Art fraud : there is a lot of it about.
I was in a High Court in Central London last week.
I’d prepared carefully including, very rare for me, donning a suit and tie.
It is certainly true that fine paintings as opposed to ordinary paintings, are among the most reliable at all levels, of medium to long term investments.
With my new ‘Titanic’, “Plymouth Harbour” in mind I called at the Bank of China to refresh my connection with the head of the art and culture department.
If you can talent spot and buy from the new masters of the 21st century, considerable profits can be made, sometimes in just a few years as the artist gains recognition.
This latter happens often with for example, the works of Beryl Cook.
Of course, this provides fertile ground for tricksters, copyists, forgers, and fraudulent con [wo]men to prey upon innocents and the unwary.
Some pose as ‘art agents’, some as ‘financial advisers’, some as galley proprietors.
Those that are genuine will invariably be able to prove a long track record, a sound knowledge of both art history and practical painting, and have demonstrated an ability to spot and promote rising talent.
Even with them beware, most will try to sell you what they have or worse, put you off buying work from an artist they don’t represent.
By far the best way to buy good artwork is to back your own intuition and where possible buy direct from the artist or his appointed agent.
Talent spotting those artists can be fun, profitable and make new friends.
Handling the funds doesn’t have to be a risk.
Routinely pictures are paid for in instalments, with the higher value sales going through a solicitor/lawyer as a guarantee of integrity for both parties.
I had to fly out from Nantes/Gatwick to attend an art fraud trial as a witness for the defence.
Not my idea of fun, ‘interesting’ though and had to be done to support a colleague and friend.
‘Interesting’ experience included hearing a barrister take 10 hours to ask questions most of us could have covered in 20 minutes.
He seemed to know nothing about off shore companies and less about how the art business operates.
He did know courts are not about justice they are about minute technical details, clever questioning.
It seems to me Courts are places where often, results can be unpredictable.
‘The City’, ‘The Square Mile’ is how Londoners describe the most central district, founded in AD 60.
I had time to look at The City of London Art Gallery, well worth a visit.
Having introduced myself, I was surprised to be asked, “would you like an exhibition here?”
To my further surprise I quite enjoyed my time ‘in the Square Mile’, my first visit there since the days when I worked in central London.
I particularly noticed the people much changed, looked happier, more purposeful, dress was generally much more casual than in days astern, public transport improved and the place much cleaner.
My role in the court was not decisive, it clearly helped.
Perhaps more important was my friend was very appreciative of my support so this has further strengthened our working and personal relationship.
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