Auction House Photoshops Damage

Almost everything is bought and sold online now, and to many people’s surprise, so is fine art. But besides making it difficult for consumers to truly experience a work of art before purchasing, many online retailers have begun to outright manipulate and alter the digital representations of what they are selling.

Recently, Robert thought about bidding on a painting by contemporary Mexican artist, Francisco Toledo. Toledo is one of the best known living artists from Mexico, and his work can often fetch a steep price. In the most recent cycle of Latin American art auctions, one painting by the renowned artist titled, Tortuga Poniendo Huevos, sold for over a million usd ($1,032,500) at Christies in New York.

Before placing a bid on the piece Robert was looking at, he contacted the auction house for more information. He asked them to send him more images of the piece so that he could asses the condition of the work.

Upon receiving the images, he noticed significant damage; there was obvious paint loss in the lower left hand corner and a very visible crease in the bottom right hand corner. The colors of the image were also significantly less bold and vivid, it appeared as if the work may have been faded by the sun.

Often times, online merchants, such as auction houses will crop works of art if they are damaged (as damage often occurs near the edges, especially with works on paper).

This image however was not cropped, it was outright photoshopped. The bottom corners of the painting were visible on the auction house platform, but the damage was disguised, the colors were also noticeably different.

As you may have guessed, Robert did not bid on the piece. The added cost and time necessary to restore the piece was not worth it.

Because of incidents like these (which are becoming more and more common), we highly recommend anyone who purchases art work online to try to see the piece in person if possible; f not, always ask for a condition report (including more images of the piece removed from the framing and any matting), and ideally the opinion of a third-party professional.