A genuine Picasso
Stories abound on the web of people who have purchased a "long hidden masterpiece" by world famous artists such as Pablo Picasso. As I mentioned yesterday, fakes and frauds abound in the art world. Some are relatively easy to distinguish, others not so much. A quick online search will reveal hundreds of stories about fake artwork, about those that make fake artwork and those that pass it off as the real thing. So is the signature on a piece of artwork what makes it valuable, or the quality of the artwork? An interesting question was posed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Thomas Hoving as recounted in Provenance
"If a fake is so expert that even after the most thorough and trustworthy examination its authenticity is still in doubt, is it or is it not a satisfactory work of art as if it were unequivocally genuine?"
To Picasso himself the answer would be yes. "If the counterfeit is a good one, I should be delighted," he once said. "I'd sit right down and sign it." In the 1940's a dealer asked Picasso if he would put his signature on an unsigned painting of his that a client owned. Picasso agreed, but when he saw the work, he realized it was not actually his.
"How good a client is the owner? he asked the dealer.
"One of my best." the dealer replied.
In that case, the painting is mine." said Picasso, and signed it.