I have an interest in art and artists and those who make a living selling and re-selling their works. The thriving international art market has led to an equally robust industry of art authenticators and appraisers. As court cases nationwide illustrate, those persons holding themselves out as expert authenticators and appraisers face certain liabilities when their opinions are challenged. While authentication of a work of art and appraising a work of art are related, the concepts are different. Authentication is the act of establishing or confirming the something is authentic i.e. that the claims made by or about the thing are true. In the fine art world the authentication would most likely be that the sculpture or painting was painted or sculpted by a particular artist or that the artwork was original versus a copy or an altered version of the original piece of art. Whereas, the appraisal of a work of art consists of establishing its value, once the art work has been authenticated. The legal liabilities potentially impacting the authenticator, appraiser, gallery owner or other seller of the art work are most commonly found under such varied tort theories as disparagement, defamation, negligence, negligent misrepresentation and fraud.
The artist personally has an interest in having his or her identity established regarding artwork. Besides the intrinsic value associated with the attribute of having created the artwork, an artist in California is also entitled to compensation every time one of the artist’s works is resold. Additionally, an artist has rights to compensation should his or her artwork be altered or destroyed without the artist’s permission even though the artist no longer owns the artwork.
Although, my interest in this area has to this point been largely academic and personal, I am willing to sit down with you as the artist, gallery owner, authenticator or appraiser and discuss your legal options and assist you in taking whatever steps are necessary to fully protect your interests whether as a consultant or as a lawyer or by personally conducting an investigation as to the merits of your matter.