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November 11, 2003

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Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board

Sunday Telegraph magazine Feb 8, 2004

Next month, Paul Warhola, Andy Warhol's brother is selling off his
equivalent to
the family silver. He is hoping to swell his family's coffers by more
than $3.5
million
by selling some paintings that he was given by Warhol when he was a
teenager - a
series charmingly called The Nosepickers. He feels sad that having clung
on to the
twelve paintings for more than half a century he is now forced to let
them go. Yet
Warhola, a chicken farmer who drives a pick up truck and lives in a
bungalow near
Pittsburgh, where Warhol grew up, wants to leave some money for his
grandchildren.
He should have been rich, he feels. The`Warhol legacy is estimated to be
worth more
than $700 million and some of those administering it get paid more than
$1.2 million
every year from selling paintings in its collection - yet all Paul has
ever received
from his brother's estate is $200,000. Warhola, a jovial 80-year-old
Father Christmas
lookalike who is as proud of his brother as Terry-Major Ball was John
Major's, does
not give the impression of being naturally grumpy. Yet he cannot forget
the day
that Andy died in February 1987. "I remember me and my other brother
John went
round to Andy's house in New York the day after he had died" he recalls,
in
a voice reminiscent of Andy's plaintive drawl, "It was at 7.30 in the
morning
yet already the executors were inside rummaging around for what they
could lay their
hands on. I suspected they had been there even while Andy was still
dying in hospital.
They didn't want to see us at all." Suddenly any frailty in his voice
vanishes:
"I don't think much of them - they're a bunch of crooks!" he barks. "They
do things just to suit themselves. I don't approve of it - they have
hurt a lot
of people and Andy would never have approved of that." Warhola is not
the only
one who feels bitter about the management of what is probably the
richest artist's
estate in the world. The Warhol Foundation has been accused in the past
of mismanaging
the paintings and other assets left to it in Warhol's will. "We need to
protect
not only the charitable dollars but also the national treasure of Andy
Warhol's
artistic legacy," said Dennis Vacco, former New York State Attorney,
a few
years ago. But now the tide of criticism against the Warhol Foundation
is rising
so fast that as many 30 people, including some of Warhol's friends and
former colleagues
are threatening to take legal action against it. They are particularly
angered by
the behaviour of the Warhol Authentication Board that was set up by the
Warhol Foundation
in 1994 in order to assess which works are genuine Warhols and which are
fakes.
The job of the Warhol Authentication Board, is, it must be said, a
thankless one.
Warhol's prints are, along with Mcdonald's golden arches and the
cursive script
of the Coca Cola logo among the most widely recognised symbols of
American culture
- and the most easily reproduced. Truckloads of fakes and forgeries
appear at the
headquarters of the Warhol Authentication Board in New York every year.
As a result,
if you want to sell a Warhol, it is unlikely anybody is going to touch
it without
it without it having been given the Board's seal of approval. Yet, a
growing number
of people are complaining that the Board, made up of four people who
mostly have
an academic rather than a personal knowledge of Warhol, have made the
wrong decisions,
and have turned down perfectly genuine works - works they were given by
the artist,
works that he signed, works that appear beyond doubt to be by the
Troll-like maestro
himself.
Warhol himself is to blame for much of the confusion. When he was once
asked why he didn't sign some of his work, he answered: "because I
didn't make
it." How therefore does one judge when a Warhol is a Warhol and when it
is
by one of the umpteen staff and helpers he employed to help him print
his works,
and which even included, at times, the man who swept his floors?
Warhol's unapologetically
lazy way of working, which provoked outrage in his day and yet was also
one the
main reasons he became so famous, has continued to cause mayhem because
sometimes
the Authentication Board will sanction works created in this way as "by
Andy
Warhol," but at other times, not. Its decisions, some claim, are guided
purely
by self-interest. Compared to other artists estates, The Warhol
Foundation in owning
a huge stash of the artist's work which is buys and sells is in an
unusual position.
Last year alone it sold more than $30 million of Warhol's work - turning
it into
a Gulliver in a land of Lilliput Warhol dealers. During his lifetime
Warhol was
believed to have been responsible for creating as many as 100,000
works - possibly
the most that any artist has ever created. "Making money is art and
working
is art and good business is the best art of all," he said. Yet if the
Foundation
sanctioned all these works there would be a danger that they would all
not be worth
very much - those in its own collection included. Although technically
there is
no connection between the Warhol Foundation and the Warhol Board,
Vincent Fremont,
sales agent of the art collection who earns a six percent cut of
everything sold,
was previously in charge of authentications and is still a consultant to
the board,
demonstrating - argue its critics - that the two outfits are still
closely allied
Leading the campaign against the Authentication Board are two men who
own almost
identical Warhol pictures - which would have been worth millions had the
Board not
deemed them to be fakes. Richard Ekstract, the billionaire publisher of
the upmarket
monthly magazine, Homes and Cottages and Joe Simon, producer of the
Oscar nominated
Richard III both own red self-portrait screenprints of Warhol made in
1965. Ekstract's
version was a gift from the artist. Warhol and Ekstract collaborated on
making some
video art in the early 1960's,
and Warhol provided him with an acetate, a type of photo negative used
in screenprinting,
as a thank you for lending him $15,000 worth of video equipment. Warhol told Ekstract that he could have it made up as a
series of
pictures - so long as he didn't have to pay for it and was shown the
results. Unorthodox
