Just like any other professional, I can truly say, “Everyone who comes to see me wants to use me.” Frequently, however, it entails much more than just an office visit. I have traveled to France, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, Ireland and from Hawaii to Massachusetts at the expense of people who owned, produced or distributed artworks attributed to Salvador Dali.
When the Albaretto Collection in Turin, Italy retained Baron Philippe duNoyer and the Baroness Ghislaine to be my travel companions on a trip to see the Albaretto Collection–world’s largest assemblage of original Dali artworks–they did so because they wanted me to see for myself what they had. I could then be their expert when questions of authenticity surfaced. I have greatly enjoyed a continuing relationship with the family, though I declined their offer to give me Dali’s last surviving ocelot.
My assignment was similar when Beniamino Levi hosted me on a trip to Paris and Switzerland so I could be shown all of the documentation that backed up the bronzes of Dali images that he has created, casts and distributes. After visiting the offices and foundry, my conclusions and opinions did not please Levi and I did not hear from him again.
The same has been true of a great many other journeys I have made to provide Dali authentication and valuation services. If I find the works in a collection are genuine, my report pleases the client who can then use it as the most credible document available for a Salvador Dali artwork. If my opinions are negative and I believe the subject artworks to be fakes or forgeries, I never hear from the client again and I assume my report has been consigned to the fire. If so, I have a copy and I shall re-emerge if I ever find a fake that I have denounced is being offered for sale as authentic.
One client of mine in Florida was not especially concerned when I found that a portion of his more than one hundred prints attributed to Dali were fakes. He was using me to find out, but he said he still enjoyed the bogus prints.
The most important element of being an expert whose services people want to use for their own ends is to know that and be sure always to do the assignment as a totally independent, third party disinterested professional. That does not mean it cannot be a lot of fun. Just take a look at my book Artful Dodgers: Fraud and Foolishness In The Art Market which has won four awards. Order at artfuldodgers.us .