Authenticity

Great photos come with great provenance

We are delighted to announce Iconic Images will now be using Tagsmart DNA Tags specifically designed for photographic papers and mounted works and Certificates of Authenticity as a guarantee of authenticity and provenance.

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Robin Morgan, Iconic Images’ CEO and Creative Director explains: “The art market has traditionally been vulnerable to forgeries and lawsuits: Tagsmart presents a sea of change in the industry, offering a robust and fail-safe mechanism to verify art and photography. It is great news for us, and great news for collectors.” 

Representing some of the world’s most celebrated photographers, Iconic Images will introduce this innovation by tagging two of Terry O'Neill’s most famous images – Frank Sinatra on the Board Walk and Brigitte Bardot with a cigar in her mouth.

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By using Tagsmart’s triple lock solution to seal the authenticity of artworks, Iconic Images and Terry O'Neill can also control their limited editions works, protect collectors, their names and reputation against fakes and forgeries and complement their existing digital protection. 

According to legendary photographer Terry O’Neill, “Tagsmart’s authentication solution reassures collectors that the work they are buying is authentic and its value will be protected.” 

It’s here! Meet our new Smart Tag for canvas works!

Just a year after the launch of Tagsmart Certify, a new standard for authenticity in art, we proudly present our new Smart Tag for canvas works, the latest addition to our family of tags designed for the mediums you love.

The problem of fakes and forgeries continues to plague the art market. Tagsmart’s new Smart Tag is a powerful countermeasure, which will offer protection to a larger segment of the market. I am encouraged by the innovation which is setting a new standard in authentication.“ – Colette Loll, Art Fraud Insights

The Smart Tag for canvas is archival and features the latest synthetic DNA and security elements. Its pioneering design allows for a quick and easy application and renders the Smart Tag flexible and free to bend, roll and expand/shrink with the natural movements of the canvas. Following conservation best practices, the Smart Tag fragments with any attempt to transfer or remove it, making it unable for reuse.

I believe this Smart Tag for canvas works will become a fundamental rule of thumb in protecting and securing artworks. This tag will revolutionise the art market, giving artists the opportunity to safeguard their highest valued works.“ – Deborah Azzopardi

Register now to order your Smart Tags for canvas, paper or aluminium works.

Museum rewards donor with fake art to hang at home

After collector Henry Bloch donated an enviable group of impressionist artworks to the city’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the museum returned the favor, sort of.

The museum printed digital copies of each of Mr. Bloch’s 29 paintings—including examples by Edouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse—and delivered the framed replicas to his home two months ago so he could hang them in the exact same spots as the originals. Mr. Bloch said the copies are so realistic, he has to peer closely to discern the differences. “Every museum should be offering this service,” he said.

Art forgers aren’t the only ones using technology to produce ever-more-convincing fake paintings. Museums, in a rarely discussed practice, are churning them out as thank-you gifts to major donors. Curators say it’s mostly a taboo topic because the recipients don’t always like to admit they’ve got a glorified poster hanging in the place of a masterpiece, but Sotheby’s said auction houses have long gifted their major consignors with framed copies of big-ticket items. 

Julian Zugazagoitia, CEO and director of the Nelson-Atkins, said he initially considered the Bloch copies to be a fluky one-off, a gesture that could allow the museum to display Mr. Bloch’s art as part of its permanent collection when it reopens its renovated European art galleries March 11. Otherwise, it would have had to wait for the works to be given in a promised bequest as part of the 94-year-old collector’s estate. (Mr. Bloch’s foundation paid $12.7 million for the renovation.)

Yet as word spread of the museum’s unconventional offer, the director said his own trustees started reaching out, seeking prints for their art holdings. The director said going public about the potential perk could elicit gifts while donors are still alive. “The offer is becoming part of my tool kit now,” Mr. Zugazagoitia said.