as this deal sounds there are a number of people who can remember Warhol
striking
it including his manager at the time, Paul Morrissey and the curator of
his first
Retrospective in 1965 Sam Green. ."Andy was just so lazy about his art,"
said Morrissey, "But as Warhol's manager I spoke with Ekstract on many
occasions
and I was the one who negotiated the arrangement with Ekstract."
Warhol's
printer Jean-Paul Russell said Warhol always farmed out his work for
other people
to do because that was part of his quasi communist philosophy of how art
ought to
be produced. "I had never seen Andy Warhol even once come down to the
studio
to watch the work being printed," said Jean Paul Russell. "Sometimes he
would ring up to give his instructions over the telephone. Warhol gave
direction
but always left an opening for input from others." ." Sam Green, curator
of the Warhol Retrospective in 1965 and long considered a leading
authority of the
artists work, was shown one of the portraits by Warhol; "Andy was
pushing for
it because he said that it exemplified his new technique for having
works produced
without his personal touch, he wanted to get away from that. At the time
he was
ambivalent about his personal authorship. In any case, the painting is
familiar
to and known by me." Many at the Tate Gallery believe the pictures to be
genuine.
It used a Warhol made from the same acetates/photo-negatives to
publicise its
mammoth retrospective exhibition of Warhol's work two years ago -
plastering it
on to the top of buses and onto tee shirts and mugs. Last year the US
Government
even deemed it sufficiently iconic to print it onto the 37 cent postage
stamp. Yet
even these prestigious endorsements have failed to convince the Board.
"I feel
very angry," said Ekstract last week. "The collaboration I had with Andy
Warhol was undeniable. There are even photos to prove it apart from the
testimonies
of those worked with him for decades.."
Ekstract has employed one of New York's sharpest litigators, Steve
Pesner to begin
proceedings against the Board. It is a brave move - few have dared take
on the Goliath
of the art world and their phalanx of Pretorian legal guards. Whatever
the outcome
of the trial it will have far reaching ramifications; artists since the
Renaissance
have got other people to execute their ideas, too, and the court case
could usher
in the possibility that their work will have to be reassessed. "I think
opening
up this Pandora's box can only be a good thing," says Ekstract. "These
people have too much power for too long and its house-cleaning time.
These abuses
grow as they get more power. I feel certain a positive thing will come
out of all
this. I feel very optimistic. I think we'll prevail." Others are less
certain.
The Warhol estate is used to paying lawyers millions out of their
charitable funds
to fend off their critics and it remains to be seen if Ekstract's
pockets are sufficiently
deep to match this brinkmanship. He may also find it hard to get
witnesses. The
sense of terror the Warhol Foundation inspires is palpable. People will
not speak
openly about what they think of it for fear of retribution but mutter
darkly about
tapped telephones and threatening calls. Simon was just 17 when he
first met Warhol
and bought his first picture from him - a print of Mick Jagger - but it
was not
until he was 25 that he bought his first serious painting. It never
crossed Simon's
mind that the painting, which he had bought for $195,000 from one of New
York's
most established and respected art dealers, was anything but a genuine
Warhol. The
painting had been stamp signed at Warhol's studio and the year before it
had been
authenticated by the chairman of the Warhol Foundation, executor of the
Warhol estate
and Warhol's manager for more than 20 years, Fred Hughes. Hughes had
even owned
a similar image himself. However, when Simon presented it to the board
two years
ago, with a view to selling it for $2 million, he was told it was "not
by Andy
Warhol." "I was absolutely amazed," he says. "It had an impeccable
provenance." Like Ekstract he has got written affidavits testifying to
its
genuineness from many of those working in Warhol's studio during the
1960's but
still, the board says "nein." Simon has taken time off from highly
successful
film career to fight this decision and has been approached by Gosford
Park director
Robert Altman about making a film about it. "The board is completely
unregulated
and does whatever it likes," he says Paul Morrisey adds: "I just want to
say that the Board doesn't want
to accept the reality of what was happening and how Warhol worked."
Even, Ivan Karp, the man who first
launched Warhol's career and took a punt on him when he was an unknown
hick doing
shoe adverts, has been told that his Warhols are fakes. Karp, who was
Warhol's dealer
for more than 20 years owned a painting that was turned down that he
remembers Warhol
signing in front of an auditorium of people in a school in Michigan.
Warhol had
been paid to give a lecture, decided to show some children how to make
screenprints and, using
his own silkscreens, he signed the resulting two panel picture. "For the
Board
to be uninterested in the signature is extraordinary," complains Karp.
"In
my 46 years in the business, I've never come across anything like this."
The
Board washes its hands of any need to give a reason for its decisions.
Its policy
document states, airily: "In forming an opinion as to the authenticity
of the
work purporting to be by Andy Warhol is often difficult and will in most
cases depend
upon subjective criteria which are not capable of proof or certainty."
The
reason for this non disclosure, according to the Warhol Foundation and
Authentication
Board lawyer Ron Spencer is "We do not want to provide a roadmap - or
instruction
manual - for forgers." But by not doing so they are strangling public
debate
on how Warhol created his works. "Its very easy to make a decision which
you
are not accountable for” says Joe Simon; "by failing to give the
reason for
their doubts, it is difficult for curators, scholars and owners such as
myself to
respond". This is not a problem for artists such as Van Gogh, who have
as many
forgeries as Warhol. "Its only fair;, says Mr Sjraar Van Heugten, who
authenticates pictures
for the Van Gogh Museum, "We believe the owner has the right to
understand how
we came to our decisions."

