How to Spot a Fake Picasso –

 How to Spot a Fake Picasso

genuine print

Art authentication is something that I am extremely interest in so much so that I am currently studying art authentication at university. The issue of fakes and forgeries is much more serious than most people realise but because of the way the art market operates information relating to the sale of fakes and forgeries is often swept under the carpet. I recently came across an online auction which included a work which was described as a pencil signed etching by Picasso from the Vollard suite. As well as being signed, this etching also had a label and seal of authenticity from the Musee d’Orsay as well as a seal and stamp from Christie’s. The photos of the work confirmed that the work did have all these things. Problem is, the stamps, labels and seals were fake as was the etching it’s self. Here’s how I came to this conclusion.

1. The fourth picture shows the supposed label of authenticity from the Musee d’Orsay. First of all, the Musee d’Orsay does not provide any sort of written authentication documents for works of art. According to the museum’s website “The public establishment of the Musée d’Orsay does not provide certificates of authenticity for works of art. Any certificate of authenticity purporting to be from the Musée d’Orsay is therefore false, and its use is an offence under articles 441-1, and following articles, of the French penal code.”

 How to Spot a Fake Picasso

fake print

2. The fake Musée d’Orsay label also has the incorrect title for this particular etching. The label lists the title as “ESCULPIENDO UNA CABEZA” when in fact this etching is from the famous Vollard Suite and is titled “Sculpteur, modele et buste sculpte”.

3. The signature is completely wrong (compare fake to genuine print)

 How to Spot a Fake Picasso

fake Christie's stamp

4. The size of the fake is wrong. The plate mark of the genuine print is 26.6 h x 19.4 w cm whereas the size of the plate market of the fake is 11.5 h x 8 w cm.

 How to Spot a Fake Picasso

fake Musee d'Orsay stamp

5. I managed to find another three prints being sold with the exact same stamps, labels and seals but with different reference numbers. The date of the Christie’s stamp is also the same (12 March 1972) for all the prints that I could find.

6. The fake looks wrong when compared to the original

7. Last but not least, the people selling these prints were selling them online for around the 500 euro mark where as genuine print from the edition is worth around 5000 euros at auction with some having sold for up to 10,000 euros. One of the sellers had the audacity to say that they had a certificate from a prestigious valuation firm that valued the fake they were selling at 6000 euros. Why would someone sell a print for 500 euros when they could easily get 5000 euros for it. As the old saying goes, if it is too good to be true is most probably is.

Stamps, seals, stickers,labels etc.  are extremely easy to fake and can give what may seem a watertight authenticity to a work.  I am seeing more and more fakes and forgeries with accompanying fake and forged indicators of authenticity.  The fact that many of these fakes and forgeries are sold at just a fraction of their true value should be the first thing that automatically make one suspicious of the authenticity of the work.  Sane people don’t sell works of art for a 10th of their value online if they are aware of their value and could just as easily get the full value elsewhere.

image 1:
Genuine print
Sculpteur, modele et buste sculpte. (Sculptor, model and sculpted bust.)
17 March 1933
intaglio etching
plate-mark 26.6 h x 19.4 w cm

image 2:
fake print

image 3:
fake Christie’s stamp

image 4:
fake Musee d’Orsay stamp

 How to Spot a Fake Picasso**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.comt How to Spot a Fake Picasso, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

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  • chris guillochon

    I really enjoyed this article; I find the artmarketblog website is a little bit messy to view, especially when it comes up on facebook, which is a shame because sometimes it puts you off reading the articles, such as this one which is excellent

  • Anonymous

    good article, fascinating world, people go to so much trouble to extract money from others, but who is buying picassos online? same people who allow nigerians to place untold sums of money in their accounts?

  • ElizabethBelhadj

    Hi Nick,


  • Antonio

    Hi Nicholas, thank you very much for the article. I was looking something like that on the web because a friend of mine received some of the fake prints and he thinks they are real. When I saw them for the first time, Picasso´s signature created my first doubt. However, the seals and stamps on the back makes you think they are real. Fortunately, my friend didn´t buy those prints, somebody gave them as a gift. I have only one question, the real print doesn´t have any seal, number o stamp? Thanks again

  • Juan guillen

    sera posible conoc er aproximadamente el numero de copias que se realizaron de estra obra, yo tengo una que cumple con trodas las caracxteristicas de la original, pero me quedo la duda. me fue regalada en paris en el año 1990 y es la seriada No. 21. mucho agradeceria su respuesta.

