Italian art dealer, Gabriele Seno, is appealing a suspended sentence of one year and eight months plus $4,800 in fines after being found guilty of attempting to peddle a forged work by Josef Albers for $387,000. The painting, Study for Homage to the Square, may have seemed to be an easy work to replicate and pass off as authentic, but expert Nicholas Fox Weber (executive director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation) and Jeannette Redensek (art historian and director of Josef Albers’s catalogue raisonné), called the artworks bluff immediately.
The tell-tale sign? The signature. While to the average eye, the signature may have looked just like that of an authentic Albers, the experts undoubtedly knew it was off. Furthermore, Seno claimed his father purchased the work in 1986 but has since lost the certificate of authenticity. Redensek believes that the painting is part of a large group of forgeries that appeared on the market in the 1980s.
For almost a decade now, I have been working at our family’s gallery. My father is working on three catalogue raisonnés (Julien Dupré, Daniel Ridgway Knight, and Emile Munier), while my mother is working on the Antoine Blanchard catalogue. What was once shocking to me, that my mother and father could tell a painting was fake before it was completely unwrapped, is no longer a shock. I’ve come to learn that time, experience, and analyzing an artist’s work, sure does allow an “expert” to determine the authenticity or lack thereof by a simple brushstroke (you can check out these articles about expertise: How To Safely Navigate The Art Market – Expertise, How To Safely Navigate The Art Market – Authenticity, How to Safely Navigate The Art Market: Catalogue Raisonnés).