News-Antique.com - Jun 26,2008 - Are you aware that it is estimated that between 10% and 40% (depending on who you talk to) of artworks on the market are fakes or forgeries? Did you know that according to the Smithsonian Magazine, “almost 75 percent of the so-called antiques marketed through Hong Kong are said to be copies”? Did you know that according to an article from Art Business News “According to Thimmel, president of All American Collectibles, the FBI estimates that fully 70 percent of the signed memorabilia in circulation is phony”? The same article from Art Business News  includes a quote from the executive director of the International Foundation for Art Research who estimates that 80-90% of the works that they research are not by the artist who was supposed to have created the works in question.
As you can see from the statistics, art fraud is a massive problem that is much more prevalent and much more problematic than most people actually realise. The reason that there is not a greater knowledge of the number of fakes and forgeries on the market is because:
1. Dealers don’t want to report fake or forged works they have dealt with for fear of being seen as nieve or stupid.
2. Dealers don’t want to be associated with fake or forged works in case it has an negative effect on people’s perception of their business.
3. Buyers of fake or forged works don’t want to be seen as being nieve or gullable and therefore are unlikely to publicise the fact that they have purchased a fake or forged work
4. There is no obligation for people to publicise the fact that an artwork is a fake or forgery and as such many of these questionable works continue to circulate within the market.
5. A dealer will rarely report another dealer for handling fake or forged works for fear of being seen to be jealous of that other dealer or being seen to be trying to
The stigma attached with being associated with a fake or forged artwork has meant that more often than not the market will turn a blind eye to works that they consider to be questionable and will usually just refuse to deal with a work they believe to be a fake or forgery and send the owner of the work on their way. Art dealers, auction houses and galleries will rarely report a fake or forgery which means that someone trying to sell such a work will just continue moving from dealer to dealer trying to sell the work until someone takes on the work for sale. In the case where a dealer, gallery of auction house has taken on a work that they later believe to be faked or forged they will either just give the work back to the owner or just not say anything at all. Either way the questionable work is once again allowed to continue to circulate the market unchallenged.