How to Spot a Fake Picasso –

How to Spot a Fake Picasso –


genuine print

Art authentication is something that I am extremely interest in so much so that I am currently studying art authentication at university. The issue of fakes and forgeries is much more serious than most people realise but because of the way the art market operates information relating to the sale of fakes and forgeries is often swept under the carpet. I recently came across an online auction which included a work which was described as a pencil signed etching by Picasso from the Vollard suite. As well as being signed, this etching also had a label and seal of authenticity from the Musee d’Orsay as well as a seal and stamp from Christie’s. The photos of the work confirmed that the work did have all these things. Problem is, the stamps, labels and seals were fake as was the etching it’s self. Here’s how I came to this conclusion.

1. The fourth picture shows the supposed label of authenticity from the Musee d’Orsay. First of all, the Musee d’Orsay does not provide any sort of written authentication documents for works of art. According to the museum’s website “The public establishment of the Musée d’Orsay does not provide certificates of authenticity for works of art. Any certificate of authenticity purporting to be from the Musée d’Orsay is therefore false, and its use is an offence under articles 441-1, and following articles, of the French penal code.”


fake print

2. The fake Musée d’Orsay label also has the incorrect title for this particular etching. The label lists the title as “ESCULPIENDO UNA CABEZA” when in fact this etching is from the famous Vollard Suite and is titled “Sculpteur, modele et buste sculpte”.

3. The signature is completely wrong (compare fake to genuine print)


fake Christie's stamp

4. The size of the fake is wrong. The plate mark of the genuine print is 26.6 h x 19.4 w cm whereas the size of the plate market of the fake is 11.5 h x 8 w cm.


fake Musee d'Orsay stamp

5. I managed to find another three prints being sold with the exact same stamps, labels and seals but with different reference numbers. The date of the Christie’s stamp is also the same (12 March 1972) for all the prints that I could find.

6. The fake looks wrong when compared to the original

7. Last but not least, the people selling these prints were selling them online for around the 500 euro mark where as genuine print from the edition is worth around 5000 euros at auction with some having sold for up to 10,000 euros. One of the sellers had the audacity to say that they had a certificate from a prestigious valuation firm that valued the fake they were selling at 6000 euros. Why would someone sell a print for 500 euros when they could easily get 5000 euros for it. As the old saying goes, if it is too good to be true is most probably is.

Stamps, seals, stickers,labels etc.  are extremely easy to fake and can give what may seem a watertight authenticity to a work.  I am seeing more and more fakes and forgeries with accompanying fake and forged indicators of authenticity.  The fact that many of these fakes and forgeries are sold at just a fraction of their true value should be the first thing that automatically make one suspicious of the authenticity of the work.  Sane people don’t sell works of art for a 10th of their value online if they are aware of their value and could just as easily get the full value elsewhere.

image 1:
Genuine print
Sculpteur, modele et buste sculpte. (Sculptor, model and sculpted bust.)
17 March 1933
intaglio etching
plate-mark 26.6 h x 19.4 w cm

image 2:
fake print

image 3:
fake Christie’s stamp

image 4:
fake Musee d’Orsay stamp

**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.

12 Responses

  1. I really enjoyed this article; I find the artmarketblog website is a little bit messy to view, especially when it comes up on facebook, which is a shame because sometimes it puts you off reading the articles, such as this one which is excellent

  2. good article, fascinating world, people go to so much trouble to extract money from others, but who is buying picassos online? same people who allow nigerians to place untold sums of money in their accounts?

  3. Hi Nicholas, thank you very much for the article. I was looking something like that on the web because a friend of mine received some of the fake prints and he thinks they are real. When I saw them for the first time, Picasso´s signature created my first doubt. However, the seals and stamps on the back makes you think they are real. Fortunately, my friend didn´t buy those prints, somebody gave them as a gift. I have only one question, the real print doesn´t have any seal, number o stamp? Thanks again

  4. sera posible conoc er aproximadamente el numero de copias que se realizaron de estra obra, yo tengo una que cumple con trodas las caracxteristicas de la original, pero me quedo la duda. me fue regalada en paris en el año 1990 y es la seriada No. 21. mucho agradeceria su respuesta.

    • Hola Juan

      Tu que tienes una que cumple con las caracteristicas para ser original, ésta tiene sellos en su parte trasera?, como son? la firma de Picasso es como el grabado original que aparece en esta pagina? o no tiene firma.

  5. Hi I Have picasso lithographs can you help me if they are real .Thank you

  6. This is great information for those of us interested in finding real Picasso’s.. I wish there was a record of all the ones ever made so when they are all found they are all found…

    Stock Pots

  7. Some pal, you got it all owrng. It’s all original & I have the stood life time for you. I have oil paintings with stamps red wax and references numbers and authentication was done in 1982 by Jaqueline Picasso and yes the museum on the site says they don’t do authentication but that’s after they opened in 1986- do you know what happened in the museum in 1980.1981/1982 ???? I don’t think you . So you are giving Falls & fake information . And if you email me or call me I can prove it for you. Regards

  8. Thanks for saving me from purchasing a fake!

  9. The prints are real not fake I’m sorry to say your foolish person and no expert and anyone else this this prints are fake is foolish. Look forward to publish my book With full explanation to show the world the truth.

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