Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sometimes I ruffle a few feathers.............

..........and it pisses someone off.

That was the case when I wrote about an eBay scam on the main website about a year ago. I titled it "Be careful out there" and reported on the electronic theft (by copy and paste, I guess) of three images of a Harold Newton River road painting that was, and still is, posted as "SOLD" on our website's Harold Newton page. The scam artist listed these images on eBay as though he had possession of the actual physical painting and offered it for sale at a fraction of it's true value for a buy-it-now. Naturally, someone hit that buy button to get an unbelievable bargain only to find out later that he'd been had. That someone was embarrassed and transferred his anger toward me, the messenger, whose sole motivation for writing the story was to alert my readers, whoever they may be, to the dangers of buying from unknown sellers on eBay. Didn't matter to him that I immediately contacted him and advised him of the situation and told him not to pay. File it under "C'est la vie".

I feel like doing some more feather ruffling now. Make some more enemies.

EBay has pushed me over the edge, again.

It's not unusual to see forgeries or counterfeit highwayman (especially H Newton) paintings on eBay on a regular basis. Sometimes it's through lack of knowledge, an innocent mistake, and sometimes the seller is just an agent for the owner, one of whom has been misinformed either intentionally or unintentionally. Innocent until proven guilty, right ? We never really know.

Often, however, the seller knows exactly what he or she is doing, and fully expects to get away with outright fraud. Why ? EBay doesn't care, number one. Number two, how could eBay possibly employ or even afford experts to monitor the eleventy billion paintings they have up for auction on any given day ? It's a good excuse, makes perfect sense.

Now, I'm not talking about the "great controversy" as to who is and who isn't a highwayman. Horace Foster can call himself a highwayman for all I care, just as Sam Newton can deny the designation. Same with the Stovalls, Myk Stalter and the like. Even the moron Billy Yeager (go ahead, someone tell me he's not a moron) can call himself a highwayman if he wants to. After all, this is the United States of America and we enjoy freedom of expression.

There exists, however, a list of 26 highwaymen artists, generated by Monroe's research for his 2001 book and subsequently carved in stone by the state of Florida for their Artists Hall of Fame.

Sorry, it's so easy to get off track. I want to address 3 paintings on eBay, one which just sold, one which is currently listed, and one which just closed but did not sell. The first is a so-called Harold Newton, Item number: 180297557595, that I believe was painted and signed H Newton (scratched in) by someone else. The style and the signature are both a just little bit off. A real nice try, though. This is my opinion, remember, but I have seen and studied at least a thousand genuine Harold Newton paintings since 1995.

Some poor bastard out there bought a very pretty hundred dollar painting for
$ 1500.00. He's not the first and I doubt he'll be the last. Here it is while it lasts :

Another painting is a so-called C Walker. Item number: 230301403122, currently available. If you want a "Walmart $ 19.95 special" oil painting for
$ 4600.00, you know where to find it.
Right here :

A third one just closed, another Walker, Item number: 360097248587, a pastel. It can be found in completed listings, for now, anyway. Incredibly, the listing included a certificate by a supposedly legitimate N Y appraiser, who, although a member of various national appraisal societies, obviously has not the slightest clue what she is doing in the world of highwaymen art. Here's the painting :
Here is the professional appraiser's link regarding this particular painting, which she appraised at $2,000.00
My favorite part is where she states, "I recognized your picture immediately." These words, apparently were meant to reinforce her standing as an experienced expert in the highwaymen art market, having seen lots of pastels by these guys, especially by Charles Walker. Maybe she meant something else. Should we give her the benefit of the doubt, gentle readers ?
In all fairness, she has a pretty face, I'll give her that.
Fortunately the painting did not reach the reserve and did not sell to a collector of highwaymen.
Watch out if it is relisted.

Be careful out there.