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IS THEY IS, OR IS THEY AIN’T? Part 3


So what about this independent and disinterested business that I keep harping on with reference to myself as opposed to the other people who claim to be “Dali Experts” and who offer to provide “authentications” of the Master’s work? I have recently done a re-evaluation of the topic while writing my book Artful Dodgers in Ireland. My conclusion is that it is a really critical issue.

After all, it’s all about credibility and we must not forget that:

If a person has integrity, nothing else matters.
If a person does not have integrity, nothing else matters.
When you are considering having an artwork authenticated it is a very good idea to ask yourself if the person who claims to be an authenticator could possibly benefit financially or in any other way from the opinions they give.
For instance, a dealer may have all sorts of potential conflict-of-interest problems. Has he ever sold this particular artwork? Has he sold another piece from the same edition? Does he have one in stock? Does he have a relationship with the publisher or distributor? Has he ever published an opinion concerning the artwork? You get the idea.
Former “secretaries” to Salvador Dali have played all sorts of games with the “authentication” process because they have had a number of relationships with the Master’s work and one has even been known to state that if he did not receive a commission on the original sale, he did not consider the work genuine. Great.
It is also potentially dangerous to rely on an “archivist” as an authenticator, especially if he is not the person who accumulated the archived information, but is, rather, the administrator.
The very best authenticator (that is, one who gives opinions of authenticity) for atworks attributed to Salvador Dali would be one who meets the following criteria:
  • Fully independent.
  • Disinterested in that he has never bought, sold or brokered a Dali artwork. In other words, he has lived his professional life outside the market.
  • Has extensively developed his connoisseurship and seen a great many genuine artworks by the artist, hopefully more than anyone else.
  • Has developed his examination techniques and uses the Scientific Method as an Art Detective.
  • Has been relied upon by museums and foundations which specialize in Dali’s art.
  • Has met the major collectors, been trusted by them and had access to their documentation as well as photographs, stories and, of course, artworks.
  • Been repeatedly accepted in courts of law at all levels as an expert.
  • Served as an expert for numerous law enforcement and regulatory agencies at all levels of government.
  • Published articles on the artist.
  • Given lectures at museums, galleries and other art venues.
  • Never been proved wrong in court or by the IRS or been accused of an ethics violation.

These and other criteria are extensively discussed in my upcoming book Artful Dodgers: Fraud and Foolishness In The Art Market. Where would one find such a professional if one wanted to have a Dali artwork authenticated? I can think of only one place: http://bernardewell.com/.