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The Fake Art Industry Is Booming Online

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If you’re selling fake art online, this really is a golden age.

This is especially true if you are selling paintings attributed to famous artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring or Jean-Michel Basquiat, as in 2012 both the Basquiat Estate and the Keith Haring Foundation stopped authenticating works. To complicate matters further, the Andy Warhol Foundation’s longstanding policy, according to a spokesman, is that it “[does not] Give opinions on artworks claiming to be by Andy Warhol.”

While it’s bad news for potential buyers, it’s great news for dodgy sellers. With little authority overseeing them, you are essentially alone in determining whether or not an artwork is fake. This is a problem on platforms like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon – all of which rely primarily on complaints to identify problem sellers. Because platforms make money from completed transactions, they have no incentive to actively review their art listings. Judging by the Number of sales per year, these platforms can make hundreds of thousands if not millions in fees every year. Why on earth would they cancel these transactions?

In search of passive revenue streams, many sellers don’t even have physical inventory – they use “print-on-demand” services such as Best to print which are also connected to Shopify, Etsy, and eBay, making it remarkably easy to set up an online store. A seller only needs to upload pictures and then advertise the shop online. The platform does the rest – including printing and shipping the actual article. As a result, the Keith Haring “poster” you’re getting cheap might just be a print.

Some scammers mislead buyers by using art terminology to make it appear that they are selling an actual painting or print when in fact they are not. Because the intentional sale of fakes and counterfeit art is illegal, most include language in their description to give them plausible denial in case they are caught selling fakes. Of course, some sellers throw all caution to the wind and outright claim that their item is authentic.

Below are some examples of counterfeit items being sold with misleading offers.

“Prints” marketed on Etsy (all screenshots Chris Cobb/Hyperallergic)

Catalog pages marketed as prints

Unlikely as it sounds, there are quite a few low-effort sellers hoping to issue pages from art books or exhibition catalogs as “vintage prints.” One such example on eBay was a now-removed ‘autographed’ print of Keith Haring’s Portrait of Grace Jones. From the title alone one would assume this is an authentic print by Haring. The photos showed the signature and a Certificate of Authenticity (COA). Suspiciously, however, the COA listed a date of 2002, not by the Haring Foundation but by the seller himself. The piece was a bookplate removed from its original publication and presented to the artist for a so-called compliment signature – as in “with the compliments of the artist” – usually for admirers, gallery owners, exhibition openings or friends, similar to an autograph. The signature as such does not come from a limited numbered edition.

When asked about its authenticity, the seller, who went by Gallery-100, cryptically replied, “This type of art has no history to base provenance on. Therefore, it is impossible to say with certainty that Keith Haring signed the piece.”

I bought the piece because I thought it was hand signed by Keith Haring,” they added.

However, it is still offered as a vintage print signed by the artist. Or are they just claiming that the signature is genuine? A certificate of authenticity from a seller who cannot verify the authenticity of what they are selling is of no value. The only function such a document can serve is to deceive people who don’t know any better. You could take a chance and buy it for $169.99 or the best deal. (At the time, this seller was offering 83 similar book pages, all of which we have to believe were signed by Haring and Warhol—but with no proof.)

eBay’s politics expressly states that users should refrain from listing works if they have any doubts about their authenticity. Of course, eBay doesn’t actively monitor its auction listings, instead relying on dealers, collectors, experts, buyers, and potential buyers to notify them of issues related to specific artworks. Oh well.

Brazenly fake paintings

An alleged Basquiat on eBay

Fake paintings are constantly being offered in eBay auctions. In March, an alleged Basquiat original was listed for $199,000, or best offer. The description was ridiculously vague, but hit on important points — notably listing the work’s provenance as “a collector who died in 2013” — without providing evidence or evidence. When asked for proof of the painting’s authenticity, the seller said he had “contacted Christie’s but have had no luck so far and that’s why the artwork is being listed on eBay.” Impatient with my questions, the seller stopped responding.

