What's It Worth? The $2 Million Painting That Wasn’t

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A North Carolina antique estate dealer recently sent us a box of Tiffany silver and a painting by a famous artist who was local to the Raleigh-Durham area. After our first successful transaction, he began to send us more paintings from the same estate, which we paid between $1,000 and $10,000 for apiece. He said that the best were still to come; each subsequent painting was worth more than the one before. Finally he sent us what was supposed to be the best piece in the collection, an Edward Hopper, which, if authentic, could be worth several million dollars. In spite of the authenticity and quality of the previous paintings, we were skeptical; and the dealer was a little put out that we did not write him a check for a million dollars without investigation. We conferred with our art expert and gallerist who is also a former Sothbys.com associate and he flatly pronounced the painting as a fake. Hope springs eternal though, and our North Carolina client insisted we send it out for authentication. After a long and expensive experience, the powers that be in New York City confirmed that it was a fake. As you can see in the picture, it is hauntingly similar to Edward Hopper’s early works, but it doesn’t display the singular vision that he exhibits. It was obvious to us that it was done by a lesser hand. Value, if genuine, $2-$5 million. Value as an attribution, $50,000 to $100,000. Value as a total fake (or decorative work), $100 to $500. It may have to be sold with the signature removed for legal purposes. If you have expensive, quality, important works for sale or if you. have works of art in your family attributed to famous people, bring it in or let our gallerist come see you. You have seen us in Forbes Magazine, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Three former Sothebys.com associates and two art historians on staff. Call or email us if you want to deal with Tampa Bay’s leading auctioneer. We have sold the contents of museums and collections for USF. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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