Fine Art/Something's Wrong With My Picasso
I recntly bought a purported pencil-signed Picasso "original lithograph" via a telvised auction run by Fine Art Treasures Gallery of Pasadena. When I finally received the artwork I was surprised to see that it looked more like a picture from an old magazine than a piece of fine art. Under slight magnification I can clearly see the dot pattern one can often see with the naked eye when viewing pictures or photos in magazines, newspapers and books. My question is a simple one: Is this an original lithograph? If your answer is no, to what extent have I been ripped off. In other words, what's the difference in value between an "original lithograph" of something versus an "offset lithograph" copy of the original. I paid over $5,000 for the item and the company refuses to take it back, claiming a crawl across the bottom of the TV screen indicated all sales were final and no returns or refunds would even be considered. There was no crawl or even mention by the auctioneer of the supposed no returns no refunds policy. No rational person would risk losing that much money buying something virtually sight unseen. After all, how can anyone distinguish a real Picasso from a copy by viewing a television screen. Thank you in advance for answering my two questions.
I hope you are doing well and thank you for your question. In response to your question on originality of the Picasso print you purchased from Fine Art Treasures Gallery; I regret to tell you that it is not an original lithograph. It is most likely an offset lithograph; a photo-mechanical reproduction of the original work. Though I cannot state with absolute certainty that it was not hand signed by Picasso, I personally doubt it. Picasso did not hand sign offsets.
Picasso, Chagall, Miro, Dali and Matisse prints are the most copied and their signatures are the most forged of the modern artists. Interestingly, these are the very artists that Fine Art Treasures Gallery represents for sale on their website.
Another interesting coincidence is that the same people who own Fine Art Treasures Gallery also own an art printing company called Finer Image Editions in Van Nuys California, (www.finerimage.com), where according to their website: "Finer Image Editions is a digital printmaking studio in Los Angeles committed to creating museum quality Iris Giclée prints."
If the old saying "misery loves company" is true, you have a great deal of company in the dissatisfaction of dealing with this group.
The Better Business Bureau currently has 35 complaints against Fine Art Treasures Gallery and has assigned it an F rating, which is the lowest rating a company can receive. Their statement on this rating is:
"We strongly question the company’s reliability for reasons such as that they have failed to respond to complaints, their advertising is grossly misleading, they are not in compliance with the law’s licensing or registration requirements, their complaints contain especially serious allegations, or the company’s industry is known for its fraudulent business practices."
The BBB summation of complaints about Fine Art Treasures Gallery is:
"Complainants allege the company misrepresents the quality or value of items sold. Some complainants allege the company fails to ship ordered, paid for products. Other customers complain that lithographs or other art objects sold are not authentic, or arrive broken, damaged or without signatures by the artist as agreed. Some complainants receive incorrect merchandise. One complainant alleges he purchased a painting for $10,000 which was advertised as an original Pissarro. Upon delivery of the painting he discovered the painting was not as implied by the salesperson. The painting was in fact a Pissarro, but not the great artist Pissarro; instead it was by his grandson.'
'The company responds to some complaints by refusing to make refunds, advising clients that the auction they purchased from was an absolute final sale auction, and the no refund policy is in compliance with Missouri State laws. Allegations of deception or misrepresentation are generally not addressed."
There are also numerous other complaints about the company on other websites such as: Ripoffreport.com and Complaints.com. You may want to visit these sites and the BBB to lodge your own complaint.
Unfortunately, you may not have recourse to get your money back. Their website has a T&C page that explicitly states that they do not warrant their information and that all sales are final.
Ultimately; the written authentication of art and artists signatures is only as good as the reputation and credibility of the person who signs it.
With this in mind; your print’s value is based on an offset lithograph, (probably open edition), with a signature that most likely cannot be authenticated by a recognized and credible Picasso expert. I’m afraid if you decide to sell the piece, it will not bring even a fraction of the value you paid.
I cannot imagine how many people have purchased art through these TV auctions. I hope your question will alert others who are considering it.
Frank, you should contact the FBI as stated in the article I have inserted below:
TV Fine Arts Auction Show Investigated For Fraud
Sep 7, 2006 4:51 pm US/Pacific (CBS) LOS ANGELES The art auction television and Internet show "Fine Art Treasures Gallery" was being investigated Thursday on suspicion of art fraud, according to the FBI.
Federal investigators served four search warrants and seven seizure warrants as part of investigation by the FBI's Art Crime Team, U.S. Attorney's Office, Internal Revenue Service and Los Angeles Police Department's Art Crime Team.
Fine Art Treasures Gallery was also doing business as Morei Inc. and Fine Art Network Inc.
The show is televised live across the country and can be seen worldwide on the Internet.
Anyone who thinks they may have been victimized by the company was asked to call the FBI at (310) 477-6565 or the LAPD at (213) 485-2524