Trials & Litigation

Litigation Fears Could Lead to Increased Artistic Fakery

Fear of litigation is spurring some art experts to get out of the business of evaluating art work to determine whether it is genuine.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and the Noguchi Museum are no longer authenticating artwork, the New York Times reports. Litigation isn’t new, but the amount of money at stake is rising along with prices for works of art, the story says.

Some of the fear stems from a disclosure last year by the Warhol Foundation that it spent $7 million defending itself in litigation over rejection of a silk screen for a “catalogue raisonné,” a definitive compendium of an artist’s work.

“While some argue the fear is overblown,” the Times says, “others warn the growing reluctance to speak publicly about authenticity could keep forgeries and misattributed works in circulation while permitting newly discovered works to go unrecognized.”

The fears are changing the catalogues raisonnés, the story says. The Lichtenstein Foundation and the Noguchi Museum now put their cataloging online and call it a work in progress. The Calder Foundation has eliminated sculptor Alexander Calder’s catalogue raisonné and opted for an online guide. “You determine if your work is fake or not with the data we present,” foundation chairman Alexander Rower tells the Times.

Rower says his foundation will evaluate and give out information about a possible Calder at an owner’s request, but it does not authenticate.

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