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Buying On An Auction And Finding It Is Fake

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sarah_louise | 14:03 Fri 08th Feb 2013 | Law
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I have an internet auction saleroom buying account. (Not Ebay)
I bought a painting during 2012 but found it is not by the artist listed in the catalogue.This came to light when I tried to sell it and found by the experts it is a fake copy. The Auction House will not provide details about the seller under the data protecton act..
What action can I take having now notified the auctioneers.

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What kettledrum gives is the 'industry standard' for artists' names in cataloguing and offers for sale in auction. It is what the trade understands anyway, and always has, but the condition avoids doubt and informs those who are not trade or experienced buyers. How was the lot catalogued? If the full name of the artist was given in the catalogue and without...
02:28 Sun 10th Feb 2013
Just curious - what if, after buying it, you'd discovered that it was a long lost Old Master. Would you be so anxious to locate the original buyer?
Unless you say what the auction site is or post a copy of their T&Cs I doubt anyone can give a meaningful answer.
not remotely the same rojash - sarah has been sold a fake item presumably for the price of a real one.

but she bought it in good faith, if the item turned out to be worth more then the seller cannot complain and has no comeback - they offered it for a price and got that for it - it was up to them to research its worth.
The section below come from Tennants Auctioneers Terms of Business:

3. Attribution of Pictures

(a) If the forename(s) (or asterisks where not known) and surname of the artist are given, this indicates that in the opinion of Tennants the picture is a work by the named artist.

(b) If the initials of the forename(s) and the surname of the artist are given, this indicates that in the opinion of Tennants the picture is a work of the period of the named artist and may be wholly or in part his work.

(c) If the surname of the artist is given, this indicates that in the opinion of Tennants the picture is a work of the same school of the named artist, or by one of his followers, or in his style and of uncertain date.

(d) The term ‘Bears signature’ indicates that in the opinion of Tennants this is not the signature of the artist.

(e) All other terms are self-explanatory.

I think all auction houses have their own code for indicating how 'genuine' an art work is. Are you sure that they didn't cover themselves by giving an attribution which less than the equivalent of (a) above?

What kettledrum gives is the 'industry standard' for artists' names in cataloguing and offers for sale in auction. It is what the trade understands anyway, and always has, but the condition avoids doubt and informs those who are not trade or experienced buyers.

How was the lot catalogued? If the full name of the artist was given in the catalogue and without more ('after', 'studio of', 'follower of' etc) then the picture is represented as being by the artist. You have contacted the auction house. It will have conditions relating to forgeries sold as genuine and the reimbursement of buyers. The auctioneers are liable in the first instance; they are the ones who made the representation to you. The vendor may very well say, truthfully, that he relied on the auctioneers to correctly attribute the work, but even if he represented it as genuine to them that does not absolve them for their failure to see that it was not and any consequent loss. If the auctioneers still say it is genuine you'll have to sue them, pitting your experts against them and their experts. The Antiques Trade Gazette occasionally reports on such actions. These do not make happy reading. The costs involved can be enormous
PS To deal with rojash's example: It has happened that a major auction house has sold a work which it did not represent as by the artist himself but by a later follower; a copyist or someone imitating his style. The buyer then found out that, in the view of all leading experts, it was genuine and promptly sold it to some museum. The vendor promptly sued the auction house on the grounds that it had failed in its duty to him, to make proper endeavours to obtain the best price, and was negligent. Now that is a true bill; had the auction house not been negligent, but had seen the work for what it was, it would have advertised and catalogued it as by the artist. This would have attracted buyers of the artist's work, who would have bid for it at the right price. As it was, such buyers would have dismissed the lot as of no interest.
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The response was exactly as predicted by kettledrum from my advisor but I wont add any more yet as the auction house are being very helpful and asked for return of the picture for further examination.

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