How to Identify a Fake or Forged Limited Edition Print
I was contacted by someone the other day who wanted to know whether a Miro print that he had purchased was a genuine signed limited edition print or not, it wasn’t. The details I received are below followed by the steps I took to determine that the print is in fact not what it claims to be.
Recently, I bought a Miro Lithograph supposedly signed by the artist in pencil
on the bottom right hand corner. The print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from Sartenejas Art Gallery. The title of the work is:’HOMMAGE TO DOROTHEA TANNING’
On the versus of the print the following is written in English in pencil:
JOAN MIRO LITHOGRAPH
‘HOMMAGE TO DOROTHEA TANNING’
PRINTED BY PIERRE VELICE, FOR XXe SIECLE
One can see that the above information was written at the back of the print in the top on pencil, then erased, then written in the bottom of the back of the print. When I googled the print, I found another art gallery, selling the print for double the price than I played. (still cheap thought) The Miro signature has some differences and the writing on the back says the same as mine, but in French and the handwriting completely different. It says: Joan Miro, poeme
pour Dorothea Tanning. Lithographie par Pierre Chave. Vence 1977.
How can I know if mine is real? The certificate claims it is. What are the chances that mine isreal?? It’s a pretty well known print I guess, are there any guidelines? Did Miro’s signature varied a lot from print to print? Thank you so much for your help!
How I came to the conclusion that the print was not a signed limited edition print by Miro:
1. The first step in determining authenticity with prints is to find who published the print, research the company/gallery and contact the company/gallery to confirm the existence of the company/gallery and their involvement with the publishing of the print. In the case that I outlined above I could not find any information regarding a Sartenejas Art Gallery which immediately made me suspicious.
2. XXe SIECLE ‘HOMMAGE TO DOROTHEA TANNING’ was in fact a book that contained a lithograph by Miro as a tribute to Dorothea Tanning and would not have been signed or numbered. It is important to note that most fake signed limited edition prints are created from images printed in books or magazines.
3. An original signed limited edition print would not have had information written on the back then erased then re-written in a different position
4. I could not find any information on a Pierre Velice who apparently printed the limited edition
5. The details of the print being sold by the other gallery with the details in French seems to be legitimate which suggests that the details on the print that the person bought is not what it says it is.
6. If someone is selling a print that they know the details and value of they are not going to sell it really cheaply just for the sake of it. People are not stupid so don’t be fooled by what may seem like a bargain.
Apart from the methods of determining a fake hand signed limited edition that I listed above it is also useful to look at the print under a magnifying glass or microscope to see whether the image is made up of pixels which would suggest that it is merely a photographic print with little to no value. Don’t be fooled by prints that are listed as Heliograuvures which although sounds rather fancy is in fact nothing more than an early form of photocopying and are commonly used as the basis for fake limited edition prints and thus should be avoided. Some of the most faked and forged artists are Miro, Picasso, Chagall and Dali as their work is very popular and highly sought after.
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.