Thursday, December 21, 2017

Valuation: "Dark-Web Shoppers Are Bidding $350,000 in Bitcoin for a Stolen Painting—and It’s Likely a Fake"

From ArtNet, Nov. 28:

“No serious collectors” buy art on the dark web—or do they?
Gottfried Lindauer, Chief Ngatai-Raure. Photo courtesy International Art Center
In April, two 133-year-old paintings of Māori tribal leaders Chief and Chieftainess Ngatai-Raure by Gottfried Lindauer were stolen from an Auckland gallery in a 4 am smash-and-grab raid. Now, an online bitcoin auction for a stolen Lindauer painting has some wondering whether the dark web presents a new threat to the legitimate fine-art market. But the director of International Art Center, the Auckland gallery that the work was stolen from, has assured artnet News that the painting being advertised is a 
“It is obvious this is a hoax,” wrote International Art Center director Richard Thomson in an email to artnet News, adding that “no serious art collector” would be buying art on the dark web. (This is not to say, however, that nobody buys art on the dark web—in fact, new tools have been developed to spot fakes or stolen works sold in these shadowy parts of the internet.)

The auction for the portrait Chief Ngatai-Raure (1884), which has been running on the illicit White Shadow market for at least a month, was brought to wide attention by an article in Wired last week. The technology magazine reported the listing by seller “Diabolo” as reading, “Here you can bid on an [sic] TOP SECRET original Painting from Bohemian painter Gottfried Lindauer that was stolen in New Zealand, Auckland 2017.”
The auction is scheduled to end on December 28. There have been several bids already, the leading of which is 35.1129 bitcoin, which is equal to around $350,000 and exceeds the painting’s legitimate auction price. The “buy now” price is more than $800,000....MORE