Gallery Art owner Kenneth Hendel holds on tightly to Picasso’s ‘Portrait de Marie-Therese’ at his gallery in Aventura on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Hendel received a letter from a New York law firm saying that the Picasso in his gallery was stolen ten years ago from the Tisch family and they just noticed it was missing now. The gallery owner contends he bought the art from another dealer – paid $350,000 for it — and that he knows nothing about it being stolen.
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What Is a Certificate of Authenticity?
A Certificate of Authenticity is a bit like an artwork’s birth certificate, passport and quality guarantee all rolled into one.
Essentially, a COA is a document, created by the artist or someone who is an expert on the artist, which accompanies an artwork and contains all the information a collector could need to verify if the piece of art is genuine.
A Certificate of Authenticity (COA) provides a lot of concrete detail about a piece, but by existing for a particular piece, it says even more. An artwork that has a COA is one that is made by a professional practicing artist, not an amateur. It is a piece that has collectible value. The Certificate adds a tangible credibility to the work. It can help the work hold its value.
The COA is held to be an indirect promise of quality. Art pieces that have a COA have usually been made by an artist who cares about their work, its longevity and their collectors. The piece is likely to have been created from the best materials available, be designed to last and been created by an expert. Back to the concrete details, the Certificate will provide all the information on the medium(s) of the piece needed for conservation that might otherwise be lost forever.
Certificates protect the artist and the buyer by helping to prove that an artwork is original. Cheap copies sold without an artist’s knowledge or consent is unfortunately common. Without a COA attached, this situation makes it next to impossible for the buyer to be confident of the value of the piece or for the artist to maintain their credibility and their livelihood.
As an art collector, you really must only buy Fine Art pieces that are backed by a Certificate of Authenticity. This helps ensure that what you have bought at a premium is genuine and not counterfeit.
Former Jasper Johns assistant James Meyer, 52, has pleaded guilty to stealing the artist’s paintings from Johns’s Connecticut studio and selling them for a $3.4 million profit, reports Bloomberg News.
Meyer, who worked for Johns for more than 25 years, had been charged with a single count of transporting stolen property for stealing 22 of the artist’s works between September 2006 and February 2012. He sold the works to an unidentified gallery, claiming Johns had given him the canvases as gifts. The gallery went on to sell the paintings, which were actually unfinished pieces Johns had not authorized for sale, for $6.5 million.
In order to cover his tracks, Meyer gave each work a fake inventory number, and doctored up ledger pages from the artist’s studio, giving photos of the falsified documents to the gallery as evidence that the paintings came from the artist’s studio and had been gifted to Meyer. Those photos were then emailed to prospective buyers by the gallery. As a condition of the sales, Meyer required the artworks not to be publicly exhibited or resold for at least eight years.
The case appeared in Manhattan federal court before US District Judge Paul J. Oetken, and Meyer could have faced up to 10 years in jail. He has accepted a plea deal, and has agreed to non-binding federal sentencing guidelines that call for up to three years and 10 months in prison. Currently, Meyer is free on bail as he awaits his December 10 sentencing date. He has also agreed to forfeit more than $3.9 million, according to Courthouse News.
Another fraud case involving Johns and the operator of a foundry where he had sculptures made, Brian Ramnarine, also ended with a guilty plea. Ramnarine will be sentenced in September, according to the Guardian.