At the beginning of April, 2012, I contacted Art Experts, Inc. based on the information they provided on their website offering art authentication and related services. I called and spoke with Beth Evans. She asked me to forward to them information on the painting I was researching, with photographs. These were photographs taken by me in October, 2011. The objective was to determine the provenance of the painting which my late wifes parents purchased sometime late 1960s to 1972 in Boston.
Beth responded on or about April 10th that The work looks very strong and has good similarities to other known works by Clyfford Still. She went on We have worked with this artist many times and currently researching a work by this artist for another client. We have all necessary resources to research and authenticate his work.
When I hesitated on their agreement since I wanted to further verify their authenticity, I was called on or about April 16th by Nadine Granoff, who represented herself as the Washington DC area representative of the company, and that she would personally handle the research. She stated that all the records are available at the Smithsonian and she had access since she was affiliated with the Smithsonian as well. This all sounded very good.
I sent the agreement and the check into their office on April 17th. Mark Winter signed the agreement using the date it was drafted on April 11th. I received confirmation a couple of days later that they had received the fee.
About a month went by, and I emailed my concern that I had not heard any more from their representative here, and that they had not even seen the painting. I was informed by Beth that the report was in finalization and on the way. That seemed a bit strange since you cannot verify any data without physical inspection of the work.
The report came. It was a bound version of a middle school level report with photos from the Internet and my original photographs. They concluded that the work was not this artist, using the same data which they had before the original email from Beth stating it had such strong similarities. The other main reason is that there are so few of this artists works in private hands that the probability of its authenticity was small. I called Mark Winter and questioned the report. He tried to defer to the researcher, unknown to me who that was, but I did not let relent. He offered to call me back.
The return call came from Nadine Granoff. She stated that she had not seen any of the materials, did not know anything about the facts of the research and was told that they were handling this in Florida. When we discussed our prior conversation she agreed that we would start over and she would handle the work. I was instructed to ignore the report. About 10 days later Nadine asked me to bring the painting to her. She worked from her home in Washington, DC. She photographed the painting from all sides, including the fact that light passed through the painting from the back to the front. This she stated was a strong indication of the authenticity from the late 60s for that artist.
In fact Nadine asked if I would not mind if she offered the painting to one her California clients who was not related to Art Experts, Inc. for his collection. I did agree although I did not hire them to sell the work.
Time marched on. I communicated many time with Nadine Granoff and was told (1) she could not find the sale in the Betty Parsons records (she seemed to forget that this artist stopped working with the New York sales galleries about 15 years prior to the time of this work), (2) was working with the staff at the Hirshhorn and was able to get up and personal with the works they have on exhibit by Still, and (3) when I asked about the results from their company was told that two of their experts disagree as to the originality of the work with one finding that it is an original Clyfford Still, and the other finds that the work has all the aspects but was uncertain due to the green color in the painting.
I did try to work with her assuming that she was telling the truth, and even found the same colors on the Internet with other Still works and sent these to her. She found a way to discredit these results stating that the light, photo shop, etc. made them unusable.
When I asked about galleries is Boston it took her nearly a week to respond. During that period I was able to find a listing of galleries on or near Newbury Street, where it was purchased, cross referenced and found the ones from the time period. By the time Nadine sent her list I had already contacted them and about have replied to me. If she were serious about this work, she would have been happy to contact them.
Nadine was great at sending me off to other experts and companies. She suggested an art representation and sales firm in New York, and another for forensic work. The art sales company had never heard of her or her employer, and was unable to help referring me to the Clyfford Still Museum. The forensic company replied immediately and their response enclosed shows that it was a bit premature since their work is used to substantiate the authentification. It gave a me a great sense of inadequacy with the work of Nadine Granoff and Art Experts, Inc.
The final blow as when I questioned what was going on, used their own emails to show lack of consistency. The response from Mark Winter was for a conference call with Nadine and him, which never occurred. The blame was shifted, refuted, and finally Nadine called and stated that they would be refunding my fee. I sent an email to Mark Winter and no confirmation of that was given. In fact they have done all they can to not allow a conference call and lastly stating that Nadine Granoff was off the table in the discussion. This entire scenario, and responses simply smack of fraud. It is not whether or not the work of art can be certified, since it has been with us for nearly 30 years, but the complete disregard for the client, and obvious deceptions in order to collect such a small fee.