Andy Warhol Signature Exam

The surging market in fake prints

I came across an article in the New York Times entitled: “Art Experts Warn of a Surging Market in Fake Prints”. The gist of this news item is that criminals have gotten especially interested in the growing market for prints by FAMOUS artists. For example, the reporter mentions a limited edition of fake Roy Lichtenstein prints that “…can fetch anywhere from $5,000 to $80,000 today”.

My response?: Why are people spending that kind of money on prints to begin with?

I can think of only three reasons:
1. Buyers intend to re-sell the art for even more money at some later date; i.e., it’s a speculative investment, no different than any other tradeable asset.

2. The buyers want trophies (aka conspicuous consumption to enhance social standing).

3. The buyers genuinely like the art, and — for them — money is no object, so they purchase what they like.

Now, can we all agree on this?: No one deserves to be swindled. Fraud is a terrible thing. Period. The end.

I will also state, however, that it’s a little strange to spend SERIOUS COIN for any kind of art print, whether it’s signed or not.

There is no shortage of wonderful prints by living artists.  Most of these people earn very little money from their creative endeavors.

It is therefore particularly galling that a New York art dealer recently spent $100,000 for two prints by Andy Warhol. (Or so she thought.) We know why this happened: The criminals smelled money and took advantage of her.

Nevertheless, her business logic was impeccable: Her customers are no doubt so wealthy, she would be able to re-sell the art to them for probably twice what she paid. (Fortunately, according to the Times, she got her money back.)

Again, the assets in question are two pieces of paper bearing pictures that were mechanically reproduced. So, if these were “authentic prints”, they were worth the money, but since they were fakes, well… they had no worth all.


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