Man Without Qualities

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Caveat Emptor

Instapundit links to Red Skelton's comments on the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Man Without Qualities has no problem with that.

However, the linked site includes this:

"In addition to being an accomplished entertainer, Noble Red is acclaimed as one of his century's greatest painters. His original oil paintings are displayed exclusively at Center Art Galleries, Honolulu, Hawaii, where they have been received with great acclaim by art critics and collectors from all over the world. Evocative of a bygone era, Red's clowns are welcome guests in homes worldwide, where you are continually reminded that the appeal of these fine character studies knows no bounds. Collectors include the rich and famous and those for whom the ownership of a painting by Red Skelton is the fulfillment of a lifetime dream. Past ISCA President John Whipple has a number of original paintings."

Before acquiring any Skelton piece that passed through the Centers Art Galleries, readers may wish to keep in mind that Center Art Galleries was the perpetrator of a major art fraud, in which fake lithographs and prints (claimed to be by Dali and other famous artists) were sold as originals. The owners of the Center Art galleries went to jail, and the Galleries seem to have closed. But the outfit - and the phony "art" it sold - keeps popping up.

The government may have inadvertantly facilitated and expanded the reach of the fraud:

"The 12,000 fake Dalis and nearly 1,400 works attributed to Ernst Miro, Norman Rockwell and other artists that had been sezied by the government in its raid of Center Art in April 1985 and additional pieces seized in November 1994 went on sale at an auction conducted by Koll-Dove Global Disposition Services on October 21, 1995, in Belmont, California, to the consternation of much of the art world. Prints bore small stamps on the backs reading:


Sculptures bore a similar, but removable, sticker. The one-by-two-inch stamp did little to assuage those concerned about the Dali fakes' re-entry into the marketplace. 'This sale put the government in the position of being an accessory to future art fraud,' Colorado art appraiser Bernard Ewell, who testified for the prosecution in the Center Art trial, told The New York Times. 'It's sad,' added Constance Lowenthal, executive director of the International Foundation for Art Research in New York, 'that the government had to try to recoup its fine money by sending these fraudulent works back into the market, marked or unmarked, when Center Art Galleries' revenues over a period of many, many years exceeded the fine by a huge multiple.'"

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