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Lincoln in Dalivision

Once again we turn to Reynolds Morse’s ca. 1989-1990 Memorandum For Prosecutors, Judges and Juries Involved in Dali Art Fraud Cases and find him discussing the Dali print that would end up being faked more than any other image (even Persistence of Memory). Yes, that would be the image released in 1976 in edition of 1,240 mixed media prints as Lincoln in Dalivision. The publisher was Levine & Levine in New York and one of the major distributors was Martin Lawrence Limited Editions in Van Nuys, California. Just a few year later Martin Lawrence would claim to have no records of the publication and sales.

The original image was Salvador Dali’s original oil painting Gala Looking At The Mediterranean Sea Which at a Distance of Twenty Meters is Transformed Into The Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko). The prints were originally described as original lithographs. Morse wrote in his memorandum, “When I pointed out to Dali it was not a lithograph but a reproduction of his painting, he produced a small “original” etching (or drawing) of a small head which was printed in red at the lower right of this limited edition so that the word “original” could be left in the literature.”

I heard Ren tell this story many times, but he was never able to confirm that Dali created the small Picassoesque head with extended tongue as an etching–something I very much doubt. If Dali had created the image on a plate, it would have been a drypoint. When examining the prints with the remarque printed on them, I have never been convinced that it was printed from an original plate. It appears rather to be an embossed reproduction of the original image. None the less, it was accepted by all and indeed the prices paid did rise.

Many fake versions of the image quickly appeared; most with forged signatures. How many bogus editions are in circulation? Who knows. I have tracked at least eight and, at one time, had samples of six of them together in a single location–Upstairs Gallery’s warehouse in Huntington Beach, California. I had been hired by the gallery’s parent company–Forest Lawn Corporation–to examine prints of many Dali images that were returned by collectors after the Los Angeles District Attorney busted four Upstairs locations. Some examples from the fake editions were sold by various galleries for up to $25,000, as original prints by Salvador Dali, of course.

The Lincoln in Dalivision image was also used for bogus stamped brass bas reliefs, 4,500 solid metal castings with precious metal patinas (silver, gold and platinum) and a “tapestry”. This last was actually a printed serigraph on fabric and the design was not woven as it must be for a tapestry. Dali had nothing to do with these efforts to capitalize on the popularity of his imagery.

I continue to see examples from every edition with regularity. Yes, I also see “good” prints from the Levine & Levine edition. I’m always happy to check them out for collectors and dealers and give them all of the information known.

The edition was released at an initial price of $750 and sold out very quickly. In fact, the whirlwind sales caused the vendors to start announcing that the value would quickly climb to as high as $30,000. My files are full of the high hype mailings. Some of the fakes were sold for $25,000 and it is clear from current EBay listings that there are still owners who have note learned anything beyond the sales pitch they heard in the late 1970s and 1980s.