Monday, March 05, 2012

Random Nancy Panel Forgery

Oh, hello! Sorry I've been away, but I've had this really nasty cold, so... well, whatever. So much coughing! It wasn't pretty.

And neither is this absolutely terrible fake Ernie Bushmiller drawing (see above) for sale on eBay. I feel sad for whomever buys it (a well-known Bushmiller expert told me, "I could do a better forgery asleep in the bathtub."). Curious, I looked at the seller's other offerings, and found a panoply of obvious fakes (such as this one, this one, and this one) by big names mixed in with real works by small names.

Turning to the Googles, I found out that this guy, Tony Greco, proprietor of the Gallery on Baum, is perhaps the most brazen seller of forged drawings in the specialized cartoon/animation art market. Several blogs have revealed the astonishing extent and laughably poor quality of his offerings (see here and here, for instance), and even the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette got into the act a couple of years ago in an extensive article in which the author never comes right out and calls him a crook, but it's easy enough to read between the lines, especially when representatives of the Warhol and Charles Schulz estates aren't so coy about their opinions. My favorite part of the article is where Greco denies drawing the stuff himself, claiming, "I can't draw a straight line." LOL, well, see the fake Bushmiller above for a nice backup of that statement.*

So what are we to learn from all this? First: don't buy a Picasso, Miró, or Dalí on eBay, OK? But most of Greco's fakes are more modest items: so-called "convention sketches" on small cards by cartoonists and animators. Even genuine examples of these types of drawings are usually minor items, done for fans on the fly over bustling tables crowded by onlookers, not the best circumstances for careful draftsmanship. That's how Greco gets away with it: he excuses the poor quality of the drawings by "admitting" that they are minor curiosities with, after all, affordable price tags. It's a pretty good scam! Need I remind you that if something seems too good to be true, it probably isn't?

In conclusion, if you wish to collect cartoon art, stay away from "convention sketches" and unpublished art unless you get them directly from the artist (here's a good example of a safe buy), and even if you do, don't expect them to ever be worth much or to be able to resell them unless you've got solid documentation (many fans at conventions now take quick digital snapshots of the artists while they're drawing the pieces).

And one final note: Greco has a 100% positive rating on eBay. For selling fake after fake after fake!

*I'm guessing Greco (or the trained chimp he employs) uses some sort of opaque projector to create his wares, or at the very least a lightbox; the draftsmanship is so poor that I doubt it's freehand.

UPDATE: Greco just listed another piece, an astonishingly bad Popeye drawing "by Bud Sagendorf." Sagendorf could have drawn a better Popeye with his feet! Unbelievable.

UPDATE: Just for fun, I sent Gallery on Baum a "feedback request" on eBay:
Sooooo... you guys know this can't possibly be genuine, right? Not genuine Bushmiller, anyway.
To which they responded, hilariously:
Oooh, Thanx with an "x"! How strange that they sound so unconcerned! It's almost like I was telling them something they already knew!

UPDATE: evidence of forgery belabored tiresomely here.


HRH King Friday XIII, Ret. said...

Damn Chinese.

Matthew Hubbard said...

Google has been messing with the comments software. There is no longer a button to click to have later comments sent to your e-mail. That's too bad.

But not as bad as the fake Bushmiller.

Anonymous said...

Wish there were some place you could buy Saul Steinberg's drawings on the cheap...

Diane Griffin said...

The closer you look, the crappier it gets. Especially between the lines.

The Cat's Meow said...

The Bernie Madoff of the cartoon collection world.

Peteykins said...

Anonymous: That's exactly what Greco counts on, people wishing for the unlikely, like cheap Saul Steinberg drawings. If you ever see a cheap Steinberg drawing, you can safely assume it's a fake. He is a frequently forged artist, because he was prolific and his style appears "easy".

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a lying sack of you-know-what. A., if his "friendship" with Charles Schulz predates Schulz's second marriage, which took place in 1973, Greco would have had to have been 15 or younger. Sparky hung around and talked art with children? Hm. B., The "tide started turning" for animation art in the 1970s, not the 1980s (my spouse started collecting cels in the '70s, thankfully not from Greco). C., I hope the reporter's not confusing this Kevin Burns guy with Ken Burns, who I can't imagine liking either Greco or "The Munsters." D., Greco watches FOX "News" all day, so what does that tell you? E., I'm worried about the cats.

samael7 said...

This has to be my favorite PSP PSA ever.