Mr. Zugazagoitia said he is aware that such swapping could undermine one of the intangible factors that fuel an artwork’s value, namely the evidence of the artist’s own handiwork or at least the artist’s legitimising involvement. The museum itself will continue to display only original works, not copies. “We still believe in the aura of artists’ works,” he said. “People who come here need to see the originals.”The museum’s knockoffs are designed to look real—but only from the front so as not to dupe anyone long-term, said Steve Waterman, the museum’s director of design and experience. The fake canvases lack telltale brush strokes, and the backs of their frames lack gallery labels and other notations that appraisers and authenticators typically use to determine a work’s legitimacy.

Artist Lee Ufan’s forgery scandal continues

Three people have been arrested for allegedly forging and selling copies of artist Lee Ufan’s paintings. A National Forensic Service investigation confirmed that the six works in question do not align with genuine pieces by Ufan. The artist, however, maintains that the 13 paintings in questions are his authentic works.

Following a tip-off last December, the police raided Seoul galleries suspected of selling fake artworks by Ufan. The following month the police said that the Certificate of Authenticity for his 1978 painting From Point No. 780217, which was sold for US$415,600 to a private collector at an auction last year, had been forged. Although the artwork itself was proven to be authentic, the incident raised further suspicions surrounding the authenticity of his paintings.

In May and July, the police arrested three art forgers for 55 fake pieces claimed to have been done by Ufan, and selling them through the same gallery implicated in the latest police discovery. With four of the 13 paintings seized by the police credited to this group and six paintings claimed to have been forged by the latest forgery ring, the source or sources of the remaining three seized paintings are still unknown.

Ufan has been steadfast in his claims that the paintings alleged to have been forged are in fact his works. “A person’s flow and rhythm are like one’s fingerprints, which cannot be imitated,” he said at a press conference in June, after examining 13 works the National Forensic Service seized and identified as fake. “They are undoubtedly mine.”

The Mayor Gallery files lawsuit against Agnes Martin catalogue raisonné

A new lawsuit is brought by the Mayor Gallery against the Agnes Martin Authentication Committee underscores the importance of shielding authenticators from liability, and the problems inherent in the status quo.

The Mayor Gallery sold certain paintings to individual collectors in the belief (and representing) that the works were by Agnes Martin. The prices for the works ranged from US$2.9 million for Day & Night, to US$240,000 for an Untitled work, to US$180,000 for The Invisible, among many others. These works were all at some point, according to the Complaint, submitted to the Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné and its Authentication Committee.

The Mayor Gallery alleges that the various Agnes Martin works were submitted for authentication pursuant to the Authentication Committee’s Examination Agreement. In each work at issue, the Committee apparently rejected the idea that the works were authentic. The gallery argues that such rejection was reached with an inadequate level of interest or responsiveness, and as a result, it rescinded its sales to the individual owners and repaid the purchase price.

French firm to authenticate controversial Korean painting

Chun Kyung-ja was one of the most prominent female painters in Korea’s modern art history. She is best known for her portrayal of women and flowers, as shown in her controversial painting Beautiful Woman.

The controversy began in 1991 when Chun claimed that a painting attributed to her, which was (and has since been) on display at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), was a fake. An authentication process soon followed, but eventually the museum and the Galleries Association of Korea (GAK) announced that the work was legitimate.

Unconvinced and full of despair, Chun donated 93 of her works and left Korea for the United States in 1998, never to return. During the entire period of her exile to the U.S. up until her death in 2015, Chun never painted again.

But the authenticity dispute resurfaced with media coverage of Chun’s later years and the controversial painting, with Chun’s remaining family members and their team of lawyers filing a lawsuit in April against MMCA officials claiming that the museum had declared a counterfeit painting as a genuine one.

The lawyers have since demanded that an outside institution with no relationship to the MMCA or the GAK carry out an authentication process for impartiality, which is when the French art technology firm Lumiere Technology stepped in.

The authentication team from the French company arrived in Korea Tuesday, according to the Prosecutors’ Office, and has since been carrying out its authentication procedure using the company’s self-pioneered technique called Layer Amplification Method; the same method the company used to analyze the Mona Lisa and discover a hidden portrait under the iconic Da Vinci painting.

The method will analyse the controversial painting for its various elements, such as brush stroke, paints, and the order of workflow, and compare it to other works by Chun for a comparative analysis. According to the prosecutors, the process is expected to wrap up by the end of the month.