More galling still for those trying to get works authenticated by the
Board is that
it will often contradict itself - denying the authenticity of a painting
that it
stated as genuine just months before. Horst Weber von Beeren, an artist
who printed
more than 20,000 works for Warhol over a period of eight years is
baffled as to
why five pictures he was given by Warhol of Liza Minelli were accepted as
genuine
by the Board in 1999 only to receive a letter a few weeks later saying
that the
board had changed its mind "by reason of circumstance." No other
explanation
was given and all Weber von Beeren knows is that instead of making
about £60,000
on each of his pictures, his treasure trove is now worth nothing. Another
who is equally
dismayed by the fickleness of the Board is Liz`Derringer - a glamorous
New York
music publicist. Derringer was known by Warhol as Mrs Rockstar, having
worked for
him as a journalist interviewing rock stars on his infamous, Interview
Magazine
for more than ten years. "I first met Andy when I was 16," she says. "We
used to go up to the factory and Andy took us out to clubs and I was
with a friend
of mine who bullied him into giving us pictures by throwing a tantrum."
Derringer
does not know how he made them, only that Warhol gave her two
screen-prints - one
was of flowers, the other of an electric chair. Although the flower
picture has
been accepted as legitimate by the Board, she has been told the electric
chair picture
is a fake. "I showed them all manner of photos of me and Andy including
ones
he had signed and showed all the articles I had written for him over the
years.
But still they wouldn't change their minds. "I don't know what to do
next.
I could sure use the money - I need to buy a house! I'm a successful PR
person but
you can't make that kind of money unless you are Sophie Rhys-Jones and
married to
a prince." Like many others Weber von Beeren suspects the Board of
playing
a numbers game saying that it doesn't want to approve too many pictures
in one go
for fear of puncturing the value of the works it owns. "We little guys
are
competition for them. It's not in their interest to authenticate what we
own because
it might devalue the works owned by the Warhol Foundation," he says.
Weber
von Beeren also thinks that the decision by the Board to term works that
Warhol
didn't personally supervise as "not a Warhol" is madness, because it was
only a tiny minority that he did, anyway. "The present board members
are, as
Andy would have said "Eggheads." They don't have a clue about Warhol
because
they were so far removed from the action. The fact is that working for
Andy was
like working in a sweatshop. For instance, I remember him saying "Liza
Minelli
- she's saleable let's print a lot of them," but he didn't stand there
checking
every one. We had to do that." Joe Simon agrees: "They are treating him
as if he was an Old Master painter. They seem to be trying to say that
works are
not by Warhol because he may not have actually painted them himself -
but allowed
others to do it. But that is as insane as saying that Damien Hirst did
not make
the shark or the glass or the formaldehyde, or that Tracey Emin's bed is
a fake
because she did not knit the blankets. Warhol was a master delegator -
an ideas
man much of whose later art was made by assistants in studios he never
visited."
Warhol lawyer Ron Spencer said that its job is to determine the "intent"
of the artist. But with Warhol, whose intention was principally to make
money by
having as many people making as many things using his name at any one
time, his
authorship is extremely hard to track. How little he held his own
artistic endeavours
is clear. "Why do people think artists are special?" he once said. "Its
just another job."

