Art Picks From eBay, Number 19; Pablo Picasso Drawing on eBay; Original; Provenance

Related Topic: Art Provenance: What It Is and How to Verify It

This is the nineteenth 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. credits the seller, by way of eBay, as the source of all of the following information and images. 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. 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:

PABLO PICASSO ORIGINAL DRAWING w/Provenance comment: The title states that the item up for sale is an original drawing by Pablo Picasso with provenance (provenance is documentation which speaks directly to the authenticity of a particular work of art).

Seller's description: You are bidding on a very important and intriguing drawing by Pablo Picasso. comment: The seller states that this Picasso drawing is very important and intriguing. The seller states neither the name nor qualifications of the individual who judged this drawing to be very important and intriguing.

*** Image removed at the request of the seller ***

Seller's description continued: This is a hand drawn original, not a lithograph or print. The medium is charcoal on paper. The drawing is signed, and dated November 6, 1936 in lower left ,and measures 27.50cm x 35.50cm. comment: The seller provides physical details about the drawing.

*** Image removed at the request of the seller ***

Seller's description continued: The motif is a realist portrait of a female, possibly a study of Dora Maar. comment: The seller states neither the name nor the qualifications of the individual who believes that this is possibly a study of Dora Maar, a woman who had a long love affair with Picasso.

Seller's description continued: The condition is very good, with very little foxing, if any.(one small coner fold). comment: The seller describes the drawing's condition.

Seller's description continued: Documents from all previous owners are included in the sale, including from the original owner, who acquired this drawing from Picasso himself. All provenance and names released only to the high bidder to preserve privacy of families. comment: The seller says he's got provenance dating right back to the artist, but HE WON'T SHOW IT TO YOU UNLESS YOU BUY THE ART. All preserving of privacy aside, THE PROVENANCE MUST BE SEEN, EVALUATED AND VERIFIED BEFORE YOU PLACE A BID. You can't blindly take the seller's word that he has provenance, but just won't let you see it. THE PROVENANCE IS AS IMPORTANT TO SEE AND EVALUATE AS THE DRAWING ITSELF.

Seller's description continued: The artwork comes beautifully framed and matted in museum-quality wooden frame, matted with acid-free archival materials and covered with UV-protective plexiglass. comment: That's nice. It's framed.

Seller's description continued: Like all of the art in my collection, this drawing has been verified by expert for age via Ultra Violet lab testing and pigment intrusion. comment: The seller does not provide the name of the expert who did the verification. Two questions here-- Since when is ultra violet light used to date art? Isn't pigment intrusion an ancient African fertility ritual?

Seller's description continued: I have listed a very fair reserve. All sales finalized with payment via wire transfers or certified check within 3 days of auction's end. comment: Does "all sales finalized" mean that all sales are final? Sure sounds that way. The seller says nothing about you being able to inspect the art or evaluate the provenance or get your money back if something's not right. Furthermore, the seller only accepts a wire transfer, certified check, or money order as payment. ALL OF THESE OPTIONS ARE LIKE SENDING CASH. If, for any reason, you decide to contest the sale, you could have a really really really hard time getting your money back.

Seller's description continued: I'll ship anywhere in the world via FEDEX, privately insured and professionally packaged. Bid privately and with confidence. If you have five positive feedbacks or less, please email with permission to bid. I welcome any questions regarding this auction. Thank you and good luck. comment: Questions? How about these-- Can I see the provenance? Do you offer a moneyback guarantee? What are the names and qualifications of your experts? What is pigment intrusion? How is ultra violet light used to date art? Will you agree to my using an established online escrow service approved of by eBay so that I can safely inspect the art before formally completing the sale?

This sale is a "private" auction. Private auctions hide the identities of competing and winning bidders and inhibit communications of any sort between eBayers. recommends that potential buyers avoid private auctions unless they are experienced collectors, skilled at recognizing the work of the artists they bid on, and/or have some familiarity with the sellers. also recommends that eBay eliminate private auctions.

Sold for $12,100 with 31 bids. Stay tuned for our next "Art Pick from eBay."

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