Certificate of Authenticity
Example of a certificate of authenticity and some extra information about the artist and painting issued by Gallery Sorelle Sciarone at the sale of every painting sold at the gallery.
What is a certificate of authenticity?
A certificate of authenticity is a document that accompanies a painting or anything of worth at the point of the first sale. That means, when the painting goes into the wide world for the first time, it gets a sort of birth certificate. This birth certificate helps the world around the artwork place it concerning its parents/the artist and its career later. Any future sales of the painting can be added to the back of the painting and/or certificate. For a very long time, a signature of the artist and the original invoice was enough to prove the authenticity of an artwork. This act of including a certificate of authenticity is a way the art world tries to ensure credibility and transparency. It also acts as a paper trail for historical administration.
Why is a certificate of authenticity included?
In the art world as a whole:
Around the 1960s with installations, photography, performance art became more prevalent we moved to a new sort of art world. This new art world meant that the idea behind the art was more important than the physical piece. The concept of the artwork is more important than who creates the physical part. Making plagiarism of the idea or the object easy. Some artwork is even only sold as the idea. The buyer is in charge of completing constructing the artwork. Forgery had never been so easy.
This is still a very ongoing issue is with photographs, even here in The Netherlands today. We still see this happening a lot in photography prints meant for coffee table books, are torn out and sold as stand-alone prints. Unsuspecting photography lovers will recognize the photographers work and be amazed at being able to afford the work or that the work is even being sold. Officially these same photos will be sold in select batches in other formats too ensure their exclusivity. Being sold in another form is fraudulent. However, it isn't easy to know the administration behind prints and different formats of art being sold. Often photographers are left to find these dishonest art dealers themselves when admirers share or complain about these fake sold pieces. And as soon as these art dealers show up, they disappear, making them hard to trace. Or even legitimate art dealers, may fall on hard times and sell these types of photographs in the act of desperation. The artist never sees any of this money, and when it reaches media attention, harming the whole industry's credibility. So a certificate of authenticity is the industries way of combating fraud in the art market.
Paintings even with a signature:
In the world of paintings, we see fraud happen in being photographed and reproduced in China at a fraction of the cost. China has many skilled painters and has a more sharing cultural mindset. This skill and cultural difference is usually misused by western individuals attempting to pay less for a painting that touched them. No one wins in this situation. Not the artist, not the gallery investing in them, and Chinese painters are villainized by proxy of the actions of people attempting to save a few euros on a painting they liked.
Art historically, reproducing paintings this way was very usual. Art students first had to paint like the masters before becoming an artist in their own right. So the artist copied and reproduced each other's work, studying their form and technique. These reproductions are a vital part of becoming an artist and understanding how art travelled and was viewed in its contemporary time. The more (contemporary) copies made of an artwork is also how Art Historians know that the artist was famous in their time. It is a constructive way to study art, artist and their artistic reach. Also, a lot of high art from history was produced by a whole studio team employed by the master painter. The apprentice painted the background in the style of their mentor, and the artist would fill in the details or do the main person.
So the act of painting has a long and complicated history in itself regarding how we understand authentic artworks these days. In our current western society, we believe a painting is a painting of particular artwork when it is made by the hand of the specific artist. But obviously, this obsession with authenticity is also played with endlessly by the likes of Damien Hurst and Takashi Murakami. Both artists provide the idea of which other artists or artisans execute. These artists also use certificates of authenticity due to their artistic practice. Thus ensuring everyone is getting what they expect from the transaction. A certificate of authenticity helps ensure all the information is together in one place. It is signed for by the person in charge of the transaction, the gallery or the artist.
What does a certificate of authenticity look like?
A certificate of authenticity contains the following elements.
Details of the painting
The name of the painting
The Artists name
Year of Completions
A high-resolution photograph of the painting
Details of the Sale
Date it was sold
Who sold it: gallery and artist details
Artist information (extra)
Information about the artist and the artwork
We can only offer certificates of authenticity of the work sold by our own artists
Gallery Sorelle Sciarone is not a reseller or authenticator of any other paintings made by any other artist. We specialise in selling contemporary paintings by a new artist to modern collectors. The painters themselves have previously owned all paintings. That is why all our artworks come with a certificate of authenticity from us.
With the artist signature on the painting and the invoice, all the information you need to be sure that we hold the highest standard of respectability as a gallery.
We ask all our artist to sign their work if they have not done so themselves already. Most signatures are either on the back of the painting or the front. Some artist paints their signature and the year. Others paint or write their signature at the end, with or without a date. All the paintings are made post-1980 and the majority after 2010. Many of our female artists use their maiden names in their artwork. Or a combination of their maiden names and married names in their signature.
Artists and buyers
Every artwork sold, and the details of the sale are also sent to the artist.
The artist has the buyers details and the date, conditions and price the painting was sold under.
The painting always stays the intellectual property of the painter. That means the artwork cannot be used in a way that will harm the reputation of the artist. Usually, this is a term that never needs to be addressed, unless there is extensive media presence around the offending action. The buyer is the official owner of the painting, but cannot resell the image for profit.
Selling of your paintings by a living artist, you need to inform the gallery or the artist of the sale. Profits from the reselling of the artwork need to be shared with the artist or their heirs. But only if the paintings that are sold through professional channels for over €3.000,00 (three thousand euros). Except when the artwork sold within three years of the last sale, is exempt from profit sharing by the artist (or heirs). This copyright law stays in effect up until 70 years after the artist's death. Their estate may legally prolong this copyright. Profit-sharing of a sale is exempt when sold artwork is sold without professional intervention, such as between collectors/individuals or under €3.000,00.
The artist and heir always have the right to know where the art is located.
Our artist at the Gallery Sorelle Sciarone are not (yet) world-famous icons, and the chance that a museum will request their artwork for an exhibition soon is small. But the art world can and will surprise you.
The artist also has the right to request the temporary return of artwork for exhibitions. The buyer can say no to this request, but it is in everyone's best interest to stay open for these requests. The buyer still owns the physical painting. It will be returned to the owner after the exhibit, and all costs around the painting transfer and safety are for the artist/museum.
For more information regarding the rights around paintings, you can read the legal on the website of the Dutch government as the paintings are created in The Netherlands under the Dutch law of authors rights.