FAKES SELL AGAIN AND AGAIN — AND AGAIN
AT NY AUCTION HOUSE AND ON EBAY
A gallery and auction house owner, and eBay seller trading under the
tag sambuca914, defrauded dozens of people in sales of bogus artworks,
according to a civil complaint filed by the New York Attorney General's Office.
The allegation charges that Jerry Schuster and his wife, Jill, who operate
the Antique & Design Center in New Windsor, New York, and antique-connection.com,
sold art for $75,000 by claiming it was by artists such as American Ash
Can painter George Luks, California
Impressionist Guy Rose, and Austrian
Kokoschka, among others. The paintings sold for prices
ranging from $770 to $10,000.
A genuine Kokoschka? Hardly.
This painting is by Doris Kurtz
of Queens, New York
"The types of consumer and business scams that we used to see off
line have now moved on line," said New York Attorney General Eliot
Spitzer in a statement. "So our best advice to consumers in this new
Internet age is probably the oldest: let the buyer beware, and if a deal
sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
According to a court filing submitted by Assistant Attorney General
Kenneth M. Dreifach, the Schusters sold one painting — supposedly by
Southwest artist Joseph Sharp, whose images of Indians lit by campfire
sell for $70,000 or more — three times. Titled Indian Encampment,
it sold first to a collector who returned the work. The second sale went
to a man from St. Louis for $3,289.55. He, too returned it, and the
Schusters then sold it for $1,200 to an unknown bidder.
New York appraiser and dealer Robert Simon, who filed a statement that the
work was not by Sharp, said, "The painting was, in quality,
impoverished. If you've seen any works by Sharp, it's not believable. But
it had a signature of JH Sharp, which is how he signed some of his
A still life purportedly by Kokoschka turned out to be a student work.
Assistant Attorney General Dreifach brought the alleged Kokoschka to Jane
Kallir, co-director of the Galerie St. Etienne, in New York City.
"Generally speaking, there are two ways to tell that something is
fake," says Kallir. "One way is subjective, where you say, 'He
just didn't paint like this,' which can be difficult to describe to
someone not familiar with an artist's work. Then there's the objective
way. The back of this painting was sealed and I convinced Mr. Dreifach to
open it. It was on American canvas board. So it was certain that it was
not of the type that Kokoschka would have used. In fact, there was a label
on the back that read, 'Doris Kurtz,' who it turns out lived in Queens.
She had done this in some kind of art class."
Still, the painting had sold for $6,101.00 on eBay.
A source close to the investigation noted that the Schusters refunded
money when buyers complained. Yet they continued to offer the works of art
time and again, even when aware that the works were inauthentic, without
advising buyers that the authenticity of the works were in question. Some
works had forged signatures, according to Dreifach's complaint, and in
some cases the Schusters fabricated bogus provenance to make the artworks
seem more legitimate.
Martha Fleischman, president of the Kennedy Galleries in New York, also
cooperated with the Attorney General's office and debunked a purported
Charles Burchfield watercolor. "A dishonest person can send things
out onto the Internet if the values are low enough to stay under the
radar. These paintings were not half a million dollar paintings that would
draw a lot of attention. They were selling for $2,000, $5,000, $10,000.
What's strange is that the people who bought them were hunting for
bargains — they were thinking that they know more than anyone else, and
more than the millions of people scouring Ebay."
On becoming aware of the allegations, eBay suspended the sambuca914
These books are available online through Amazon for worldwide delivery:
Introduction to Object ID: Guidelines for Making Records That Describe Art, Antiques, and Antiquities
by Robin Thornes
Old Masters Repainted: A Detailed Investigation into the Authenticity of Paintings Attributed to Wu Zhen (1280-1354)
by Joan Stanley-Baker
The Art Forger's Handbook
by Eric Hebborn
The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin's Russia
by David King
by Sandor Radnoti
Detecting Forgery: Forensic Investigation of Documents
by Joe Nickell
Appraisal By Mail
More Amazon books:
Kokoschka (Great Modern Master Series)
by Oskar Kokoschka
Oskar Kokoschka Memorial Exhibition
by Johann Winkler
by Klaus Albrecht Schroder