Friday, December 8, 2023

Authenticating Art: Current Problems and Proposed Solutions

College Art Association Panel:

When it comes to art, “Is it real?” is a question that interests everyone from casual museum-goers to arts professionals. Answering the question can involve historical research, connoisseurship, sophisticated scientific analysis, and more. The question, however, is not only an academic or philosophical one. (Is a Warhol a “Warhol” if the artist himself never touched it?) In an art market where millions—and sometimes tens of millions—can hang in the balance, who is willing to risk being wrong in offering an opinion about authenticity? For those who do offer opinions and even warranties, what are they risking, and what—if anything—should they be risking? What of those who create fakes?  More information on the CAA Panel here.


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  • I wrote about a very recent New York case that explores these issues on my site. The case concerned the question of whether a court can compel an artist’s foundation to authenticate a work. The case is Thome v. Alexander & Louisa Calder Foundation, 2009 WL 425559 (1st Dept 2009). My post can be found at

    One of the interesting aspects of the case is that the foundation refused to give an artwork’s owner an answer either way. The court ultimately found for the foundation, but did not reach the question of whether the foundation’s actions could constitute the tort of product disparagement.

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