In “Auctions: How Forensics Are Making a Mark” (Halcyon Magazine, July 2017), Jordan Arnold and other experts explore the rising trend of using sophisticated forensic techniques to more accurately determine provenance in a booming art market that’s facing an upsurge in advanced forgeries.
According to Jordan, “It’s a tricky landscape because making a mistake is a tremendous problem.” Auction houses and art sellers can be held liable in court for the sale of forged work, and insurance companies won’t pay out if the authentication process has not been properly handled.
Private collectors, auction houses, and insurance companies alike are turning to international investigators to employ forensic techniques for substantiation of provenance claims. These techniques are evolving to surpass criminal practices. Techniques like embedding the synthetic DNA of living artists help “protect the artist’s work as well as boost the value of the investment for the collector,” says Jordan.
However, Jordan adds, “Fake provenance documents are [also] a growing problem. . . . The counterfeiting of a provenance document is very basic, low-level graphic designer work.” Due diligence and true forensic investigations have never been more important.
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