Crikey.com, an Australian website, goes after a local paper for reporting an internet-purchased Picasso as genuine. The story is that Dee Why bought a Picasso over the internet and brought it to an appraiser, Sue-Ann Smiles, who declared it museum worthy. Frank Campbell, the Crikey author, uses this as an occasion to offer a lesson on internet scams and the gullibility of the media:
In no time at all, the story was picked up by Sky News. The world marvelled at the buyer’s good fortune. Ms Smiles would not be drawn on the value of the picture but coyly remarked that it would pay off the mortgage.
It certainly would, if it was genuine. Dated 1937, it purports to be one of a series of important Picasso portraits of his mistress, Marie-Therese Walter. Worth perhaps $2 or $3 million.
In fact it’s worth nothing. It is a watercolour copy of an oil painted by Picasso on 4 December 1937
A rather amateurish copy, but then they nearly always are. Semi-abstract or abstract works seem easy to imitate. Picasso’s swash-buckling style, apparently casual and rough, appeals to copyists and fakers because they think errors will be seen as creative enthusiasm. In fact, Picasso is difficult to fake convincingly. His strength of composition and mastery of line are such that fakes usually look weak and labored, as this copy does