Prosecutors will be piecing together all the corroborative evidence, including the final verdict from Lumiere Technology, to determine the authenticity of Beautiful Woman, and officials are hopeful that the decades-long dispute will finally be settled.

#TagsmartTips for TOAF artists

Hi there! As The Other Art Fair approaches, we at Tagsmart thought we could give you a hand. We know how overwhelming an art fair can be, so we’ve created this handy checklist to help you make sure you don’t forget anything:

1. Photograph all your artworks and ensure you have the best quality digital copies saved.

2. Create your artwork records on the Tagsmart Certify platform: guarantee the authenticity of your artworks, create your online catalogue which can be viewed and shared on social media or via email, and ensure you will be able to issue secure Tagsmart Certificates of Authenticity for your buyers at the fair. Not a Tagsmart Certify artist yet? Register now!

3. Set all prices set and have cheaper priced artworks for those who cannot purchase the more expensive pieces. Don’t forget to bring along some red dot stickers to indicate an artwork has already been sold.

4. Let our team know if you need any Tagsmart Certify materials. Do you need Smart Tags for your artworks? Order them now! How about some promo materials? Just get in touch and we can send you sample Certificates of Authenticity and ‘Tagsmart Registered’ wall stickers.

5. Don’t forget your business cards to be given to your buyers and people who show an interest in your work. How about sending a newsletter to your collectors too?

6. Package and transport the artworks with special care and create label cards to be included alongside the artworks.

7. When setting up the exhibition space, imagine how visitors will interact with your artworks. Which piece will they see first? Try to plan ahead what will be replacing the sold artworks.

8. Take pictures! This is a moment you will want to remember for years to come!

Good luck, have fun and enjoy yourself!

Versailles: fake chairs and a French antiques scandal

A royal scandal has struck the Palace of Versailles after the arrest of two respected antiques dealers on suspicion of selling fake furniture to the acclaimed French chateau. The French State payed 2.7 million euros for the purchase, a sale said to be organised by chair expert Bill Pallot, who was arrested along with Parisian gallery owner Laurent Kraemer.

Art expert Didier Rykner points out the differences online: “Look at this one, we see clearly that it is much more worked, more detailed, I’m sorry… Bill Pallot ordered this fake furniture and then it came either by the big antique shops in Paris, either by auction house or direct.”

A Parisian carpenter specialising in old furniture reportedly made the fakes. It comes at a time in which Versailles wants to refurnish its halls with patronage money.

The French art fraud office OCBC is currently investigating the crime, one which has sent the antiques world into a spin and could overshadow the Biennale des Antiquaires art fair set to open this weekend in Paris.

Brett Whiteley fraudster ‘helped uncover another fake’

The conservator who created fake Brett Whiteley paintings that sold for millions of dollars was also an art sleuth who helped his clients uncover fraudulent works. Mohamed Aman Siddique helped prove a work was wrongly sold by an auction house as a ­Eugene Von Guerard painting.

In a character reference to the Victorian Supreme Court, which will sentence Siddique for fraud ­offences this week, Mr Bleasel, a former head of the Australian Antarctic Division, told how Siddique helped him chase a refund from the auction house.

Despite his doubts about the painting, Mr Bleasel had bought it after the auction house and two art dealers confirmed it as an authentic work by Von Guerard, a colonial landscape artist.

The painting needed cleaning and repair so Mr Bleasel sent it to Siddique. “He said that as he had strong doubts about the authenticity of that painting, he had started cleaning around the signature. That cleaning revealed that the signature had originally read ‘after Eugene Von Guerard’ but the ‘after’ had been painted over to make the painting more valuable.”

Mr Bleasel received a refund, but said the incident helped form his view of questionable practices in the Australian art industry.

Artist Jogen Chowdhury collects his counterfeit works & labels them ‘fake’

Different artists have different ways of dealing with counterfeits of their works. Jogen Chowdhury simply collects them, strikes them out with ink and writes the word ‘fake’ on them. “I have more than 18 fake paintings of my work with me,” the 77-year-old Chowdhury says. “When people come for authentication of my work and it’s not authentic, I then tell them so. I keep the work and tell them to ask the people they procured the work from to meet me. They never come.”

