Fine Art/Maurice V Utrillo
A friend of mine has a painting (oil) which he purchased at an auction that may be a Utrillo. How can we find out if it is authentic.
Thank you for any assistance you can provide.
Maurice Utrillo is widely considered to be one of the most forged painters in history and therefore getting an original painting authenticated is not going to be easy, or inexpensive. There are several considerations before engaging in the process of authentication. Your friend first needs to check the "Complete Works of Maurice Utrillo" by Paul Petrides for a listing of his painting. This reference book can be found at most major art museums and university libraries. If it is not in the Utrillo catalog, it is going to be a rough and expensive road to authentication.
You can send photos to Christies and Sotheby’s (better if your friend lives in New York or a major city where the art can be taken for viewing personally), and they may be able to give a preliminary opinion on the painting. If they find it of interest, they may offer to represent it for authentication based on a future contract of sale.
Jean Fabris, heir to the Utrillo estate is the self proclaimed expert on Utrillo paintings and if your friends’ painting does not pass his approval, it is unlikely the art will never get attributed to Utrillo. In 1989 he disrupted sales of suspect Utrillo’s at both Christie's and Sotheby's making a scene at the auctions by yelling “Fake!” on paintings authenticated by another expert. If your friend engages an art expert for authentication, be aware that their ultimate goal may be to seek the “stamp of approval” by Fabris. I can imagine this is not cheap. Many art experts will not accept artwork for authentication that does not have a traceable provenance. It would be helpful if your friend could get more information from the auction house as to the estate the painting came from. There are other organizational resources.
According to their website (www.ifar.org); The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) is a not-for-profit educational and research organization dedicated to integrity in the visual arts. IFAR offers impartial and authoritative information on authenticity, ownership, theft, and other artistic, legal, and ethical issues concerning art objects. They will take on a limited number of authentication projects per year. You can visit their website for more information.
There is another organization called The International Center for Art Intelligence, located in Los Angeles that by description on their website; ICAI® Inc, is a cooperative group of scientists, art conservation professionals, and art historians unique in its ability to offer a combination of complete investigative and authentication services.I have never worked with them, but I find their information interesting. You can access their site at: www.authentica.org.
I personally like the idea of combining science and history for modern authentication rather than relying on a single “authoritative” group or individual.
I hope this information is helpful.