Basquiat works are sold online

The truth is that anyone can make a copy of a painting, add a fake signature and sell it as the “original”. Another powerful seller of fakes, eBay users raulrisco0 offers counterfeit paintings by Botero, Haring, Basquiat and Van Gogh, among others. To his credit, when confronted with their authenticity, he replied: “I want to be honest with you, I found these paintings in a warehouse, I don’t know if they are original or not.”

This answer, of course, is a perfect example of wanting to maintain plausible denial. At the same time, he admits that the paintings may not be real, leaving potential buyers to fantasize that they might be. Plausible denial is a legal gray area that many buyers have become accustomed to. We see it all the time on shows like Antiques Roadshow, Pawn Stars, and American Pickers, where people are celebrated for recognizing a diamond in the rough. However, scammers take advantage of the fact that everyone wants to win the lottery.

Print on demand canvas prints

An Etsy user’s shop

An Etsy user stopping by canvas gallery door sold images advertised as works by Banksy and Haring, among others. All canvas prints are available in sizes ranging from 8 x 12 ($30) to 38 x 63 inches ($237). When I messaged the user asking if the works were genuine and if they were from an authorized or licensed dealer, they replied, “I make high-resolution images on the internet. Keith has given permission to reproduce the photos on his website. My customers are very satisfied with the products.”

The seller appears to be based in Turkey, but that of the Haring Foundation website clearly states that the Keith Haring Studio owns the international copyright in all work created by the artist and “his artwork may not be reproduced in any way without the express written permission of the Haring Studio”. Needless to say, it is highly unlikely that Keith Haring gave this user permission to produce unlimited printed canvas prints of his work that sell for next to nothing on Etsy.

In such cases, the damage does not hit the buyer here, but the owners of the rights to Haring’s work. When unscrupulous vendors steal artists’ work, they take money out of the artist’s pocket, or in this case, the Keith Haring Studio.

Reproductions of exhibition posters

Many sellers reprint exhibition posters.

Similar to print-on-demand canvas suppliers from Haring, Etsy sellers LaCedilleQuiSourit offers several pages of reproductions of famous exhibition posters. When I asked about a classic poster published by the Whitney Museum, the Etsy seller responded by trying to bribe me with a free print:

“Hello – as stated throughout the website these are facsimiles which I am rescuing, digitising, retouching and sharing. If you are interested in the file to print yourself, let me know and I will be happy to send it to you free of charge and without obligation; This project is more about sharing with fellow enthusiasts than anything else!”

Despite this user’s apparent passion for the concept of democratizing access to art, they charge for the copies. Posters range from $22.45 to $57.68 depending on size. In most cases, it’s not legal to reprint copyrighted works without permission from the copyright owner—even if you state they’re copies. In fact, there is a name for this practice: piracy.

That Shill Bid Scam

Since eBay allows fully private bidding, it is difficult to discern the practice of schill bidding. “Shill bidding” is when a dishonest seller uses multiple accounts to make it appear as if multiple people are bidding on an item. When a potential buyer sees bidders competing for an artwork, that fabricated interest lends them an air of legitimacy and authenticity.

With a fake account, a seller can win their own auction for a low price – and even leave positive feedback! Unfortunately, eBay’s Schill bidding policy also comes in handy:

“If you think another member is bidding unfairly, you don’t need to report it to us. eBay has a number of systems in place to identify and monitor bidding patterns and practices. If we identify malicious behavior, we will take steps to prevent it,” reads a expression on the company’s website.

At the end of the day is the art auction system designed Make money, don’t lose money. The big auction houses and marketplaces tend to be more diligent about vetting sellers, but even then – unless someone can prove something is genuine, remember to ask questions and do your own research. As always – buyers beware!

