The Andy Warhol Foundation has developed a rather convoluted reputation in their quest to catalog and certify the vast collection of over 100,000 (across all media) works that Warhol created. The Foundation Board has made several controversial decisions regarding the authentication of specific prints and screen prints that have landed them with millions of dollars’ worth of legal bills and a negative reputation as the monopolizing entity of the Warhol market. However a collector may feel about their role in the art market, they play an important one. In an interesting turn of events this past month, the Andy Warhol Foundation announced that it will dissolve its authentication board at the beginning of 2012.
What does this mean for the collector? Will panic spread through the art market as Warhol’s go unregulated? That does not seem to be the case as the Art Newspaper brilliantly discusses in The problem with authenticating Warhol. In the article they note the facts" that none of the top five Warhol works sold at auction have been stamped by the board...”. With only 16 out of 49 works for sale this past month having been authenticated by the board, there is no reason for collectors to fear.
All of the top record-breakers are, however, detailed in the artist’s catalogue raisonné that the Warhol Foundation has compiled. There are three completed volumes of the catalogue that document Warhol’s paintings, prints, screen prints, and sculpture until 1974. The foundation’s mission is to make a complete catalogue of all of Warhol’s works and will continue to review works submitted for inclusion in future editions, but in its own time (unlike the authentication board, which took requests).
The Foundation stepping away from the market to focus on scholarship will undoubtedly led to good things. A more complete catalog of Warhol’s work will aid the art market in regards to authenticity as the new scholarship will include his drawings and photographs, which currently do not exist in a cohesive form. When looking at the Warhol works the Authentication Board has been exposed to, there is no cause for concern as only 6,000 of Warhol’s more than 100,000 works have gone through the authentication process. Thus the only advice to offer a collector is to practice due diligence in regards to researching the provenance of a piece and feel 100% comfortable and confident in their purchase.