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September 4, 2012

Provenance in the art world

Posted at 1:00 pm in Similar cases

We often talk about provenance, in relation to looted artefacts, being later sold on – and the fact that without provenance, it is hard to really know what the artefact is – where it really came from & whether it is genuine or not. What is sometimes overlooked is that such issues of provenance can sometimes have just as much effect on far more recent art works.

The message is clear – all artwork needs a full provenance, to be certain of its authenticity. The people who buy works which do not have one are encouraging the market in looting & fakes, while at the same time possibly purchasing worth a tiny fraction of what they paid for it.

Vanity Fair

May 2012
A Question of Provenance
By Michael Shnayerson

Ann Freedman had come to Knoedler one last time.

On a mid-February day, she approached the mansion at 19 East 70th Street, where New York’s most venerable art gallery used to be, before its sudden, shocking closing last fall amid forgery allegations. “It’s amazing to think that this institution never stopped for 165 years,” she said. “It didn’t stop during the Civil War, World War I, World War II … I kept it open on 9/11.”

Now the doors were locked, the building cleaned out. The new owner was about to take possession. Knoedler’s former director had wangled a walk-through: a chance, as she put it, to be the last one in and the last one out of this gallery that had once sold Raphaels and Vermeers to Mellons and Fricks. She seemed not to wonder whether she was part of the reason these rooms were now empty.
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