Online auction sites such as eBay boosting fake art sales, warn Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould

Online auction sites such as eBay boosting fake art sales, warn Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould

Francesca MarshallAugust 12, 2018

Online auction sites such as eBay are boosting fake art sales, according to Fiona Bruce and dealer Philip Mould.

As the much loved art show Fake or Fortune returns to the BBC this evening the show’s hosts have revealed that the internet is increasingly allowing people to trade fake art.

Ahead of the seventh series, Ms Bruce said it was increasingly the case that forged artworks from China were being sold online, but that it was impossible to tell the difference between a fake and the real thing when you’re virtual shopping.

“The internet has certainly changed things,” she said. “Legitimately you can bid in an auction through the internet. But the commercial sales of art of sites such as eBay has made the selling of fake art greater.

“It can be very difficult to work out who sold or bought the art because you can hide your tracks on the internet. There are places in China that just churn out the art that looks like that of very famous artists but they’ve never been anywhere near the real artists.

“You can buy an artwork online thinking it’s one thing, when you have no idea that it’s actually coming from China because you’re buying it online.”

Ms Bruce and Mr Mould with the painting under the spotlight in the first episode of the new series of Fake of Fortune, which starts on Sunday 12 August  Credit: Rolf Marriott

Ms Bruce said she had often seen examples of Lowry’s work being advertised online, but sellers would be very careful in the naming of their works, referring to a piece as ‘Lowry’ rather than ‘By Lowry’ to avoid being called a forger.

She added: “Someone though for instance we had buy a genuine work off eBay, so it’s becoming very difficult to know what is real and what is fake.

“The world has changed and now it’s so much more sophisticated on how we can tell if something is real and fake, but also the techniques used to try and mislead us.”

The five-part series will air at 9pm on BBC one. Since launching in 2011, the hit show has grown to become the most popular art show on TV and it regularly draws in an audience of five million viewers.

Art dealer Mr Mould said that changing trends had become a growing concern for legitimate businesses, and that new techniques were constantly being designed to trick dealers into thinking a fake could be the real thing.

“I think I have seen a rise in the quantity of fake art around,” he said. “With all the technical brilliance it’s almost like an arms race with the fakers to see who can get the most sophisticated the first, and that is worrying.

“We have unquestionably seen a rise in fake art moving hands through the internet. As a pretty accurate statistic about 70 per cent of the art that you see online that is being sold, not necessarily by reputable dealers but by individuals, are misrepresented and it’s extremely worrying.”

Painting Glass Jug with Plates and Pears, attributed to William Nicholson, is examined in the first episode of the seventh series of Fake or Fortune  Credit: Prudence Cumings

Mr Mould advised that if you’re planning on spending less than £50 online then it’s not too much of a concern, but warned against potential buyers purchasing art for large sums of money, especially when the origin is not known.

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