Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
zerohour

Art/Claerhout

Recommended Posts

zerohour

I recently decided to have a look at purchasing some art for myself, I was quite interested in some of the Claerhouts being offered, but decided first to do some homework and found the below interesting article on claerhout paintings, i am now not so sure what to do and a bit confused ?

 

here is the link ARCAblog: Forgery in South Africa: The Story of Frans Claerhout

[h=3]Forgery in South Africa: The Story of Frans Claerhout[/h]

 

[TABLE=class: tr-caption-container]

[TR]

[TD]FransClaerhout.gif[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: tr-caption]A 'fake'[/TD]

[/TR]

[/TABLE]

 

by Toby Orford

Higher prices for art are an inevitable sign of emerging market maturity – and also widespread criminal activity. Although art dealers and auctioneers are discreet about the scope of the problem in South Africa, the sales of art attributed to the artist Frans Claerhout on an internet auction site is blatant evidence that art forgery is an ongoing problem that cannot be ignored or, it seems, stopped.

 

 

A Belgian Catholic missionary priest, Frans Claerhout, lived most of his life in the Orange Free State. From 1957 onwards – heavily influenced by Flemish expressionism - Claerhout painted a large number of landscapes and figures. Other media included drawings in charcoal, pen-and-ink and crayon.

 

 

In 2002 the artist belatedly acknowledged that a close family friend of 45 years had started independently to copy his work, without his knowledge or involvement, and that “hundreds” of forgeries had been sold as originals in well-known Bloemfontein art gallery.

 

 

Claerhout died in 2006. Several years later a suspiciously large number of works are being sold on South African internet auction – and private - websites. Anonymous sellers are advertising works at prices in the region of ZAR 3,000 (approx USD 375) to ZAR 7,000 (approx USD 875). As Artinsure (www.artinsure.co.za) has noted, in a clumsy attempt to manufacture credible provenance, paintings are accompanied by a “Certificate of Authenticity” and, on the back, a reproduction of a supposedly original message from the artist. Unfortunately, the pro forma message does not refer to the artwork to which it is attached - and is also false.

 

 

The quality of the work is inexplicably amateurish and inferior, and obviously inconsistent with the artist’s style, technique and imagery. Moreover, buyers have reported that paintings have arrived with fresh, wet – even smudged – paint, on board that only recently became available in South Africa.

 

 

Nevertheless, the tactic of selling fakes very cheaply on the internet has been quite successful. It has been reported that more than 30 such forgeries have been identified. The low prices are both a temptation and a warning. It is usually the less wealthy and less experienced purchaser that is deceived. Tempted by greed to “beat the market”, even those who suspect that they have been deceived probably don’t care. Or, for such a low outlay, they are prepared to take the risk – or to turn a blind eye to what is going on.

Cecile Loedolff, an art curator, said in 2002 that the Absa Bank Collection had decided a long time ago to stop buying Claerhout paintings:

 

 

" I don't touch a Claerhout ….. I find it very strange that nobody became suspicious earlier. In the last few years, Claerhouts have been issued at the speed of white light."

 

 

People are naturally concerned about the authenticity of anything attributed to Claerhout and this will always be bad news for the value of his art. This may explain why as recently as Monday 26 September 2011 several Claerhout paintings failed to sell at a major fine art auction in Cape Town.

 

 

The South African Police are investigating. Previous police investigations have failed and a lack of training, experience and resources means that criminal prosecutions are unlikely. Unfortunately www.bidorbuy.co.za/ is not taking any action, because (it says) it has yet to be presented with any “hard, factual evidence or proof” and has not been contacted by the authorities.

 

 

And so, nearly ten years later, the uncertainty, which some lamely predicted would “sort itself out”, continues. The general reluctance to confront and stop such obviously fraudulent activity is surprising.

 

 

Privately funded litigation might be the only way to break this vicious circle. Robert Badenhorst is an artist and gallery owner who agrees that Claerhout values have dropped. He is currently considering whether to overcome inertia and to organise a private investigation in order to collect the evidence that is necessary to prosecute the sellers. Civil litigation against them is also a possibility. Although the buyers who have been cheated want to recover their losses, the main objective of any legal action would be to “name and shame” – and stop the forgeries. This is necessary in order to protect Claerhout’s legacy. But it is also necessary to protect the reputation of South African art in general.