The distinguished art historian John Richardson, who was
one of the eulogists at Warhol's funeral told the board recently, "I
feel that
your experts are behaving in an unnecessarily high-handed way - a way
that is of
more benefit to the Warhol Foundation than it is to collectors or
historians, like
myself, who would hope that the Warhol oeuvre would be treated the way
he would
have liked." Even those working for the Foundation itself appear to have
their
doubts. Tom Sokolowski, Director of the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh said
recently: “The Authentication Board’s decision on what to call real or worthless doesn’t seem entirely sound, I think the Board has made some decisions about what his working
process that
could require further discussion." One thing however, is certain: Andy
Warhol
would have loved the row and the even greater fame it will bring him.
"Death
means a lot of money honey," he once said. "Death makes you a star."
ENDS

Warhol, Kostabi,Almaraz, these are the winning names. Seriagraphs, lithos, produced by these artists from the 1970's to 1992 were thick and uncompromising. The Master Printers, back then were doing their best work and therefore should be included in this credit...I don't know why, but this is what my collection of seriagraphs uncovered.

who is almaraz? Why are the warhol board creating such problems?

Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board
I noticed today that the New York Times, the International Herald
Tribune, Fox News among others wrote a piece about the fake
Brillo Boxes. This story has been running in most of the major papers,
but all exclude a few important facts which are
included in the $20 million dollar plus $100 million damages class
action lawsuit
filed this summer in the Manhattan district court. .

What has been omitted from the press articles, which are growing by
the minute, is the fact that both the co-curator for the museum show
(Olle Granath, a curator at the Museem Modern in Sweden and Paul Morrissey publicly stated that the
sculptures were not real and yet this information was ignored by the
Warhol authentication board and foundation. Now dozens of people and
museums are outof pocket. The boxes were submitted
to the board for the first time in 1995, while Lord Palumbo was
director of the Warhol foundation. Lord Palumbo and others close to
the board own several of these boxes which is acknowledged in the
Warhol catalogue raisonne part 2, (page 81) These boxes were estimated
by Christies at $150-$200,000 each, giving the 105 an approx value of
$21,000,000.
The point being that the board and foundation refuse to acknowledge
information by those closest to Warhol and who were actually there,
but rely on information given to them by dealers while those closest
to them seem to profit. This is the crux of the class action lawsuit.
The board refuse to acknowledge the testimony of Paul Morrissey,
Warhol’s manager and filmmaker who recently sold the
Montauk home he shared with Warhol and rented to people such as Mick
Jagger, Jackie Onasiss for approx $30 million dollars) and others
such as Sam Green, Gerard Malanga, John Richardson, Bridget Berlin and
Billy Name who
were close to the artist and have come out publicly against the Warhol
Foundation and Board. As the foundation spend tens of millions of
dollars in legal fees protecting their secretive and clandestine
organization, far more than they have donated to any charity, this
will continue. The Foundation prefer to acknowledge the testimony of
favored dealers who stand to profit. The Warhol market is now a
billion dollar industry.

A source close to Warhol sent this comment: The news media has been
Ignoring the facts for
for too long handling art corruption with kid gloves. The time is now
for the media to take off the gloves and reveal the corruption & lies
which lurk beneath the veneer & vanity of what passes off as "art."
Joe Simon has been steadfast & relentless in his pursuit for
justice and I know he will be even more relentless as time goes on.

Although all of the evidence is in his favor, the Warhol lawyers are
attempting to have the case thrown out, virtually all of Warhol
colleagues have written statements in his defence and against the
Warhol foundation and board. The lawyers do not want any of this
Information to come to light, especially in court. As this is a class
action, this will involve many who bought the brillo boxes with the
approval of the board. as far as a charitable organization, why did the attorney generals office have to take the foundation to court to explain their spending 10 dollars on themselves for every dollar thy give to charity?

There was a terrific documentary made about the Warhol foundation which is available on youtube. Andy Warhol authentication part 1-7. must see tv really, if the attorney generals office would watch it then maybe they would finish the job they started in the 1900’s and bring this little club to heel.

I am trying to loate my old friend Horst Weber Von Beeren - this is personal, not business. Does anyone know how to contact him? Thanks.
cetkin@sbcglobal.net

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