In my thirty-eight years of debunking cons and scams related to the sale of prints attributed to Salvador Dali, I have seen some doozies, but perhaps Ed Weston topped all of his competitors. Yes, I know, Edward Weston was a well-known photographer, but I’m talking about the California art publisher and distributor who founded Edward Weston Publishing.
I met Ed one evening when legendary New York print dealer Marty Gordon, who founded Gordon’s Print Price Annual, asked me to accompany him to have dinner in Los Angeles with a friend. We drove to the St. James Club on Sunset Blvd. in a fabulous Art Deco building. The club was very upscale (the cashews in the bar came mounted on little wheels because they were so huge). I liked Ed from the first, but sensed that he was somewhat of a flim-flam man. I was to learn that he was actually a flaboyant pirate in a business made up of fantastic characters.
What was I doing hanging with Marty in Los Angeles, anyway? We had both been hired by Forest Lawn Corporation (yes, that Forest Lawn) which owned a lot of businesses other than the famous cemetary. One was Upstairs Gallery, whose four locations had recently been raided by a multi-agency police squad. I was to examine and pass judgement on all of the Dali prints in the Upstairs inventory and Marty was to do the same for the Miros. Our opinions would then be used by the DA to press charges, or not. We worked every day in the evidence room of the LAPD in the basement of Parker Center. We were surrounded by the proof that every item on earth has been used at some time to kill someone. It was the beginning of a very close and mutually rewarding friendship between me and Marty. I still miss him.
Well that evening at the St. James the three of us had a delighful and very amusing time. Ed and I later kept in touch and I even hired him to be part of a team of expert witnesses I assembled for a court case. Later, my beloved Melinda and I stayed at Ed’s home for several days. Right after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, I called to check on him and he told me he was up to his knees in smashed Picasso ceramics and fully a third of his extensive collection was gone.
Since we talked frequently, I was not surprised when Ed called one day to “run an idea” past me. It involved one of the best know editions of fake prints attributed to and sold as being original Dali prints.
You are going to love what Ed proposed to do to sell a couple of hundred prints. He had designed an elaborate event to launch the sales of what everyone knew were fake prints; but these had been enhanced in a most ingenious way. I’ll tell that story in Ed Weston Pulls A Dali Shenanigan Part 2.
Ed died at the age of 82 in 2007. He lived well and he lived large. He was unique.