Warhol Authentication Board To Close

Controversial board dissolved foundation now to Concentrate on core business

It was announced yesterday that the controversial Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board will be dissolved in 2012. After over 7m dollars in lawsuits the Foundation has decided to throw in the towel and review its core function.  The president of the foundation, Joel Wachs explained, The Warhol foundation will continue its work in protecting and promoting the artist’s complete catalogue raisonné.

For many years a controversy has been brewing in the art world over a 1964 series of ten self portraits of the artist, Andy Warhol. The portraits are not self-portraits anymore, they’re just portraits not by Warhol, despite being signed by him, so declared the Warhol foundation, which has led to long drawn out court cases.

So lets clarify the situation: Warhol’s Red Self Portraits were de-attributed by The Warhol Foundation, the New York-based body that authenticates Warhol’s estate and beyond. Clearly there are a lot of Warhol forgeries floating around in the art world, but this series not only appeared on the cover of a well distributed monograph on the artist but also has a number of serious provenances backed up by conemporaries of Warhol.

One picture in the series, now owned by the London collector Anthony d’Offay, is signed and dated by Warhol, and dedicated in his own handwriting to his longtime business partner, the Zurich-based art dealer Bruno Bischofberger (“To Bruno B Andy Warhol 1969”). This picture was turned down by the Tate for an exhibition currently on tour around the UK. Since the Renaissance, a signature is the way artists such as Mantegna and Titian acknowledge the authenticity of their work.

 As if this were not enough, the Bischofberger self-portrait appeared in Rainer Crone’s 1970 catalogue raisonne of Warhol’s work and is reproduced in color on the jacket. Crone is a highly respected independent scholar who worked closely with Warhol over a two-year period to compile this catalogue raisonne . Anthony d’Offay, who was Warhol’s dealer in London, writes in his statement about the “Bruno B Self-Portrait”:

“The foundation was’nt doing themselves any favours by creating controversy and much has been written in the press about this, quite frankly this is an astounding Warhol Foundation error of judgement”.

The board continued their controversial behavior with the decision in  2010 to downgrade more than 100 wooden Brillo boxes, which the late Pontus Hulten (the founding director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art) claimed had been made with Warhol’s express authorisation. This decision was also heavily criticised. The board decided to label the works as “copies” despite having previously stamped some works in the series as authentic “Stockholm Type” boxes. Some were sold through major auction houses and were in known private and public collections.

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