Treasure Detectives on CNBC A Fake Baseball Card and A Fake Tiffany Lamp
Treasure Detectives is a very interesting show that deals with the authenticity of collectibles. In this blog post, I’d like for you to consider the psychology of the collectors, something I hope you can relate to and definitely a good object lesson to be learned from. I deal with the mind set of collector’s all the time and, coincidentally, it turned out that on the same morning as the TV show, I had three paintings to evaluate for authenticity come into the lab… all of them before noon!
Tues. March 12th’s episode dealt with the value of a potentially super valuable baseball card and a Tiffany lamp.
The two owners of the two items were in a completely different place mentally.
- The baseball card owner had inherited the card in 1980 and had, over the years revered it and made up an incredible story and value in his mind. For him, the item was absolutely authentic and its potential value of $3 million was tied tightly to his ego.
- The Tiffany lamp was bought a few years ago by a very experienced antiques collector who states that he has the largest and most valuable collection of Tiffany in the State of Kentucky.
In the case of the baseball card, it turned out that several details sunk that boat and it was declared 100% fake. The owner was devastated, of course, but made worst by the fact that the owner took the news personally. The provenance, the reverence for such a rare item, the story the owner had in his mind all contributed to him not looking at this “investment” in an objective way. By the way, it is my estimate that the authentication processes they went through on the show could have cost the owner about $15,000.00 if he were paying for the work and research.
The Tiffany lamp turned out to be a 1950s reproduction and was fraudulently sold as a Tiffany. In other words, the purpose was to deceive. The owner was disappointed naturally but it was interesting to me that an experienced antiques buyer and one so familiar with Tiffany would buy something BEFORE having it checked out. I’m sure he shrugged off the $5,000.00 purchase price of his bogus lamp and moved on to other hunting grounds. It is my estimate that the authentication process they went through on the show could have cost the owner about $10,000.00 of he were paying for the work and research.
Here are a couple of suggestions that could be learned from this episode of Treasure Detectives:
- Have your item checked out by experts prior to a purchase or caveat emptor and suffer the consequences.
- Provenance or the documented history of the item is as easy to make up as a good story. Fake provenances are more common than good ones. If the documentation is made up of physical papers etc and they all look good… be more wary the more expensive the item is being sold for.
- Consider that all experience dealers and collectors buy fake stuff. Don’t take it personally… but don’t get taken too often! #1 on this list will keep this from happening to you. One of my dealer-clients hasn’t bought a painting in 30 years with a fake signature because I look at each and every purchase for him PRIOR to buying if he has the minimal question.
- Ebay will increase your chances of buying something fake
One of the basic methods for inspecting artwork prior to purchase is with a strong UV blacklight. See this article and video for more info: http://tipsforfineartcollectors.org/blacklight-package/ This is not a slam-dunk-easy-to-read method for seeing previous restorations and other important details. It requires lots of practice on lots of different kinds of items. But its fun!
In the program’s own words: “Treasure Detectives takes you deep inside the world of arts, antiques and collectibles. Curtis Dowling and his team of investigators verify the authenticity of collectibles, artwork and antiquities using innovative technology and street smarts. Is it a fake or is it worth a fortune?”
For a news article featuring Scott M. Haskins’s, Click here: http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/media-room/art-restorerconservator-scott-m-haskins-featured-in-life-section-of-newspaper/
For art conservation, painting restoration and authentication questions call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 or email@example.com
For art appraisal questions call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121 or firstname.lastname@example.org
See short videos by Scott M. Haskins on art conservation related subjects at YouTube channel “Bestartdoc” http://www.youtube.com/user/bestartdoc?feature=mhee
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See short do-it-yourself videos on collection care and emergency preparedness for art collectors, family history items, heirlooms, memorabilia at Youtube Channel “preservationcoach” http://www.youtube.com/user/preservationcoach
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