Mould: Art Trappers Prey Upon Amateurs’ Greed

Philip Mould
Philip Mould

Philip Mould has built an enviable reputation for nosing out works by famous artists that had been previously overlooked. Unfortunately, he’s also created a popular fantasy that unscrupulous dealers are exploiting. Mould calls the practice trapping and it involves selling a fake work as one that might be genuine.

“This is art world equivalent of a computer virus – a nasty deception which can cause indiscriminate mischief, disappointment and serious knock-on damage to the perception of the art market,” he said. “This dark market is a really serious problem. It is aimed at inexperienced buyers and destroying the integrity of the art market.

“These people may not be selling the works as genuine, but they are still duping their buyers, by suggesting it might be, when they know it has been knocked up in the last three months. There is immense dishonesty.”

[…]  They tend to concentrate on two types of works: drawings or minor paintings that purport to be, or were deeply reminiscent of, the works of great artists such as Monet, Renoir, Turner, Cézanne, Picasso, Chagall and Lowry; and more substantial and finished works by a second tier of painters, such as Winston Churchill, Kurt Schwitters, Augustus John, and those from the Newlyn School. […]

Meanwhile, the Kurt Schwitters archive in Hannover, Germany, is concerned about a rising number of trapper works, sold with the suggestion that they might be genuine, emanating from London. It has amassed a dossier of dozens of suspected trappers which have come from Britain in recent years, including seven known to come from the same trader. The works, which are collages, were typically sold for around £150 and signed “Kurt Schwitters” or “K Schwitters”. If genuine, such works would be worth £250,000.

Art experts warn of the rise of the ‘trappers’ (Telegraph)