For this week’s installment, I’d thought you might a little cautionary tale about eBay and art forgeries.
image courtesy of Wikipedia
Meet Kenneth Walton, a computer programmer who claims to have been swept up in the murky waters of early eBay protocol. For some of the younger members of the audience this would be akin to the Dark Ages of the Internet, when could get away with multiple accounts and “shill bidding” to manipulate the final selling prices of items.
image courtesy of www.kennethwalton.com
In 2000 Walton found a painting in the back of a junk shop that (so he claims) felt well and truly like an unsigned Diebenkorn, and so decided to a) appropriately identify and b) pose as a novice seller who was unaware of what the painting “might” be worth. The auction exploded the internet and the final selling price was $135,805.00. Walton was discovered in the end and he and his accomplices were tried and convicted for shill bidding and Walton was banned from using eBay ever again.
Walton published an account of the Diebenkorn debacle entitled Fake: Forgeries, Lies & eBay in 2006. I would recommend reading it if you are at all interested in not only art forgeries but the early days of eBay, but remember to take everything with a grain of salt, as all auto-biographies are inevitably biased.
Enjoy your weekend!