Art Market Investigation – Fakes, Forgeries and Deception

Art Market Investigation – Fakes, Forgeries and Deception

The art world has been plagued by fakes and forgeries for over two thousand years which began largely as a result of buyers being more interested in the aesthetics of the work than who painted it. It was during the Renaissance that artworks became a commodity, resulting in the value of an artwork being directly related to the profile of the artist and consequently making the issue of fakes and forgeries far more important.

lock.gifAdvances in technology have bought about new and improved methods of creating forgeries, which make it harder and harder to spot the fakes. The Internet has provided the perfect market place for fakes and forgeries through a lack of regulation, which gives sellers the ability to provide false details, misrepresent goods and generally deceive buyers.

The popularity of Australian Aboriginal art has seen the art market flooded with fake and forged artworks, many of which are sold online. In an effort to combat the particularly serious issue of Aboriginal art fraud, there is currently a program being developed which involves the use of specially designed, hi-tech authenticity labels, which will be used to identify genuine indigenous artworks. Until this program is implemented and becomes standard practice, the Australian Aboriginal art market will continue to be fraught with issues in regard to authenticity and attribution so extreme care and vigilance is required when making a purchase.

Many of the Australian artists such as David Boyd, Brett Whitely, Sidney Nolan, Norman Lindsay and others have also had forgeries of their work come onto the market recently. However, because of an extremely low rate of official reporting on fraudulent activity it is not known how extensive the problem is although it is safe to say that it would be more extensive than the reported instances would suggest. Dealers are understandably hesitant to reveal that they have been in possession of a fake work as it would almost certainly have an impact on their reputation, even if it was a genuine mistake.

Even though we do not know the real extent of the problem of art forgery an article from the New York Times in 1999 gave an estimation that depending on the period and the artist, between 10% and 40% of paintings for sale at any one time are fraudulent or so over-restored as to make them the equivalent of fakes.

Even though the experts are sometimes fooled, the best way to prevent buying a fake or forgery is to do your homework before purchasing a painting, which means researching the seller of the work, confirming provenance where available, obtaining a certificate of authenticity and getting a second opinion if you have any doubts. The other important point to keep in mind is that if it seems too good to be true it most probably is.

Nick**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

13 Responses

  1. I am very concerned here as I KNOW several artists (some russian especially detailed work) that a selling their geicles as original and even the dealers can’t tell. there are new machines that have advanced over ink jet that use oil paints and can transform a photograph into a painting on canvas. They usually put little dots of paint on the strechers to make it look right.

  2. If interested in the modern day reality of forgery in the art world, google Ken Perenyi. He and his art have been around, in the best auction houses on the planet for the past 30 years or so.

  3. I agree Ken Perenyi’s art forgery is the very best out in the art world. …and he is the first to tell you that it is a fake.

  4. ken perenyi is a menance to the art market and should have been thrown in jail years ago

  5. Hello.

    My name is Christos Tsonias and I have in my position an old book called <> Antonio vallardi editore Milano.

    I would like to ask for more information, if you pleased, about the author and generally the book.
    Is it posible the book author (L.Picasso) real name is Pablo Picasso.
    It compose only 24 designs-drawnings.

    I send foto’s and any information i had about it to CRISTIES and i from them ressive the following email.


    If you have to interest to investicate about it please do.
    Thank you.

    Best regards

  6. The name of the book is <>

  7. Sarah say,i agree Ken Perenyi’s art forgery is the very best out in the art world..-Please don`t talk that kind of fudge!
    Nobody does not best of someone else in world of professional art forger.Do you hear who is Tony Tetro or Van Meegeren or Eric Hebborn???Here does not exist best or better. All of professional art forger having high talent and acquirement in this occupation.

  8. Good night, I am new into this tecnology but lets try, i’m helping Diana to promote her work but we don’t know actually how can we start instead use social networking. Is there is a way to show Diana’s work to the galeries or other kind of organization. thanks fro your time

    P.S hope you like Diana’s work.

  9. Do you hear who is Tony Tetro or Van Meegeren or Eric Hebborn???Here does not exist best or better.

  10. Resveratrol -What is your problem?

  11. Could forgery also be considered art due to the skill and effort necessary to execute it?

    • No, forgery (regardless of how good it is) aimed at deceiving others is definitely not art, it is theft.

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