One of the more common disputes that art insurers end up embroiled in are disputes over authenticity. Consider for example, a loss in market value claim. If the object at issue is really an Old Master, the loss could be significant. However, if it is a later copy, the loss could be quite nominal. To assist with authenticity claims, restorers and experts vet a painting by analyzing (among other things) brushstrokes, composition, iconography and pigments. A subjective finding results.
The latest craze attempts to turn subjective opinion into an objective science through the use of fingerprints. Peter Paul Biro is among the pioneers in this field. However, according to The New Yorker, all that glitters might not be gold. In this interesting article, Biro’s techniques are called into question — http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/07/12/100712fa_fact_grann?currentPage=all. Food for thought for all those who thought science could turn appraisals into a hard science.
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