Fear, Forgeries and Authentication Board Liability Insurance

The Economist has a familiar story on art authentication boards and the fear of litigation:

Last year the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation dissolved its authentication committee rather than “jeopardise our health and well-being”, says Jack Cowart, its director.

But this one contains the counter trend. The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation is increasing its liability insurance after receiving threatening letters from the lawyers of three collectors who owned work by Diebenkorn that they declined to certify.

Richard Grant, the director, expects to protect his authentication board’s seven experts with millions of dollars of liability insurance by the time a comprehensive list of genuine works, known as a catalogue raisonné, is published in about three years. The expense is worth it, he says. Authentication reassures buyers, which stimulates sales.

Sales typically increase, sometimes dramatically, upon publication of a catalogue raisonné because buyers like knowing which pieces the artist’s estate or other authorities have declared genuine.

Collectors, Artists and Lawyers: Fear of Litigation is Hobbling the Art Market (The Economist)