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Your Concise New York Art Guide for December 2022

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The holiday season is a time of relaxation and reflection. Whatever your tradition, at Hyperallergic we hope you find some time to recharge and appreciate what matters most. If you’re looking for something to see, New York still thrives with activity at borough museums and galleries. Our December highlights include art created during the first stock market crash, a tribute to cat lovers and the 10th anniversary of a major public arts initiative. See you in 2023!

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Shandaken Projects: 10th Anniversary Benefit Exhibition

Installation view from Shandaken Projects: 10th Anniversary Benefit Exhibition (courtesy of Shandaken Projects)

Shandaken Projects was originally founded as a defense of artists against art market problems and rapid gentrification. Since 2012, they have worked to build sustainable studio spaces and implement free public programs including poster initiatives, printmaking workshops and residencies at the Storm King Art Center. Their 10th anniversary show is therefore cause for celebration as all proceeds will go towards next year’s programme. More than 140 mixed media works are exhibited by alumni of all ages and show the path of a young institution with a bright future.

Shandaken Projects (shandakenprojects.org)
Building 9, Governors Island
Until December 14th


Marjolijn De Wit: Sorry for the damage

Marjolijn De Wit, “Fizz” (2022) (Photo by Etienne Frossard, Courtesy the artist and Asya Geisberg Gallery)

With all the attention to fossil fuel investments in the art world, Marjolijn De Wit’s latest series should both charm and frustrate. sorry for the damage turns elitist apologies on their head and brings together symbols of wealth and beautiful scenes of nature. Butterflies, diamonds and plated dishes flutter and soar in wooded settings – all achieved through the juxtaposition of advertisements and editorial photography National graphic magazines. Here De Wit shows the true value of what we produce and how many suffer for it.

Gallery Asya Geisberg (www.asyageisberggallery.com)
537 West 23rd Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Until December 17th


Tom Uttech: Headwind on Windigoostigwan

Tom Uttech, “Nin Pipigwe” (2022) (Courtesy Alexandre Gallery)

Rather than claiming the wilderness for himself, 80-year-old painter Tom Uttech presents it as it is. Uttech captures what he calls the “quiet ecstasy” of the Ojibwe countries now known as Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada. But while the owner has been forcibly changed, many of its protectors remain – the swirling night sky, lonely bears and flowing rivers. Presented in handcrafted wood grain frames, Uttech brings out the subtle tones of the region he knows best and encourages us to reflect on the meaning of home.

Gallery Alexandre (alexandregallery.com)
291 Grand Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Until December 22nd


Sophia-Yemisi Adeyemo: Earth & Iron: Archival Visions of Land and Struggle

Sophia-Yemisi Adeyemo, “Bloodroot and Machetes; As We Learn to Be Sharpened (No es un Lecho de Rosas)” (2022) (courtesy of the artist and BRIC)

Sophia-Yemisi Adeyemo presents the colonized memory as a broken space, using a cut-up method to accentuate the gaps. Based on 20th-century photographs from West Africa and the Caribbean, Adeyemo’s sparse paintings and sculptures transform scenes of submission into fragments of guerrilla escape. Machetes and assault rifles are camouflaged by flora and fauna, punctuated by portraits of black and indigenous families staring straight at the viewer. In front of the sterile white walls, Adeyemo presents a salon of rebellion that directly meets the colonial gaze.

BRICS (bricartsmedia.org)
647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Until December 23rd


Even a cat can look at the queen

Philip Hinge, Keep Me Safe (2022) (Photo by Olympia Shannon, courtesy of Mrs.)

Cats were never really known to obey orders. Rather, their lack of discipline is part of their mysticism. Accordingly, a new group show at Mrs. draws on a long tradition of trying and failing to impose our will on feline disobedience. Sculptures of black cats are reminiscent of ancient Egyptian depictions of the Deity Bastetwhile paintings made of rubbish and furniture on the many (many) domestic sacrifices we make for them. The 39 artists presented themselves together Even a cat can look at the queen show that total control is an illusion – a valuable lesson for all of us.

