Advancements in technology—specifically improvements in photomechanical and reproduction techniques—and the rise of e-commerce have led to a drastic increase in the number of forged prints in the art market. According to the New York Times, experts say that most of the fakes circulating online are attributed to American Pop art giants Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, but there is also an abundance of fake works being passed off as Klees, Picassos, and Matisses.
Many of the sellers of the counterfeits have no connection with the artist and have fabricated certificates of authenticity. The Lichtenstein estate said that it has never issued certificates of authenticity for the artist’s prints and that it has reached out to the FBI for help with combating the surge in fakes. There are also scores of prints being sold with bogus signatures. While many fakes only dupe novice buyers, some are so well made that dealer Susan Sheehan said it sometimes takes three or four days before she determines whether a work is authentic.
Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and other online marketplaces have attempted to introduce protocols to prevent the sale of unauthorized copies of works, but they are only effective if people raise suspicions about their authenticity. “A real good reproduction can fool a lot of experts,” Manhattan dealer John Szoke told the Times. To detect a fake one must look at the “color of the paper, the quality of the printing, the condition of the print, all of which you compare with the original,” he said. “And then you need years and years of experience.”