Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board

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The Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc. was a private corporation that certified the authenticity of works by the artist, Andy Warhol, from 1995 to early 2012.


The organization was created in 1995 in association with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.[1]

The Board, based in New York City, consisted of six members, including art historians and curators and those who personally knew Warhol and his work, and met three times a year to examine works.[2] Appraisals took one month and ARTnews reported that around 10 to 20% of submitted works were 'considered questionable.[2] They did not appraise works' value.[2] The Board did not discuss how they operated, citing privacy concerns.[2]

Early board members included American art curator David Whitney (who died in 2005) and Warhol's friend, designer Jed Johnson who was killed in the TWA Flight 800 explosion in 1996.[3]

The Board received criticism for its operating methods,[1] which differed from other authentication boards, and its seeming arbitrariness in judging whether or not a work was an authentic Warhol (though, given Warhol's working methods, what constitutes an actual work by Warhol can be open for debate).[4] Specific controversies involved 'Brillo boxes' produced after Warhol's death and a 1964 silkscreen self-portrait.[5][4][6]

The controversy over the Board's decision-making was the subject of a November 2003 feature in Vanity Fair (magazine) by Michael Shnayerson.[3] Shnayerson quotes art dealer John Woodward's opinion that Warhol is 'the most faked' artist in America and writes 'Often, as a result, the Warhol board is simply blamed as the messenger of bad news to hoodwinked buyers'.[3]


In October 2011, the Andy Warhol Foundation Board of Directors dissolved the Authentication Board.[1][7] Speaking to The New York Observer, Warhol Foundation President Joel Wachs explained the reasons for the decision, saying the Authentication Board was subjected to legal action '10 or so times' in its 15 years of operation. While it 'won every single one of those lawsuits, [...] the process was extraordinarily expensive, costing us at least $10 million defending ourselves. Eventually, we decided that we wanted our money to go to artists and not to lawyers'.[8]

The Foundation continues to support development of the Warhol catalogues raisonné, which encompass judgements about the authenticity of individual works.[1] Wachs explains that the catalogue project is primarily scholarly and not explicitly connected to the art market. The editors review works submitted for possible inclusion, but do not render judgement outside the context of the catalogues themselves.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Burns, Charlotte (2011-10-20). "Warhol foundation shuts its authentication board". The Art Newspaper. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  2. ^ a b c d Maroney, Tyler (January 2002). "Much More Than Fifteen Minutes". ARTnews. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  3. ^ a b c Shnayerson, Michael (2003). "Judging Andy". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  4. ^ a b Dorment, Richard (2009-10-22). "What Is an Andy Warhol?". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  5. ^ Kinsella, Eileen (November 2009). "The Brillo Box Scandal". ARTnews. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  6. ^ Polsky, Richard (2003). "Art Market Guide 2003". artnet. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  7. ^ "Statement from The Board of Directors". 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
  8. ^ Grant, Daniel (2014-04-06). "New Legislation Would Protect Art Authenticators Against 'Nuisance' Lawsuits". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2014-10-01.

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