The closing of the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, in 2012, created a vacuum for authenticating the artist’s work. As of now, the major auction houses will not accept an Andy Warhol painting for auction unless it has been authenticated by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board or listed in the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné. However, these two venues are not foolproof. There are many genuine works out there that have not been documented or have been documented inaccurately. And there are a slew of fakes.
Determining a genuine Andy Warhol comes down to the artist’s intent. It was a very different matter for Warhol to sign a copy of his book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, with a tiny doodle of a soup can, versus allowing one of his photosilkscreens to be used to run off a specific number of canvases. Warhol functioned largely as an art director, authorizing others to collaborate in the creation of his work. A genuine Andy Warhol can be a painting or sculpture that’s been worked on by the artist, supervised by him, or authorized by him.
Crucial factors in identifying Warhol paintings include how the image compares to an existing series, when it was done, how it was made, and whether its provenance is logical. While colleagues and reference books might be consulted, Richard Polsky’s decision is ultimately based on thirty-plus years of involvement with Warhol’s art. Over time he has looked at literally hundreds of authentic Warhol canvases, along with a surprising number of pictures which were incomplete, cut-off in strips from larger multi-image paintings, discarded as rejects, and run off without his permission. Richard Polsky has also seen his share of outright forgeries.