The New York Times goes for quaint when it covers the Salvador Dalí works for sale in a California thrift shop even as the story veers into bitter infighting among experts and the observation that many Dalí collectors are unconcerned by the problems of authentication:
The works were given to the Salvation Army by an anonymous donor, and the man behind a two-year-old appraisal document — which suggests that they are worth more than $76,000 — says that he cannot be sure that they are the same pieces he evaluated and sold. Appropriately, perhaps, the answer to the question of whether the thrift-store Dalís are real Dalís turns out to be as elusive as the memory of a dream.
Dalí’s tremendous popularity, stemming from his accessible if hallucinatory style and relentless self-promotion, helped make him one of the most widely copied artists of the 20th century (as did his habit of signing blank sheets of paper for money).
“There’s nothing certain in the Dalí market,” said Bernard Ewell, an appraiser in Santa Fe, N.M., who specializes in works by Dalí. It’s impossible, just on the basis of a dealer’s reputation, to be sure you’re getting the real thing, he said. “It’s not that simple.”
Joseph Nuzzolo, president of the Salvador Dalí Society, an appraisal service and gallery in Redondo Beach, Calif., added that though “a lot of people want to have an original Dalí, a lot of them get burned when they buy a fake.” So any unknown piece presented as the artist’s work calls for scrutiny, especially in a setting as unorthodox as this. […]
In Mr. Walker’s view, it wouldn’t matter to some collectors if the works were in fact fake. “People just love” the stuff, he said of all things Dalíesque, though he used a less polite word. (He is not himself a fan of the artist.) “I once told a divorcing couple that a Dalí they were fighting over probably wasn’t real, and they didn’t care, they fought over it anyway.”
Part of the difficulty of authenticating Dalí’s work is the result of in-fighting among self-proclaimed experts, who seem to delight in undercutting one another’s opinions. Frank Hunter, director of the Salvador Dalí Archives, an appraisal service in New York, said Mr. Hochman and Mr. Nuzzolo “hate each other” and “act like children” and “are always trying to pull me into it.” (The two men confirmed that they are not fond of each other.)
Mr. Hunter and Mr. Ewell, the art appraiser in Santa Fe, are testifying on opposite sides of a continuing $100 million class action lawsuit against Park West Gallery in Southfield, Mich. They differ on whether the Dalí works the gallery sold on cruise ships are bogus. Mr. Hochman is a defendant in a related defamation suit for unflattering things he said about Park West on an arts Web site.
So Surreal: Thrift Shop Art May Be By Dali (New York Times)