Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board
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 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. Appraisals took one month and ARTnews reported that around 10 to 20% of submitted works were 'considered questionable. They did not appraise works' value. The Board did not discuss how they operated, citing privacy concerns.
The Board received criticism for its operating methods, 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). Specific controversies involved 'Brillo boxes' produced after Warhol's death and a 1964 silkscreen self-portrait.
The controversy over the Board's decision making was the subject of a November 2003 feature in Vanity Fair (magazine) by Michael Shnayerson. 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'.
On the day of October 19, 2011, in a statement by the Board of Directors of the Andy Warhol Foundation, it was announced that the Authentication Board was to be completely dissolved in early 2012 in order to maximize its charitable contributions to the arts.
The Foundation will continue to work on Warhol's catalogue raisonné. In 2011, Foundation President Joel Wachs said 'The catalogue raisonné serves a non-market purpose: Andy’s legacy and Warhol scholarship' and while researchers will review requests for artworks to be included in the catalogue they 'will do so in their own time'.
Speaking to The New York Observer in April, 2014, Wachs elaborated on the reasons for the Board's dissolution, saying the Board was faced with legal action '10 or so times' in its 15 years of operation, and while they 'won every single one of those lawsuits, but 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'.
Following similar dissolutions of authentication boards for Keith Harring, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the New York State Legislature passed a bill in May, 2014, that will 'make lawsuits against art authenticators more difficult to win and to punish “nuisance” lawsuits'.
- Burns, Charlotte (2011-10-20). "Warhol foundation shuts its authentication board". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
- Maroney, Tyler (January 2002). "Much More Than Fifteen Minutes". ARTnews. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
- Shnayerson, Michael (2003). "Judging Andy". Vanity Fair (magazine). Retrieved 2014-10-01.
- Dorment, Richard (2009-10-22). "What Is an Andy Warhol?". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
- Kinsella, Eileen (November 2009). "The Brillo Box Scandal". ARTnews. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
- Polsky, Richard (2003). "Art Market Guide 2003". artnet. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
- "Statement from The Board of Directors". Warholfoundation.org. 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- Grant, Daniel (2014-04-06). "New Legislation Would Protect Art Authenticators Against 'Nuisance' Lawsuits". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
- O'Donnell, Nicholas (2014-05-01). "New York Authentication Protection Bill Passes Senate Committee". Art Law Report. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
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