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  • Art Picks From eBay, Number 11; Marc Chagall: eBay Art Buying Tips

    This is the eleventh in our instructional series of articles that focuses on how to dissect and analyze the ways that works of art are sometimes described for sale on the internet auction site, eBay. eBay does not actively police their auction offerings, but rather depends on emails from dealers, collectors, experts, buyers, and potential buyers to notify them of problems relating to particular works of art. Any seller can describe any work of art in any manner that he or she chooses, and as long as no one complains, that art sells to the highest bidder. As a result, eBay and similar online auction sites are among the more dangerous places for uninformed or inexperienced collectors to buy original art.

    This installment's auction item is described below. ArtBusiness.com credits the seller, by way of eBay, as the source of all of the following information and images. ArtBusiness.com comments and questions appear in red italics throughout the eBay seller's description. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are as they appeared in the original for sale listing. ArtBusiness.com at no time implies, makes, or intends to make any claims or express any opinions regarding the authenticity of any works of art that appear in this series.

    Seller's headline:

    Marc Chagall (Russian/French Painter and Stained Glass Artist, 1887-1985)

    ArtBusiness.com comment: The title states the name of the artist, Marc Chagall, but does not state the nature of the art that is up for auction.

    Seller's description: "Marc Chagall: Russian-born French painter. Born to a humble Jewish family in the ghetto of a large town in White Russia.... He was appointed provincial Commissar for Fine Art in 1917 and became involved in ambitious projects for a local academy, but he left after two and a half years in order to escape the revolutionary dictates of Malevich. After a stay in Moscow, where he worked in the Jewish theatre, then in Berlin, where he studied the technique of engraving, he returned to Paris in 1923.... Commissions poured in: for the Assy baptistery in 1957, the cathedrals of Metz (1960) and Rheims (1974), the Hebrew University Medical Centre synagogue in Jerusalem (1960), the Paris Opéra (1963). The Musée Chagall in Nice dedicated to the 'Biblical Message' set the seal on his fame in July 1973. A painter-poet celebrated by Apollinaire and Cendrars, Chagall brought back the forgotten dimension of metaphor into French formalism."

    ArtBusiness.com comment: The seller opens with a lengthy paragraph about the life and art of Marc Chagall. This information may be for people who happen to stumble onto this listing, like the way the art looks, and are interested in bidding, but have no idea who Marc Chagall is.

    Photo

    Seller's description continued: Original colored pencil or crayon drawing of two figures. Image size is 11 1/2" x 17".

    ArtBusiness.com comment: The seller states the medium and size of the art.

    Photo

    Photo

    Seller's description continued: Framed size is 33" x 39". This item comes beautifully framed as shown in a large silver wood frame with silver fillet.

    ArtBusiness.com comment: Unless a frame is made by a famous frame maker or by the artist himself, the type and size of a work of art's frame have little bearing on that art's dollar value.

    Photo

    Seller's description continued: The pictures do not do justice for this incredible Chagall!! Good Luck bidding..

    ArtBusiness.com comment: The seller does not state which Chagall expert has judged this work of art to be "incredible." However, the word "incredible" can have a variety of meanings depending on the context in which it is used.

    Seller's description continued: This item comes from a large collection which has been accumulated over the last 30 years. Many items were purchase from various estate sales and other venues.

    ArtBusiness.com comment: The size of a collection and the length of time over which it was accumulated have no bearing on the dollar values of individual pieces within that collection. Information that may influence a work of art's dollar value might be the name of the collector, the place where the art was originally purchased, or the art's exhibition history. The seller provides no such information.

    Seller's description continued: Many items do not have a provenance, but if they do it will be stated in the description.

    ArtBusiness.com comment: In other words, this work of art has no provenance.

    Seller's description continued: We are starting this item with a very low reserve. If an item has a coa or other forms of paper work it will be stated in the description, otherwise the item is be sold as stated in the description.

    ArtBusiness.com comment: In other words, this work of art has no certificate of authenticity (coa). One might wonder how it can be described as an "incredible Chagall" with neither provenance nor certificate of authenticity.

    Seller's description continued: If you are an underbidder and are still interested in this item, please email at the end of auction stating your continued interest. In the event the high bidder does not complete the sale, you may still be able to purchase the item.

    ArtBusiness.com comment: The seller really wants to sell this art.

    Seller's description continued: We now accept the following payments: PayPal, Money Orders, Certified and Personal Checks, or Wire Tranfers. Checks may take 10 business days to clear. Payments should be received within 7 business days! Sales are Final

    ArtBusiness.com comment: The above conditions are pretty much standard fare except for that last sentence. Read it carefully! It reads: SALES ARE FINAL. If, for whatever reason, you buy the art and you want to return it, YOU CANNOT RETURN IT. Even if it doesn't look as "incredible" in person as the seller says it is, or it doesn't look as "incredible" as it does in the little tiny digital images in the listing, YOU CANNOT RETURN IT. NEVER buy anything that is offered for sale on eBay or on any other online venue that comes with no return priveleges. Capisce?

    Seller's description continued: Winning bidder pays shipping, handling and insurance. Please feel free to eMail questions. I accept the following forms of payment: PayPal, Money Order, Personal Check

    ArtBusiness.com comment: Sold for $8,100 with 42 bids. Stay tuned for our next "Art Pick from eBay."

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