Heres What You Need To Know To Avoid An Art Scam

Art scams are a growing tendency around the world. More victims are approached by fraudsters and offered original art work from known artists.

Victims often are lured into a scam believing that they can own original art work of famous artists at just a fraction of the real value thereof, only later to find that they have in fact purchased a counterfeit product, worth even less than the price they paid to the fraudsters.

Heres What You Need To Know To Avoid An Art Scam

Currently the majority of art scams involve the counterfeit products of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali.


In the majority of instances the consumer will receive a postcard informing them that they have won a free original and valuable art piece.

They are requested to return the postcard to the sender with their contact information in order to make arrangements for collection and / or delivery of the artwork.

Upon returning the postcard, the consumer will subsequently receive a phone call from a telemarketer.

This phone call will turn into a discussion about an investment in which the consumer can be part of in owning this unique, original and invaluable piece of artwork from a famous artist.

Often fraudsters may use the names of known artists who are still alive, but will inform the consumer that the artist may pass away soon and the investment into their artwork will increase tremendously upon the death of such artist.

The nail into the coffin of this scam is the Certificate of Authenticity that is offered along with the artwork.

Fraudsters will inform the victim that they are in possession of the Certificate of Authenticity of the specific artwork and this will be handed to the victim, should he / she decide to invest by purchasing the artwork.

The artwork will then be offered at a fixed price to the victim.

In the majority of instances the price will be high due to the nature of the artwork and the artist, from which it originated, lending credence to the scam conducted on the victim.

In many instances fraudsters will offer the product stating that victims can pay in monthly instalments, but a fixed deposit is required before entering into this agreement.


The seller

Conduct research into the seller. Determine whether the seller is known in your community.

Also conduct Internet research into the seller and determine whether the seller has been involved in previous trading of artwork.

Generally sellers of artwork will have been involved in more than one transaction.

Have the artwork appreciated before purchase

Request the seller to accompany you and the product to a Museum Curator or independent Art Appraiser of your own choice to have the artwork investigated and appraised.

It is often these individuals who would be in a position to determine the authenticity of such artwork.

If the seller is not in a position to accompany you, obtain as much information as possible about the artwork, such as the print medium, edition size, the printer or publisher and the year of publication and approach a museum curator or art appraiser.

You could also request these individuals to accompany you to the seller to physically view and assess the artwork.

Be wary if the seller refuses to have the artwork appraised at all.

Sales Tactics

Always be wary of promises on high returns on your investment or strong and high pressure sales tactics.

Remember that high valued art works will always have a marketplace where they can be traded without any pressure on buyers.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. I’d never heard of this one, so thanks for posting.

    I guess the old adage is always correct: “if it sounds too good to be true; it is.”

    The simple truth is: high value artwork ends up at auction, at a reputable dealer. If you are really in that market, that’s where you should be looking.

    Do you think scams have gone up in the down economy? Or do you just think we’re hearing about them more generally?



    • Personally I think scams work because of peoples’ greed.

      Its true that “if it sounds too good to be true; it is.” but a shocking number of people don’t follow such sound advice, thinking that they are getting something for nothing or otherwise setting themselves up to make a killing.

      In the current economic climate there are also people who are, sadly, quite desperate.

      They too want, or even need, to find new ways of making quick and easy money.

      Therefore I would say that the number of scams has probably stayed the same but the number of potential victims continues to rise.

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