognising as a forgery. Even a signature does not always help. Salvation Dali signed blank pieces of paper whilst Chagall, apparently the nicest and most generous of men, would sign a dedication for a friend on a previously unsigned lithograph. Bob is for example buying a lithograph of which there are 10,000 unsigned ones and only 75 signed ones. At least consult a recognised collection of Chagall to see if it is there and obtain a guarantee from the dealer.

A New York chiropractor lost $80,000 on fakes from a gallery whose owners disappeared. Even such luminaries as Bernard Berensen had their considerable reputations reduced by falsifying authentications. In Berensen’s case he had a covert agreement entitling him to 25% of the commission for the sale of a picture from leading art dealer Claude Duveen, a conflict of interest that was never disclosed.

chagall2I recommended a price for Bob which he obtained. His lithograph with the rich contains the colours and symbols of Chagall, his beloved wife Bella, the rooster (he grew up in such poverty he slept on the floor with chickens) the violin and anyone looking at it would assume it is a Chagall. It’s a murky unregulated world and, as I always say, if it gives you pleasure on your wall that is the main consideration.

About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts