Is it the real McCoy? How to spot an art forgery on eBay

Alma's most recently bootlegged piece of art

Multiple copies of this piece were found for sale on EBAY. The Original is SOLD, No Licensed prints Contracted.

In the dozen years I’ve been dealing with the online art market, forgery has always been an issue. Sites like eBay have long been flooded with sweatshop copies of old masters. In fact, that is part and parcel why EBSQ was founded: it gave original artists, via the EBSQ keyword, a way to be easily found amid thousands upon thousands of copies.

With the advent of widespread and affordable giclee printing, forgery has become an even bigger issue. It’s no longer just the old masters being copied, but emerging and mid-career artists as well. Now, some copies are hand-painted by other artists as their own compositions. Beginning artists often don’t understand that this is both unethical and illegal since there is a long tradition of learning to draw and paint by copying other drawings and paintings. In these cases, these aren’t technically forgeries, but rather copyright infringement. And in many cases, this is “fairly” easy to deal with a simple C & D. What is much harder to nip in the bud are the systematic mass-produced forgeries done by people pretending to be the original artist (or a gallery), who are simply printing out (and possibly hand-touching up) copies.

Case in point is the work of EBSQ Artist Alma Lee. For almost a year, she has been fighting an eBay Powerseller who has been selling hundreds of copies of her work. Alma took all of the proper steps. She contacted eBay multiple times. She filed all the forms. Copyright infringement notices were filed by her and multiple parties, all reporting the forged auctions. Phone calls were made. Even the buyers of her originals got involved, speaking up on her behalf. And eBay did…nothing. Apparently, Alma doesn’t bring in enough money to warrant losing a Powerseller over.  So, the fraud continues with eBay’s apparent blessing.

So. Let’s assume you want to buy original art on eBay direct from the original artist. How then, do you know that what you’re getting is the Real McCoy and not one of these fakes, particularly BEFORE you are parted from your money? Alma put together a blog post listing the Top 10 Ways to Spot a Forgery.

Take a look at her list. Did she get it right? What else (if anything) would you add?

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  1. #1 by Sherry K. on March 28, 2012 - 8:24 am

    This was really great! Thank you Alma and Amie for the info…(-:

  2. #2 by naquaiya on March 28, 2012 - 11:46 am

    This is scary and outrageous. Thanks Alma and Amie for the article and links.

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