 

 

© Toby Orford 2011

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kyle2

If I were you I would aproach buying donkeys with extreme caution, because at the end of the day, thats what you may just end up with, a donkey, and you will feel like a right jackass. :wink:

Too much controversy with this artist, I'd find something else to buy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MiemsJewels

El Campenero.........Exactly........the fake's........SOUTH AFRICAN JUNK!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
qball

Just to add to this - I spoke to the "investigating officer" at SAPS Heritage Crimes Division whose details were forwarded to me, regarding a press release and according to the IO there is currently no investigation nor any evidence presented to them to investigate... at the moment this is purely speculation, and we unfortunately cannot work on this. Without any hard facts, evidence or proof we cannot simply "act", we need conclusive proof. We have repeatedly asked for proof and evidence and nothing has ever been presented to us - lots of talk of private investigators, cases being opened, civil action but nothing has ever been forwarded to us to act on...

 

Like with anything else we advise buyers to proceed with caution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mellowred
People are naturally concerned about the authenticity of anything attributed to Claerhout and this will always be bad news for the value of his art.

 

How sad for both Father Claerhout and the owner's of his genuine works.

 

Sorry Cuan, I know this subject has been done to death. But it is virtually impossible for so many "authentic" paintings to be floating about.

 

Because this is such a controversial issue, is it not possible to make it compulsory to provide BoB with a genuine certificate of authenticity before listing these paintings.

 

In my opinion it is detrimental to BoB's reputation to allow these "authentic" paintings to appear on the site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
qball

Unfortunately not, we cannot authenticate or request every single painting to have a certificate before being listed - it is logistically not possible nor is it our responsibility to do so, the seller must ensure they have authentic works of art before listing. Certificates have been provided to us by several galleries confirming authenticity, some buyers have had works "authenticated" but no one wants to put this in writing (whether they are authentic or not), some have had verbal confirmation of authentication. Whether impossible or not, we don't work on speculation. There is nothing clear cut about this and until someone can substantiate the claims and provide hard evidence to us, we can't "simply act" even if there are questions being asked or claims being made. If it is found that a seller has been misrepresenting the items and we have proof of this we will gladly act.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mellowred

Thanks Cuan, point taken.

 

As you said in the earlier post ...

 

Like with anything else we advise buyers to proceed with caution.

 

... anyone buying one of these paintings should, by now, be aware of the controversy. Perhaps the buyers are more guilty of this continuing fraud than the sellers (?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
qball

Sellers have already gone to great lengths to get certificates of authenticity from galleries locally for dozens of paintings, sketches, drawings etc. So it's difficult to assume that these are not authentic in light of this as there is no evidence to the contrary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
zerohour

I understand it must be very difficult for BOB to know whether the art is authentic or not especially as you say you have obtained certificates of authenticity from galleries , still does not give me the confidence to purchase any after that article, and also the amount sold and constantly on sale seems incredible.

Edited by zerohour

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
qball

All we can say is if you are unsure, then do not proceed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
zerohour

As a post script to BOB’s answer re sellers bringing in certificates of authenticity to prove articles are genuine re Claerhout art….what happened as far as the buyitsigned debacle, I seem to remember he was asked to bring in certificates of authenticity to BOB to prove his items were genuine signed sports memorabilia, and BOB confirmed he did this and you were satisfied.

I find it strange that since all this was brought to light that this seller has now completely disappeared of the radar screen and it’s like he doesn’t exist and I see the negative ratings are coming in and even threats of police action against him ?

I am not picking, I was always taught you do the right thing in life and I despise scam artists and con men.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
qball

el campero, we agree wholeheartedly. We have not been able to get hold of Robert for quite some time. He did contact us a while ago saying he wants to come in and chat to us, but that's the last we have heard from him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
zerohour

Appriciate your reply....somehow i dont think you will see him again....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MsPlod

Sadly, I think that there are indeed some original (as in COMPLETELY the artist's own work) Claerhouts in circulation, even some of those are on BoB, however the number of "wet paint" donkies and pictures which have the exact same donkey in different settings / surroundings just mean that any Claerhout donkey original is going to be treated with the greatest suspicion!

 

Buyer beware - as with so many things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MiemsJewels

Everywhere I go I see donkeys, donkeys donkeys I HATE those darn donkeys starring at me from every corner!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×