The exceedingly well-dressed lawyer, Ed Hayes, has long and tortured relationship with the Warhol Foundation. That experience makes him a bit of an expert on the Foundation’s fiddles. He comments on Richard Dorment’s New York Review of Books essay about the Warhol authentication board in a letter to the editor:
For instance, drawings that regularly sell for tens of thousands of dollars are carried on its books for a few hundred. In 1996 it was discovered that the foundation was valuing drawings at $800 apiece at the very same time they were being priced at an average of $25,372 for an insurance claim. Photographs, which were being sold for up to $20,000, were being valued for estate purposes at a nickel apiece. Right up to the present, pictures that would sell for the cost of a big house were carried on the foundation’s books for the price of a used car. Although foundations are not legally required to update their valuations of their assets, this pattern is particularly true of Warhol’s late work, which has now become highly sought after. Even more troubling, the values attached to the artwork owned by the foundation have basically stayed the same for the last twenty years even though the work has gone up in the marketplace by many multiples.
The disputes with the foundation grow out of its desire to completely dominate the marketplace, stifle criticism, and avoid its responsibilities to the public. The foundation is supposed to be supervised by the New York State attorney general. This supervision has been inadequate at the most basic level, the most egregious example being the Attorney General’s refusal ever to order a proper accounting of the assets of the foundation.