Thursday, January 16, 2014

Forgerypalooza Update! Has The Gallery On Baum Closed Shop? I Think This Is A Wrap-Up.

It's been a while since I've written about Pittsburgh's Gallery on Baum, the storefront gallery and eBay vendor through whose hands flowed an extraordinary number of shoddy, laughable forgeries of cartoon and illustration art. How about an update?

Short answer: they're completely gone, apparently! But let's back up a moment.

First, a reminder: Please recall that I do not know who actually drew the forgeries sold by the Gallery on Baum, and uncovered no evidence whatsoever that Tony Greco, the proprietor, himself drew the forgeries, and never suggested that to be the case. I did, however, definitively prove that the drawings I wrote about were forgeries, using a variety of techniques, such as materials analysis, comparative/historical analysis, expert opinions from artists' estates, family members, and representatives,  testimonials from still living artists (!!), but most of all connoisseurship, which is an ineffable yet real thing that means "knowing what the fuck you are looking at."

So anyway, ha ha, those posts were good! And they got passed around quite a bit in the collectors community, and other people wrote excellent things about the Gallery on Baum's wares as well, just as Cartoon Brew and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had before I got into the effort. That all adds up to a massive Google Problem™ for Greco and the GoB; insurmountable, really, at this point.

"yeah, that's a fake." --T. K. Ryan

The GoB persisted for a short time after my series of articles and those by others, but I have a feeling that the heat was on (I also heard of some eBay pranksters who messed with them), and they rather suddenly ran out of obvious forgeries to sell on eBay. *poof* All gone! From that point on, they sold kind of low-rent, typical stuff: a genuine Tumbleweeds strip drawing here, a lackluster Archie animation cel there, etc. They weren't making money hand-over fist (in $50 and $75 dribs and drabs) like they were when they were pumping out all those hundreds (hundreds!) of drawings by that mysterious, unidentified yet super-prolific forger. I saw them try to flip a Tad Dorgan drawing they outbid me for (the nerve!), and they ended up taking a loss (no way I was going to buy it from them!). Hardly seems worth the effort.

Indeed. For several months now they've had zero items (see above) offered on eBay. Their last feedback on the site was last September. As for their storefront gallery, their website hasn't been updated since April of 2012, and their Facebook page appears to be gone. I can't find any evidence of any GoB activity at all recently.

They did, however, come up with a novel way to dispose of two of their more ambitious/egregious forgeries: here is a fake Warhol and here a fake Keith Haring donated by them to some weird (Charity? Fake charity? Do you detect a weird and scammy vibe?) auction that I can't figure out. How generous of them! I can't see any evidence that the pieces ever sold, and I first saw these on the site over a year ago. Note the "attributed to" butt-coverings.

Soooo... maybe that's it? Maybe something happened? Maybe Tony Greco has simply removed himself completely from the cartoon/illustration/animation art sales world amid ever diminishing returns? That would be nice. I hope that's so, because only one of the following statements can be true: either he is a prolific forger who intentionally duped his customers, or he was so inept a dealer as to have no apparent knowledge whatsoever of the presence of massive numbers of obvious, terrible forgeries in his inventory. In both cases a successful –yet totally inept– forger makes out like... well, like a bandit.

Either way, good riddance. Too bad about all those terrible, fake drawings floating around out there! They'll be popping up like bad pennies for decades to come. Fun!


Gregoire said...

I predict that, in the near future, you will be running across a completely unrelated Gallery X located in not-Pittsburgh selling strikingly similar forgeries over the interwebs.

Toriko said...

The posts you made about the forgeries were my favorite of your posts. It was a brief insight into a world I know very little about entertainingly presented by an expert. I almost wish he was still open so you could continue to talk about the bad forgeries.