I sent an email out to my friends (recently, but pre-blog) chronicling a 13 and 1/2 hour day/night trip: "John and Bob's Most Excellent Adventure" in which we drove up to visit a friend of ours, really more of John's, but still.
Our friend is a real pack rat. He buys all sorts of different things, especially at auctions. All kinds of stuff, his house is stuffed with stuff! He is also a very bright man. He has had an interesting life, he has been rich and he has been poor. Unfortunately he is now poor. Please no: "If he's so smart how come he's poor?" I will answer that question by saying "life's circumstances..." He got dealt an unusual hand by life... And maybe made a bad decision or two along the way. I have made bad decisions...
It took us HOURS to look at his stuff. But, pretty quickly I found I was most interested in his fine art collection (although the combo brass knuckles with swing-out knife was very cool!, he bought THAT from a down-and-out biker). He needs money fast. And he had four pieces of interesting art works that got my attention:
-- a possible signed Picasso painting on paper
-- a possible, but unsigned Marc Chagall on paper
-- a possible Wolf Kahn (by chance I learned about him via a ZH ad)
-- a possible N. Solidoro (sp?)
Contemporary art is "not my thing", but I wanted to look over these items, that if real, perhaps I would buy. If real.
I CAREFULLY looked over the "Picasso" and the "Chagall". They are paintings not prints. I had never seen either a Picasso nor a Chagall up close. Again, non-expert in anything Robert is your writer... But, up VERY CLOSE (and outside their frames), even I could see that they were beautifully executed pieces of work. I used to be a photo interpreter for a part of .gov, so I can LOOK at things and SEE them.
I DO KNOW that there is a LOT of fakery in the art world. Lots of fakes from our friends in China. I am not an expert in anything, but I did not "just fall off the turnip truck yesterday."
I have a friend who runs an art gallery close to where I live. She told me she was too busy to want to even to promise to look at these items should my friend want to bring them down (see my earlier article: "Too Busy...") but, to be fair to her, she IS very busy and this kind of art does not pertain directly to her own work.
So, I went to do some work (aagh! work is a four letter word for me!) on my own. I called another art person in town that does restoration, etc., and asked her how one goes about getting art authenticated (that is, certified by an expert if it is real). She referred me to IFAR.org in NYC. So, I called them up. The lady I spoke with there told me that, yes, they can authenticate contemporary art, including Picasso and Chagall. For $3000 each. It is a two step process, $400 for a "first look" and if THEY like what they see, the second step is $2600 more for the complete study.
I then passed along all of this to our friend, who is madly researching on his own (he already has, for example, a collection digital signatures of many artists that he has put together, like I said, he is very smart, also a good "Technical Trader", again please no "If he's so smart...").
My friend E. and I JUST NOW were talking about our friend's art. He is a businessman and has some art that he took as payments on debts to him by people who could not pay. He has originals by fairly famous Latin American artists that I have never heard of. E. just told me to "roll the dice" on the Picasso and offer our friend, say, $1000 for it...
The purpose of this article is to help my friend get liquid, not to try and peddle art to anyone. To get ANY of his work authenticated would cost $3000 per item.
I am out of ideas, other than the one that E. just rolled passed me.
If any of you have ideas on how to help my friend get liquid by selling his art, please email me! Somewhere I have John's two photos from his i-Phone of the "Picasso" and the "Chagall" that he sent me via email.