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Forger Deceives Art Dealer with Celebrity Counterfeit

In our celebrity-crazed culture it's not surprising that people go crazy for memorabilia. For instance, the red leather jacket Michael Jackson wore for his Thriller video sold for over $1.5 million in 2011, and a John Lennon piano sold for over $2 million. But this appetite for celebrity souvenirs had spawned a lucrative market for fakes and forgeries.

Consider the story of some alleged original artwork by the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. In 2014 Peter Harrington, a rare books and prints establishment in London, acquired an "Original Bob Dylan artwork." Supposedly Dylan created the artwork for an album covered but it never got used. But when Peter Harrington employees started researching the items for their catalog, several pieces didn't add up. After extensive interviews, they determined that the highly-prized Dylan artwork was actually a fake. The auction house that originally sold the piece refused to take responsibility for auctioning a fake.

An employee from Peter Harrington's writes:

This cautionary tale shows how far forgers will go to defraud dealers and collectors, and how they can sometimes exploit an auction house's less-than-rigorous approach to research. These [fakes] come in all shapes and sizes; some … are fairly easy to spot; others, painstakingly faked by individuals with an encyclopedic knowledge of both music history and the memorabilia industry, can pose more of a challenge to authentication. Often accompanied by elaborately fabricated origins, it can take both inventive research, specialist industry contacts, and an instinct for authenticity to sniff out a fake.

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