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Fake artwork by Keith Haring

How provenance and its documentation influence the Art Market

In Cannes there are busses with paintings of Keith Haring performed by Robert Combas. This “drives us” back to a man arrested by the FBI July 8, 2021 who was allegedly selling fake artwork by Keith Haring to NYC Auction Houses like “the red painting with dancing figures” allegedly forged to look like a Keith Haring piece. Angel Pereda, 49, of Puebla, Mexico was allegedly selling fake artwork purportedly by Keith Haring arrested in New York City after two auction houses reported his attempts to sell the forgeries. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Pereda is also known as “Angel Luis Pereda Eguiluz” and had run for political office in Mexico - a man with the same name ran for mayor of San Andrés Cholula in Puebla, Mexico earlier in 2021. Pereda allegedly forged ownership papers to prove the authenticity of several pieces of art by Haring, which he hoped to sell for millions of dollars.

So what saves Robert Combas from not being imprisoned by the French National Police? For an original artwork, provenance has significant importance when sourcing buying or selling a work of art. Provenance refers to the history of the ownership of a painting or any kind of art. The word provenance is derived from the French word “provenir”, which means “to come from”. An ideal provenance captures the ownership history of a piece all the way back to the artist's studio. Information about the ownership of a painting can come from a range of genuine sources. Provenance is used to denote the history of an art object from its creation until it is acquired by a gallery or collector. Provenance can help establish an object's 'pedigree' and contribute to a better understanding of historical trends in collecting.

If it can prove the authenticity of a piece, it can greatly increase the value of the artwork. Provenance establishes an item's collectible significance beyond what it would otherwise appear to have. A piece with interesting provenance might tell a story of fortunes made and lost, famous owners, and remarkable epochs in history. Sometimes the provenance of a piece can be just as interesting as the piece itself!

Provenance must specifically describe the piece of art be valid. It should contain important information including dimensions, medium, date of creation, title, and other relevant details. Supportive would be a signed certificate or statement of any relevant authenticity, an exhibition or gallery sticker, a signed receipt, statement or certificate directly from the artist or people knowledgeable about the art, an appraisal, a letters or papers from a recognized authority, previous owners of the art, newspaper or magazine articles, illustration of the art in a book or exhibit catalogue, information about the art related by someone familiar with the art or who personally knows the artist.

On the Cote d’Azur in the South of France you can now commission an art collective to create unique and personal Impressionist art with extensive provenance documentation and key events additionally recorded on the Blockchain. The original’s provenance is a well-documented history and proves it’s the real thing and that there is only one available one on this planet.

Blockchain technology is not just for Crypto currency but can also be used for other things. You can establish who created and who owns which media. It is recorded who created a unique digital work as well as every time it changed hands a digital record is created on the Blockchain going forward. You can establish a trustworthy inherent record of a work’s provenance which is and will remain unfalsifiable. The blockchain revolution makes it possible to also create scarce and valuable digital assets like an Art-NFT which comes with their Art Installation.

Key facts recorded on the Blockchain together with the documentation available exclusively to the owner makes any new Art Installation a genuine painting inspired by impressions of van Gogh, Renoir, Bonnard, Monet, Gauguin, Cézanne, Signac, and Modigliani unique with potential for value appreciation. Such Art Installations become and further will remain “non-fungible” in their own right.

Once identified as a genuine piece of art, through provenance one can establish ownership and prove uniqueness, Unique things are always scarce or rare and Scarcity drives up value.

The master forger Beltracchi who was arrested 27 August 2010 did not copy existing and well-known paintings but painted his own paintings imitating the style of the artists in question. He made up the titles and motives or claimed that a painting of his was a “lost work” that was only known by its title in old documents or catalogues. February 23, 2015, the CBS News program 60 Minutes even interviewed Wolfgang Beltracchi after his release from prison in Germany which only added to his fame. Funny enough, today, some of his paintings, signed with his own name and provided with his own provenance documentation are now estimated to be worth millions. This goes to prove that genuine provenance documents can establish and significantly drive-up value of art also under most peculiar circumstances.

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