Lee Ufan declares all 13 works authentic

In a surprising turn of events, renowned modern artist Lee Ufan declared all 13 suspected forgeries of his works to be authentic, contrary to the conclusion of a yearlong investigation by police experts.

Lee’s verdict that the 13 pieces confiscated by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency are real comes after two examinations over Monday and Wednesday and contradicts the conclusion drawn by police that the paintings are forgeries after appraisals were made by the National Forensic Service and civilian art experts.

On Wednesday, Lee appeared before Seoul police for the second time this week, carrying two catalogues of his art and a magnifying glass. About four hours later, he emerged from the station declaring that the works were without a doubt authentic.

“I concluded that there is not anything strange with a single piece,” said Lee. “The use of breath, rhythm and colour were all my techniques.”

Court orders dealer of phony artwork to repay victims

Buyers who obrtained fake artwork from a Madison dealer will receive full restitution after being tricked into spending thousands of dollars on works purported to be by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and other masters, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled.

David Crespo, who formerly owned the Brandon Gallery in Madison, was sentenced to almost five years in prison in early 2015 following an undercover sting operation conducted after federal authorities came to believe he was selling fake artwork on eBay. The investigation, which started in 2009, was launched after a customer went to the local police department to complain about being sold a fake.

British doubts over Joan of Arc's ring

The Joan of Arc ring, which was temporarily taken out of the UK in March before an export licence was applied for, may not have belonged to the saint. After being taken to France by its new owner without proper documentation, it was quietly returned to London after pressure was exerted by the British authorities. An export licence was then applied for and was quickly granted, on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence that the ring had really once belonged to Joan of Arc.

Prado opens landmark Bosch exhibition amid attribution controversy

Bosch fever is now moving on to Madrid, where the most comprehensive exhibition ever held on the Dutch master opens today (31 May). Twenty-four works by Hieronymus Bosch are on display—seven more than were at the Noordbrabants Museum in s’Hertogenbosch earlier this year. Probably never again will so many of his paintings be brought together.

However, part of the difference between the Bosch numbers at the Noordbrabants and the Prado is because of attributional questions. Dutch researchers demoted four works, all Spanish-owned pictures. The Noordbrabants team numbered the Spanish works as 24 (of which they got 17). The Prado specialists regard the total of fully-attributed works as 27 (of which they got 24). 

The $80 Million Art Con

When one of the oldest and most respected art galleries in America, the Knoedler Gallery in New York, closed its doors abruptly in 2011, the art world was stunned. Not because the gallery closed, but by the discovery that over the course of 15 years, the gallery and its president, Ann Freedman, had sold millions of dollars in forgeries to wealthy collectors.

Tagsmart partners with Gary Hume and Jealous Gallery

Our mission is to create a new standard for authenticity and provenance to help artists secure their copyright and allow galleries to sell with complete confidence.

We’ve already teamed up with some of the world’s leading artists and galleries including Gary Hume and Jealous Gallery. Hume’s Study In Black was one of the first artworks in the world to be tagged with its own ‘genetic fingerprint’ sealing its authenticity and provenance.

Watch our CEO Lawrence and Jealous Gallery Founder Dario Illardi talk to Reuters about it here.


“To be able to authenticate my work using the latest technology as I sign it and enter its details into an online searchable database will make it so much easier for people to track the history of the work and its authenticity in years to come.”
– Gary Hume


Come see us at Art16 from this Thursday, May 19th!

Art fakes, a genuine menace!

Every week, Akbar and Bhanu Padamsee receive images from collectors and auction houses for them to look at and confirm authenticity. On most occasions, they turn out to be forgeries. “Most of the works which have been brought to us in the recent past, have not been painted by Akbar,” says Bhanu.

The wife of the master painter made the alarming disclosure to ETPanache while attending a celebration at Priyasri Art Gallery in south Mumbai, to mark the artist’s 88th birthday. However, adds Bhanu, the proliferating racket of fakes is not confined to the octogenarian’s works alone, but confronts all other leading artists too.