Provenance and the Art Market –

Provenance and the Art Market –

The art market boom has undoubtedly resulted in an increased level of art forgery and other fraudulent activities related to art which means that provenance (ownership history) has become an even more important factor for art investors and collectors. Some of the world’s most reputable art dealers have unknowingly sold artworks to people that have later on proven to be fakes so buying from a reputable dealer does not mean that you are immune from art fraud. In my experience there is only one thing that you can do to help protect yourself from art fraud and that is to check and cross check the information you are provided with in relation to an artwork to ensure that what you are being told is correct. In an effort to help prevent art fraud – museums, galleries and other organisations around the world have set up searchable provenance databases and indexes that art collectors and investors can use to help confirm the provenance of works of art. Many of the provenance databases concentrate on the period 1933-45 (World War II) during which many artworks were looted by the nazis but they are still a useful resource for art collectors and investors.
Below is a list of some of the best provenance resources:

The Getty Provenance Index

The National Gallery of Art Provenance Search

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Harvard University Provenance Research

Chinese Art – Research into Provenance

**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.

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