Eastbourne auctions, from England, has a "Two day fine art sale" on 10 and 11 May 2018. It includes 360 paintings and prints.
What is amazing is the number of poorly described works, with unrecognised signatures, which, if genuine, would make this one of the best modern art sales of the year. How unlucky that both the owner(s) of the works, and the "Auctioneers & Valuers of Fine Art, Antiques & Collectables" (as they describe themselves) had so much trouble deciphering the signatures and attributing the paintings.
Unless of course they knowingly are selling fakes and are careful not to attribute the fakes to actual artists, hoping that the poor description and low estimate will dupe people into thinking they have uncovered some sleepers, some hidden gems, which the stupic auctioneer and seller didnt recognise. Could it be? No, of course not, knowingly selling fakes with such malicious intent would be criminal, so it must be that the auctioneers are simply extremely incompetent.
Some examples (the list, sadly, is not exhaustive).
Lot 1435 is "bearing a signature Goldbeg", estimated £100 to £200. Michael Goldberg, American abstract expressionist, comparable real works sell for $50,000.
Lot 1467 is "bearing a signature Kurt Schwithing", estimated at £150 to £250. Obviously signed "Kurt Schwitters". His abstract works fetch £100,000 and more.
Lot 1657 is "bearing a signature A L Hote", estimated at £50 to £80. You really have to make an effort not to see A Lhote (André Lhote) in this signature. No idea what this one would fetch if it was real, I haven't really found comparable works during my short search, but other works fetch 10s of thousands and more.
Lot 1648 is "bearing a signature A Han '59", estimated at £50 to £80. Hmm, could this be Jean-Michel Atlan (French, 1913-1960)? Value £20,000 to £30,000 (for a real one, that is).
Lot 1632 is "bearing a signature Marie", estimated at £80 to £120. It is made to look like a painting by Picasso from 1937 of his muse Marie-Thérèse Walter. While I can imagine an auctioneer not knowing Atlan or at a stretch Lhote, I have a hard time seeing a "valuer of fine art" not knowing this style or being unable to make the link. Another portrait of Walter from 1937 was the leading painting in a Sotheby's sale in February of this year, with an estimate "upon request" and a sale price of just shy of £50,000,000...
Lot 1627 is "bearing an indistinct signature Misse" and estimated at £200 to £300. The "indistinct signature" is rather clearly "H. Matisse"... A standing nude by Matisse starts at £500,000 or thereabouts.
Lot 1617 is "bearing a signature De Komina", estimated £80 to £120. It is supposedly by Willem de Kooning, and worth some 100K for a real one.
Lot 1595 is "bearing a monogram Muntn" and estimated at £200 to £300. The signature is of Gabriele Münter, and if she really had pâinted something like this, it should be worth £100,000 or more.
Carelle" (Corneille) "Bouher" (François Boucher, demonstrating that a major old master is more obviously a fake at first sight), "Feining" (Feininger), "Stilan" (Steinlen), "Jan...sky?" (Von Jawlensky), "a signature" (Chashnik),...
For some reason, they didn't bother to "misread" the signature on their "Munch", "Nolde", "Magritte" or "Jorn".
Misreading or not recognising an artist or signature happens at many auctions, and especially with older works the addition of aprocryphal signatures afterwards is commonplace. But I have never seen such a display of misreading signatures from truly major modern artists in one auction; if these were real, you would get a very, very nice start towards a museum of modern art for a few thousands pounds in total.
An auction house which claims to have fine art expertise but is this incompetent should probably just close its doors, as both buyers and sellers would be best advised to stay away from it at all costs.
It's also weird that some works which have been sold at the previous auction, are now again for sale. Like a "Louis Wain" (right...) sold for £220 in March, and now again for sale with the same description for £150 to £250.
Looking at the results from that previous comparable sale, I note that luckily most items fail to sell (well, "sell" for £40 or so, no idea if any real sale happened then); but some works seem to have fooled a buyer anyway. A "monogram CK" (which aims to be a work of Cal Kylberg, but fails) sold for £5400, which is £5350 too much. They also sold 2 "Kurt Schwitters" (hey, they knew the name then) at £380 each.
In January they sold quite a few things using this tactic, including another André Lhote (then read as "Alha O?", whatever) for £1200. Oh, and another one, this time signed "A Chote", for £2,200. They must be laughing their pants of cataloguing these things. Mind you, you could just as easily have fooled your self into buying an "E B-J" drawing (no, they had no idea who that could be, never heard of Edward Burne-Jones, sorry!) for £3200, or a fake Alechinsky for £680 (which is now again for sale for £100 to £200, or are the fakers simply making multiple copies of the same work?).
Looking through my older blog posts, I notice that I have highlighted some Eastbourne works in the past, sometimes with reservations, sometimes just as a bargain. In retrospect, this was stupid, as those sales all had more or less the same problems as this current one does (athough this one seems to be the most blatant and featuring the biggest names). My advice from now on is never deal with Eastbourne auctions in any way.