For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Tuesday, 28 October 2003

DOES YOUR WARHOL IMITATE LIFE, OR IS IT JUST FAKING?

The Sunday Telegraph has reported that more than 20 art dealers and collectors are preparing to sue the Andy Warhol Authentication Board, which oversees Warhol's $700 million (£413 million) legacy. They allege the Board is deliberately refusing to verify allegedly new genuine works by the artist because it wants to ensure that the price of existing works remains high. Many of those whose claims have been turned down by the board claim that they were given the works by Warhol while he was still alive. The campaign against the board is led by Joe Simon, the producer of the film “Richard the Third”. Simon, who lives in London, has had a number of works turned down, including a Warhol silkscreen self-portrait that he bought 14 years ago for $195,000. That work, he said, had been previously sold by Christie's. It was verified both by Warhol's manager, Paul Morrissey, and by Fred Hughes, Warhol's executor and the late chairman of the Andy Warhol Foundation. But when Simon presented it to the Board three years ago, however, with the intention of selling it for £2 million to a buyer who wanted proof it was genuine, he was told that it was "not the work of Andy Warhol". "I felt very angry”, Simon said, “largely because they had encouraged me to submit it so the picture might be included in the catalogue that the Board are involved in editing", he said. "To my utter disbelief, my twice previously officially authenticated painting was returned to me denied, without any explanation. To this date they still refuse to give any reason".

The Board however faces a serious problem. Warhol, having come up with the concept for a work, often delegated the manual labour to other people, thereby making it difficult to ascertain who "made" the piece. John Paul Russell, his printer during the 1980s, said: "I had never seen Andy Warhol even once come down to the studio in Tribeca to watch his work being printed". Many of his instructions to the printers were by telephone. Ron Spencer, the Board’s lawyer, said that its role was to ascertain the "intent" of the artist. He told this month's Vanity Fair magazine that even if a work were printed by a number of other people the Board would still classify it as genuine: "If Warhol conceived the idea and he then directed someone else to prepare a silkscreen, supervised the process of production and, in effect, signed off on it, as long as he said, 'That's good, that's what I wanted', Warhol created that work". Many dealers claim, however, that this definition does not hold in practice and that some screen prints in a series are accepted as genuine by the board while identical works are refused.

The IPKat notes that UK copyright law is clear. Merely conceiving an idea which is executed by others does not constitute an act of authorship in relation to the work which those others have created. This is not the case, though, in the unusual situation in which the person who executes the work is a mere amanuensis, who exercises no independent judgment whatever in how the work is to appear. Some of Warhol’s works may thus be authenticated by the Board as genuine Warhols but nonetheless be regarded as his works for UK copyright purposes.

Andy Warhol, “silver screen: can’t tell them apart at all” here
Resale royalty rights: what happens if you resell your real Warhols in the European Union, California and Australia
How to tell if a work is a fake here, here and here


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