That's right, counterfeits in the art market are by no means few and far between, just as counterfeits are present in every other commodity market, from consumer products and services to elite, sophisticated ones.
The amount of forgery in the art market increases as the financial stakes increase, i.e. as the market value of some of the artists increases, but this does not turn the art market into a market of the informed that excludes the uninformed from trading, any more than playing the stock market requires a university degree in economics, but reading audited reports or seeking expert advice.
The safest purchase
- The purchase is carried out through an authorized purchasing channel, which issues a written guarantee of authenticity without time limit
- Such a channel is usually an auction house or an authorized gallery, which, beyond the more or less coherent organization of the commercial approach, have the obligation to filter professionalism, consisting in contracting at least one "specialist adviser", having the capacity of expert certified by the Ministry of Culture, who verifies the quality of the objects received on consignment and put up for sale, having the obligation to refer to the Ministry of Culture the sale of objects likely to be classified in the categories of national movable cultural heritage.
- Auction houses do not usually limit themselves to one specialist advisor and have a permanent committee made up of several experts certified by the Ministry of Culture, depending on the diversity of objects offered for sale by the house, and sometimes this formula is maximized by contracting, by some auction houses and some heritage galleries, a number of expert consultants, each specializing in an important author or artistic movement.
- When a renowned and traditional auction house or heritage gallery guarantees authenticity by a written document, the level of security in the purchase is among the highest
- The written act of guarantee of authenticity, without time limit, may be a certificate of guarantee of authenticity (without time limit), signed by a representative of the house or gallery, including a certificate of sale (the documentary instrument of sale to which the law on the circulation of movable cultural property obliges), containing a clause guaranteeing authenticity without time limit
- Do not confuse the act of guaranteeing authenticity with the situation where the auction house or gallery does not guarantee authenticity (or guarantees it for a very short period, such as a period similar to the payment period), but adds the sale documentation (invoice, whether or not accompanied by the certificate of sale, without a clause guaranteeing authenticity) an expert's certificate or report issued by an expert certified by the Ministry of Culture - in which case, if the object is not authentic, only the natural person issuing the certificate / report is financially liable, and not the auction house or the selling gallery.
Purchase with limited level of safety
- The purchase is made through an authorized purchasing channel, such as an authorized auction house or gallery, which uses the input of the "specialist adviser", i.e. experts certified by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, in the process of putting up for sale, but does not guarantee authenticity, expressly and without time limit
- This generic case, most common among auction houses and heritage art galleries, requires a certificate of sale (a document required by the law on the circulation of movable cultural property, summarizing the parties to the sale and describing the object of the sale)
- Sometimes the rules of the auction houses provide for the guarantee of authenticity for a very short period, between 2 weeks and one month calculated from the date of the auction (and not from the date of payment by the buyer), which is practically the deadline by which the trader has to pay the depositor of the goods sold (this deadline coincides, in its short version, with the deadline by which the buyer has to pay the auctioned object), so in practice the auction house does not take responsibility for the quality of the object auctioned, paid and taken over by the buyer.
- Sometimes the auction house or heritage gallery, although not personally guaranteeing authenticity, attaches to the sale an expert's certificate or report issued by an expert certified by the Ministry of Culture - in which case, if the object is not authentic, only the financial liability of the expert natural person issuing the certificate / report is incurred
- The purchase is made from an unauthorized seller, who does not guarantee in writing the authenticity of the object sold, as a rule, with small exceptions is the situation of the heritage dealer without a gallery or shop, but also the situation of the purchase from an antique fair (bric-a-brac, flea market, etc.).
- Although it is not uncommon for these dealers to be extremely experienced and competent, they are practically unauthorized and unregistered for tax purposes and cannot guarantee in writing the authenticity of the items sold.
- There is also the variation where, for important lots, they provide the buyer with an expert's certificate / report issued by an expert certified by the Ministry of Culture with whom the dealers collaborate, but this only entails the financial liability of the expert, not that of the selling dealer.
- It is no less true that sometimes, although unauthorized and unregistered, established dealers end up enjoying good professional reputations, which they are keen to maintain by promptly returning the money of the buyer who claims, relying on the written or verbal opinion of a specialized expert, that the object purchased is not original.
- In this situation a compromise solution would be to contact a specialized expert to analyse the object and issue a certificate / expert report / authenticity report.
The establishment of the falsehood of an object can be done by:
An expert's certificate / report issued by an accredited expert specializing in the author of the item / relevant artistic trend
Experts certified by the Ministry of Culture are listed at: Register of Experts for Mobile National Cultural Heritage
Contacting AEEAR - Association of Art Experts and Appraisers in Romania, to assign the expertise work to an expert specializing in the author of the item / relevant artistic trend, who will issue an expert certificate / report
The most representative remedies in case you purchased a counterfeit item:
Contact AEEAR - Association of Art Experts and Appraisers in Romania, to further refer the matter to the competent investigative body
Direct complaint to the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the General Inspectorate of Police whose contact details can be found at the Criminal Investigation Directorate