    • Antonio

      Hola Juan

      Tu que tienes una que cumple con las caracteristicas para ser original, ésta tiene sellos en su parte trasera?, como son? la firma de Picasso es como el grabado original que aparece en esta pagina? o no tiene firma.

  • Mehmet Sakar

    Hi I Have picasso lithographs can you help me if they are real .Thank you

  • Sarah

    This is great information for those of us interested in finding real Picasso’s.. I wish there was a record of all the ones ever made so when they are all found they are all found…

    Stock Pots

  • Luis-O

    I have found in my atic 8 etchings like those that you have shown in this article, what do you advice me to do with them? I wouldn`t sent them to the trash..:( .

  • Titus Slewe

    Hello Nicholas,
    I am a painter, and I can see, feel, if a painting or other art work of Picasso is real or fake. A lot of them are. It is only, becouse of the money the people don’t wanne know, see. And that makes me realy feel sick. Becouse Picasso is so good.
    greetings from,

    • Kim

      Hello Titus:

      I have some photographs of a painting, signed Picasso, that I would love you to look at to see if you feel it is real. I feel in my heart it is. My email is, please email me. Please answer here also so that I am assured it is you replying.
      Thank you!

      • Titus

        Hello, I would like to see the pictures.

        • Kim

          Hi Titus: I sent them to you, did you not get them?


  • Pingback: Art, ebay & fakes… | Artisonline's Blog

  • Fishgolfpoolgsk

    I  think I just found a real Picasso  print in my basement have no idea what or where to go with this can u help .

  • Rusty

    i may have found a real one at a garage sale but no idea how to tell the difference if anyone wants a pic i can send them thru emai mine is its probably unlikely that its real but hey wouldn’t hurt to find out 

  • MJ
  • Mik

    Excellent article, here is another selling on ebay now. selling for $1500USD

  • Christian Klein

    Well buyed a Picasso etchin over e-bay in the U.S. i rember ( for most u.s. citicen firts time a suprise)that the USSS control fake in as export art as auction as else print fake they have a special buero for that i give ther when i have a faked.


  • Christian Klein

    seen some musee de or.. at ebay from italy ,denied a buy not wail i had think they are faked not prity and may owner not ident.

  • Christian Klein

    very intressting,that one i buyd have also a chistis stamp but a else , as also a watermark,ther is a certification in spanish,i think that done by picassos ofice woud not say that but the absulut incobatibel P in the signature runs as standart to all else P in his handwriten manuscrip FISH say that ,the paper is cutet with a Geobel like paper cuter very intresting that,ther is also to see that the plate has not went exact on the paper on that one or presud 2 times the II/X in pencil is by will made mirror wrong… to be continured..

  • Christian Klein

    cutet so tha 1 falt give a exat frame to the rest a space for writen so but never faltet ther..

  • Christian Klein

    Graverure Suit Vollard Paris

  • Christian Klein

    ok im not shure yet but save that that is in Spanish or some Prommisory note Format that that documen can went ducument for years that the seldom watermark confirm that,

  • Christian Klein

    1933 ,1000USD

  • Christian Klein

    it is also a promissory paper as well.

  • Christian Klein

    Most europen call that sort Change Paper, come also lie the Lomabard Paper out off Fresh Buisnes culture /the Change(promissonary ducument) is give to the next creditor by date and asign best with stamp on the documet backside ..

  • milky1018

    This knowledge is a must to learn. Just to tell which is fake or not.


  • ErIk Ikomori

    This one, just by the silly looking Picasso signature, yeal it’s a fake. Picasso signature isn’t the harder to copy tough… Still, YES, you can find MIRACLE on ebay, but it is in auction, less so in buy it now. I rarely bid on signed prints, and stay away from the BIG name. I prefer very old engravings because you can know by the type of paper and sign of age if it is real antique or not. The value is less megalomanic too. Art world is a big Capitalist joke, I prefer the humble engravers of 17th century. Very interesting article by the way.

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