In an effort to keep fine art collectors more informed of the ebbs and flows of the art market, and in particular, Masterworks Fine Art, Inc.’s role as one of the most qualified fine art dealers online, we wanted to pass along an extensive and highly informative article on the topic of prints, originality, Certificates of Authenticity, fine art licensing, and licensing agreements.  Written by Brooke Oliver, a nationally recognized art and intellectual property lawyer based in San Francisco, CA, this article is a great reference for those who are interested in learning more about print authenticity.  Oliver covers the gamut of print making processes, the legal criteria for Certificates of Authenticity in many states within the U.S., determining the value of prints, and moreover, the significance of Certificates of Authenticity that must accompany the sale of any print.  She begins her discussion with a reference to the forefathers of the printmaking world, many of which we carry within our inventory; Albrecht Dürer, Martin Schongauer, and Rembrandt van Rijn provide a highly relevant background in establishing the age-old relationship between artist/printmaker, publisher, and dealer.  The bulk of the article serves as a reference for distinguishing the types of prints, editioning, and proofing.  She concludes the discussion with a section on art licensing and licensing agreements.

Oliver has included a brief summary of her work below:

This paper will explore the issues of authentication, value, and fraud that arise with the sale of fine art prints, and provides working definitions of the often misunderstood types of prints such as etchings, serigraphs, Giclée prints, and other terms used in and around print making and certificates of authenticity.  It provides information about numbering of limited edition prints, disclosures that are often required with the sale of such prints, and information about the significance of chop marks and copyright and trademark notices.  It includes information and resources about art agents and art licensing” (3). [Oliver & Sabec P.C., San Francisco, CA | tel 415.641.1116]

We highly encourage the due diligence of all of our prospective clients, interested collectors, and curious art lovers to take the time to engage, research, and become better informed about the art that drives their interest.  Masterworks is dedicated to its role as the primary online resource within the fine art and print community and believe that Oliver’s article is a great direction towards encouraging open, honest relationships between art dealers and their clients.*

Download PDF here (text version)

* The opinions expressed in the above article, in general, are exemplary, which in our ever-changing art market seem out of date given that this article was written in 2004.  If you have any questions or comments about the above article, you may contact President of Masterworks Fine Art, Inc., Alex Adelman at