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“WE’RE ALL SO THRILLED BY THIS DISCOVERY ! “


Dali friend Enrique Zepeda, whom I have experienced always being accompanied by his iPad, is really good at finding art-related articles and posting them where the rest of us can easily read them. One of his recent posts was from theatlanticwire.com  and is titled “Andy Warhol’s Brother Says Drawing Bought at Garage Sale Is a Fake”.

The pencil drawing, purchased in Las Vegas from a drug addict who said his aunt had been baby sitter to Andy Warhol when he was about ten years old, was hailed as a portrait of singer Rudy Vallee. (How can you not love the art market with the humor that just keeps coming?)

As writer Adam Martin puts it, “people flipped out”.  The work is going on display at the Royal Western Academy. Experts and those who should know, including Andy Warhol’s brother Paul Warhola, are now lining up to debunk the attribution.

While the whole affair sound like a Saturday Night Live script, what interests me is the way that when an unknown artwork is “discovered” and attributed to a great artist, there is always an initial explosion of acceptance, excitement and justification. I get lots of questions such as, “Hey, how about that new XXX they just discovered? Pretty exciting, huh?”

Later, when the experts weigh in and give their opinions that the work is not by the great man or woman, then everyone says, “Oh, yes. I can clearly see that it’s all wrong.” I have several such stories in my forthcoming book Artful Dodgers: Fraud and Foolishness in the Art Market. I also point out that the Andy Warhol Foundation–like the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and many others–has announced that it will no longer give opinions of authenticity for works attributed to the artist for whom the foundation was created. This, along with the perennial mess in finding fully credible opinions for the art of Pablo Picasso (whose family members have all been heavily compromised) creates an ever-increasing problem for collectors, curators and appraisers. It’s not unlike the problems with the Salvador Dali market where opinions of authenticity are given by people who don’t know what they’re talking about or have an agenda of their own. (That’s why you need me.)

At one time, when I was dealing with a painting given as a gift by Jackson Pollock, I informally asked a member of the Pollock-Krasner Board what he would suggest. He said I should show it to him, he’d give me an opinion and then deny he’d done so.

This is just another reason that I say the art world is endlessly entertaining. Since my town of Santa Fe is itself the most entertaining place I know and there is no more fascinating artist than Salvador Dali, for whom I am the international expert,  you can see why I think I have more fun than anyone else I know.