Saturday, October 17, 2009

When is a Warhol Not a Warhol?

First published in news & Buzz at

Pop artist Andy Warhol was nothing if not prolific working as a painter, printmaker and filmmaker. The job of authenticating his work falls on the shoulders of the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc. which is a committee of the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Should a work fail the Board’s authentication, the word "DENIED" is stamped on the reverse making the work unsalable even if the decision should be reversed. When a work is submitted to the board its owner must sign a document stating they will not challenge the board’s verdict in a court of law before the board will look at it. And the Board is not required to divulge the reasons for its decision even in the case when it reverses a previous decision.

But this cloak of secrecy, which has annoyed more than one Warhol collector, is set to change. In a class action lawsuit brought by film producer Joe Simon-Whelan and other yet-to-be-named plaintiffs the judge, Laura Taylor Swain, gave the plaintiffs the right of "discovery" when dismissing The Foundation’s motion to dismiss the case.

Soon not only will the muddied waters that surround the authentication or otherwise of this 1965 "Red Self Portraits," silk screen print become a little clearer but any accusations about the Board’s competency and integrity will also be laid to rest.

A full discussion about this case can be seen here.

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