The Andy Warhol Authentication Board Shuts Down Due to Legal Crisis


The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts plans to dissolve their authentication board in 2012. President Joel Wachs believes the foundations efforts are better spent ” … [maximizing] its grant-making and other charitable activities in support of the visual arts.” The board is charged with the task of reviewing and authenticating Warhol’s prolific body of work and consists of five scholars and curators — costing the foundation around $500,000 to operate. If that weren’t pricey enough, they’ve been buried in millions of dollars in legal fees from lawsuits brought on by unhappy patrons who have been trying to contend — what they feel — are the foundation’s questionable decisions. There’s a reason for that.

Remember the Brillo box scandal last year? Artist and curator Pontus Hulten — who worked closely with Warhol during his first retrospective — made his own Brillo boxes. They were created without the Pop artist’s license (and looked physically different), but were re-authenticated by the Warhol Foundation. In early 212, the 16-year-old board will start to use the same process afforded to all artists. While the news is happy for some, the shutdown seems like a bum deal for those left clutching their Warhols — particularly brokers and dealers whose clients may not commit to such a purchase without a true “authenticator” behind it. What other complications do you see arising from the board’s breakup?