Woman. (mrsgallery.com)
60-40 56th Drive, Maspeth, Queens
Until January 7, 2023


Just enough: New perspectives from 12 photographers from Magnum

Sabiha Çimen, “Students playing with a color smoke bomb during a picnic event” (2017) from the series Hafiz (courtesy of the artist, Magnum Photos and the International Center of Photography)

The ICP’s latest group exhibition examines the contributions of women to Magnum Photos around the world and features 12 contemporaries from three generations. Sabiha Çimen’s playful portraits of Muslim matriarchs stand alongside Alessandra Sanguinetti’s documentation of the aging process in rural Argentina. Meanwhile, Susan Meiselas’ images of abused British women reveal the innate violence within patriarchal society. As Magnum undergoes a significant re-evaluation of its archives, Near enough is a step forward in changing historical omissions.

International Center for Photography (icp.org)
79 Essex Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Until January 9, 2023


Grace Nkem: What we do

Grace Nkem, “Ghosts & Cloister” (2022) (courtesy of the artist and gallery particulier)

Grace Nkem’s powerful compositions present a culture in transition. Ancient artifacts and human remains are depicted in European monasteries, suggesting a repatriation. Meanwhile, a white man showing a black woman’s portrait as a “trophy” signals the legacy of colonialism at a time of increased repatriation. Yet the ghosts and skeletons that appear everywhere stand as dutiful observers from beyond the grave. Presented in a townhouse in Flatbush, Pictures will speak admirably redirects surrealism to its roots in the Global South.

Gallery Particulier (Galerieparticulier.org)
281 Maple Street, Lefferts Gardens Prospect, Brooklyn
December 7, 2022-23. January 2023


Something about Midtown: Changing rooms

Flyer for Just Above Midtown Gallery, (ca. 1985) (courtesy of the Linda Goode Bryant Collection, New York and the Museum of Modern Art)

During the 1970s and 1980s, Just Above Midtown (JAM) was where experimental art could be found in the neighborhood where MoMA is now located. As such, this new retrospective deconstructs the history of the Manhattan Gallery. Founded by filmmaker Linda Goode Bryant, JAM became the foundation for people of color working across generations and disciplines – often showcasing emerging artists alongside established artists. Compilation of posters and photographs featuring works by Howardena Pindell, David Hammons and Lorraine O’Grady, Right above Midtown honors the thriving social scene that produced many of today’s popular artists.

The Museum of Modern Art (moma.org)
11 West 53rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan
Until February 18, 2023


Maryna Bilak: CARE

Maryna Bilak, “Stormy (Lady in a White Hat)” (2018) (Courtesy of the artist and Derfner Judaica Museum)

Maryna Bilak’s art expresses the all-encompassing nature of Alzheimer’s disease, from its impact on the patient to the pain it causes in loved ones. Bilak’s latest exhibition CARE is dedicated to her late mother-in-law, Dorothy, and her experiences as young parents. Frescoes of facial features suggest how the disease wears down our memories, while plaster sculptures assembled with Dorothy’s own fabrics and furniture recreate the domestic spaces in which she once lived. Bilak’s exhibition, on view at a Jewish senior citizens’ community, takes us on a journey from grief to healing and how art helps us cross that threshold.

Derfner Judaica Museum (riverspringliving.org)
5901 Palisade Avenue, North Riverdale, Bronx
Until February 19, 2023


Fortune and Folly in 1720

Anonymous, “Magic Card or Remedy for the Wind-Breaking of the Southwest and the Departure of the Cartouche” (1720) (courtesy New York Public Library)

The dangers of market volatility have long inspired artists parody the capitalist class in many ways. For this reason the New York Public Library takes us back to December 1720 as the first Investment bubble burst. Colorful paintings, drawings, graphic designs, and printed ephemera signal the sheer panic on display—and the Glee artists took it upon themselves to mock it all. Indolent shareholders are carelessly adrift in a boat run by the devil. A personification of greed seeking to “overtake or outrun” that of happiness, embodies one of the main temptations of the market. All of this shows how ordinary workers are drawn into the chaos. For our age of NFTs and other crypto scams, happiness and folly shows how history can rhyme both and to repeat.

