May 13, 2014

ARCA Alum ('13) Gerald Fitzgerald publishes opinion piece in Art Papers on art market due diligence concerning provenance and the public record

ARCA Alum '13 and trial lawyer Gerald Fitzgerald published an opinion piece, "Give Us CPR" (May/June issue, 2014) in Art Papers (here's the first two paragraphs, you can read the rest of the text online):
A call for art market due diligence, concerning provenance and the public record. 
Provenance is the origin and history of ownership of a painting or object, and it is essential to determining the object's authenticity, monetary value, and secure title. Although reveling in sales boosted both by new market interest and freshly minted dotcom billionaires, the international art and antiquities market will soon stumble badly unless it embraces new technologies to centralize and to radically increase the scope, quality, and authority of provenance research.
The art market currently generates about $60 billion annually. It does so without meaningful regulation and is myopic in the intelligent use of contemporary tools. It functions almost precisely as it did in the early 19th century. Trust still governs in an increasingly untrustworthy environment. As a result this market is rife with forgery, fakery, looting, and sales of stolen objects, all accompanied by a morass of litigation. The way out of this quagmire lies not with increased legal action but in sewing shut the gaping holes in provenance research that permit such chicanery. The creation of a nonprofit Center for Provenance Research (CPR), funded by a small levy on market sales, is sorely needed to vet the legitimacy of what is traded. The greatest deterrent to fraud on the market is a decreasing ability to get away with it.


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