The Certificate of Authenticity: the Art Passport!

    Not having it is among the worst nightmares for a collector.

    To compose your own art collection, it is of great importance to have a comprehensive documentation kit that always accompanies the works, and lead all the Certificate of Authenticity.

    Among the most important documents, the certificate of authenticity is the first to be delivered together with the artwork and shows the paternity of the creation and in actually helps maintaining its economic value over time

    The Authentication is the real passport of the artwork. It must contain a detailed description of the work: an image, the name of the artist, the title, the year of creation, technical specifications (materials used and dimensions), number of copies (in case of photographic or sculptural work), origin, signature and/or stamp of the entity issuing the declaration.

    Its importance is also defined by the art. 64 of the “Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape” (Legislative Decree no. 42 of January 22, 2004), which specifies that the authenticity document, issued on plain paper or on the back of a photograph of the work, must be delivered by the professional seller to the collector at the time of purchase.

    For the works of a living artist, it is easier to obtain a certificate of authenticity, which can be issued by both the gallery owner or the artist himself.

    A different and more complex certification process must be followed when dealing with works of non-living artists, taking into account the binding rules of the aforementioned “Code”, which dictates restrictive rules for transfers of ownership and ensuring its legal origin, the certification follows different procedures

    On the other hand, talking about the living artists, there is no legislation that specifically determines which subjects are authorised to issue the certificate of authenticity.

    The same certificate becomes more reliable the more authoritative is the scholar certifying the work, or if issued by heirs or foundations.

    The procedure for issuing the certification, in most cases, stipulates that the work to be authenticated is evaluated by those who protect the rights of the late artist or the scientific committee of the foundation or archive. This procedure, free or paid, encompasses a photographic evaluation or, if requested, a direct comparison with other works created by the same artist and in the same historical-artistic period, followed by a calligraphic study.

    When the work receives the Archive Authentication, with the inclusion of the work by the artist’s archive within the catalogue raisonné, the collector may have not only the document that certifies the authenticity of the work (to be kept separately and in a different place) with the related archive number, but further evidence of its artistic value, with consequent recognition of its economic value on the art market.

    What are the risks of not having the certificate of authenticity of a work of art?

    • No loan requests because the curators will be reluctant to include that work during an important exhibition, resulting in a consequent loss of value of the work itself.
    • Devaluation of the artistic and economic value of the work with a consequent negative effect on the enrichment of the “history” of the work itself, and on the maintenance or increase of its commercial value.
    • Difficulty of subsequent sale because another more careful collector, a gallery or an auction house will hardly accept to buy or sell a work without authenticity: credibility is everything in the art market.

    Beware of those who “offer you a deal” and always check that the work you are about to buy is accompanied by the certificate of authenticity or rely on recognised experts to evaluate the work.

    Scams and frauds are around the corner, but with the right amount of attention and information you will know how to avoid them.

    The more information we have about our works of art, the greater their VALUE.

    Are you sure you have all the needed documentation for your collection?


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