New York Public Library (nypl.org)
476 Fifth Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan
Until February 19, 2023

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Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama at Ratio 3

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“Polaroid?” mused Roland Barthes in two brackets in his 1981 book Camera Lucida, “Fun but disappointing unless a great photographer is involved.” By the time the French theorist was writing this paper, the Polaroid was quite fashionable, a situation that caused some tension among photography’s leading theorists and artistic authorities. But despite its decline in popularity over the decades (and even after the company twice declared bankruptcy in the early 2000s), the Polaroid has had a surprising revival of late, both as digital simulacra (via smartphone photo filters) and millennial nostalgia ware , which hints at a story yet to unfold.

The 400 Polaroids exhibition brilliantly evokes this unusual trajectory by bringing together two artists, Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama, into conversation. Longtime friends and occasional collaborators, the two have worked in parallel on the expressions of post-war Japanese photography for more than fifty years. But while Araki has long promoted the Polaroid as an experimental medium through series like “Polanography” (a portmanteau of Polaroid and pornography; the work features spliced ​​images of nude models performing), 2016, Moriyama mostly only ever used it as a diary tool.

In the existentially titled series “bye-bye polaroid” from 2008, Moriyama takes his device to the streets of Tokyo and snaps old shop windows, passers-by and architecture with the tender poetry of the flâneur. If Moriyama seeks the soon-to-be-obsolete medium’s immediacy to capture a city in decline, Araki uses it to document the vibrancy of his hometown, capturing images of hot girls, friends, flowers, and food. This formal dialectic of the sentimentality of photography is attractively staged in the exhibition through changing shelves with works by the artists, who present their pictures in free-standing Plexiglas frames. As a highly physical souvenir (or, in the etymological sense of the word, a reminder), the Polaroid is no longer valued simply for its quick seriality or instant gratification, but for its unique materiality as a pure print medium, and its ordinariness contains something extraordinarily moving.

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LA’s Hammer Museum Sets Opening Date for Expansion

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After more than two decades, the newly expanded and renovated Hammer Museum is scheduled to open on March 26, 2023 Los Angeles Times. Led by Michael Maltzan Architecture, the restoration includes a new, more visible entrance at the corner of Wilshire and Westwood Boulevards, across from a yet-to-be built subway station, due for completion in 2027. The block down Wilshire where it meets Glendon Avenue will be an outdoor sculpture terrace, while an adjacent building that formerly housed the City National Bank will house new gallery spaces.

The remodeled Hammer main room was renamed the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Cultural Center after donors constructed a building in 2018 historical $30 million gift to the project. The largest single donor gift ever made to the museum followed a $20 million donation from television producer Marcy Carsey, who has served as the museum’s board chair since 2014. A $180 capital campaign to fund expansion continues; $156 million has been raised to date.

The expansion, which adds 40,000 square feet to the original Hammer and creates 60 percent more gallery space, was the idea of ​​museum director Ann Philbin, who came to the institution in 1999. Under her leadership, the Hammer has grown its workforce from fifty full-time employees to more than 100 and its annual operating budget has increased from $6 million to $29 million. Visitor numbers have quadrupled in the last 22 years. Beginning in 2005, the museum expanded its contemporary art collection, much of which it acquired through the Made in LA initiative and its Hammer Projects series. The institution will present the largest exhibition of its collection to date when it unveils the completed expansion in March.

“It’s just incredibly exciting,” Philbin told dem Times, and noted that its incremental progress made it “hard to imagine an end to construction”. “But now, that’s the moment when we open the front door and the new entrance, that’s the moment when everyone really notices what we’re doing there.”

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