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Welcome to our April 2007   Newsletter!

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News from the world of art and antiques

Artist Blasts eBay for Forgeries

GLASGOW, Scotland, March 20, 2007—Artist-to-the-stars Peter Howson said he recently discovered a surprise on eBay—a forgery of his work that sold for £900, the Daily Record reports.

Howson, a favorite of Jack Nicholson, David Bowie and Madonna, said he believes other forgeries of his work have been sold via the auction Web site.

“I’m sure there are more, but I just do not know about them,” Howson said. “The rise of the internet makes this difficult to regulate. It’s bloody annoying and infuriates me beyond belief. I suspect it may just be one or two people doing a lot of them and I will find out who it is.”

He also accused a Glasgow auction house of selling the forgery last autumn, which led to it later trading on eBay.

Howson, whose dark, brooding canvases normally sell for around £4,000, was alerted by his stepdaughter, who spotted the fake version of Steam Age.

Lee McCallum, director of The Art Company Scotland, which sells original Howsons, said fakes were on the rise.

“Increasingly, people are just looking for a good deal and lose sight of the pitfalls of buying on something like eBay,” McCallum said.

Ebay responded with the statement: “We take the issue of counterfeiting extremely seriously. We have a system inviting specialists to notify us if they believe there is an issue with a listing, at which point we would investigate and take the item off the site.”


Goddard's Silver Polish


TV Art Scam Bilked Buyers of Millions

LOS ANGELES, March 6, 2007—A couple who sold art through televised auctions admitted selling bogus works and forging signatures of artists including Picasso, Chagall and Dali in a scam that bilked buyers out of millions of dollars, prosecutors said.

In court documents filed Monday, Kristine Eubanks, 49, and her husband, Gerald Sullivan, 51, were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.

Eubanks also was charged with tax evasion, and Sullivan was charged with failure to file a tax return.

Prosecutors said the couple agreed to cooperate with investigators in an ongoing criminal probe to capture other scam artists. The two have not formally entered pleas.

''The defendants in this case have admitted to profiting by preying on the vulnerabilities of producers and consumers of art through an elaborate criminal enterprise,'' said J. Stephen Tidwell, assistant director of the FBI in Los Angeles.

The operation involved the couple's satellite television show ''Fine Arts Treasures Gallery.''

The government estimated the show defrauded more than 10,000 people who paid more than $20 million for bogus art. Investigators seized nearly $4 million when Eubanks and Sullivan were arrested during a raid in September.

The couple told authorities they rigged the auctions of art and jewelry by creating inflated bids, and that they purchased fake art, forged art at a print shop and sold the bogus works on their show, according to court documents. Prosecutors said the couple also created false appraisals and certificates of authenticity.

Eubanks could face up to 10 years in federal prison; Sullivan up to six. Eubanks has been in custody since the September raid because she was on probation at the time. The two are from La Canada, about 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles.


Tiny Faberge Chair Sells for $2.28M

NEW YORK, April 18, 2007— A 2 1/4-inch Faberge chair sold for $2.28 million at a Sotheby's auction Tuesday, easily surpassing the $1 million presale estimate.

The chair, made of gold and enamel by the Russian jeweler Carl Faberge, was included in a two-day Russian art sale that totaled $50.9 million, slightly higher than the $48.7 million presale estimate.

Sotheby's auction house said Faberge miniature furniture, such as the empire-style chair, is among the rarest of the artist's creations and is not often auctioned.

The sale price included an auction house commission. The buyer was not named.

The sale also featured other Faberge works: A timepiece sold for $1.38 million, and a desk clock doubled its estimated price and sold for $240,000.

A number of paintings also were sold, including a Mikhail Nesterov work entitled Vision of St. Sergius When a Child, which went for $4.29 million, more than doubling its $2 million estimate.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press


The Care and Feeding of Antiques



Dexter S. Augier by Dexter S. Augier


What causes sterling silver to tarnish?

Tarnish is usually caused by the contact of the sterling silver to gasses in the air, (mainly sulfur), food particles, and humidity. Tarnish isn’t sitting on the surface, but becomes chemically bound into it.

Frequent use removes, or at least reduces, the need for polishing.  Over time, your sterling items will develop a warm, rich tone called a “patina”, also known as a ‘butler’s finish’.  A slightly darker shading (oxidation) in the cracks and crevices of the design will develop and enhance the definition of the pattern.


Silver should be cleaned immediately after use, especially after contact with food that may cause corrosion or contain acids such as eggs, tomatoes, mayonnaise or salt. Wash in hot soapy water using a mild soap and rinse in clean hot water. Dry immediately to avoid spotting. Avoid lemon scented detergents and those containing chloride. They can be harmful to the silver.
Don’t soak your silver overnight.  Prolonged immersion in water may damage the metal. Washing in a dishwasher is not recommended, as the extreme temperatures may loosen hollow-handled pieces. If you do use a dishwasher, remove the pieces before the drying cycle, and don’t let them touch any other metal, as this will permanently stain the silver.

Candle wax can be removed from a silver holder by simply running hot water over the area containing the wax, and blotting/wiping with paper towel.  Don’t risk scratching the piece by using a knife or other sharp object.


Polish with any brand name silver polish.  We prefer Goddard’s Silver Foam, but Wright’s and Hagerty’s products will work just as well.   Goddard’s does smell better, though!  The important thing is to follow the directions.  Dips are not recommended; they over clean, and will remove the oxidation (the dark color down in those crevices) from intricate designs in the patterns.  Some pieces should not be immersed in water. Items containing mirrors, wooden parts, fabric, glue, etc. should be carefully polished with a soft cloth or sponge, using as little foam as possible, then wiped with a barely damp sponge or cloth. For especially small areas of silver near parts that must not become wet, a Q-Tip dabbed into the foam will usually do the job.  If a particular spot of tarnish refuses to fade away after several attempts, you are better off leaving it alone.
Wash the piece again and dry with a lint-free cloth.  I like to leave the piece out overnight to thoroughly dry before storing it away. 


Your silver should be stored in a silverware chest, in Tupperware, or in bags made of tarnish resistant cloth.  Storing loose in drawers will cause scratching, and some woods contain acids that will stain the silver. Keep silver away from dampness and direct sunlight. Don’t wrap in plastic, newspaper or foil or bind with rubber bands.  Don’t use wool, felt, chamois leather or newspaper, which can cause excessive tarnishing that will be difficult to clean, or even worse, remove plating.  Cotton felt, wool, and velvet contain sulfides that attack the metal.

If you're storing silver in a display cabinet, camphor blocks can be added to help prevent tarnish, but don't let them actually touch the silver pieces. Special anti-tarnish papers and cloths containing activated carbon or silver salts can be placed in display cases as well. You can purchase these items from jewelers or department and specialty stores where new silver pieces are sold.

When handling silver between cleanings, you'll want to wear white cotton gloves or use a clean, soft cotton cloth to cradle the item as you move it around.  You don’t want to leave behind any of the salts, oils and acids found in your skin which can cause corrosion if they aren't immediately removed.   Fingerprints can even be etched into the silver if left uncleaned for a long period of time…. not the most endearing way to be remembered!

Did you know...?

by Dexter S. Augier

Silver in the Scripture is associated with redemption, and therefore with purity. Because of these early associations, European folklore has long held silver to be a remarkable substance. Kings and potentates had their drinking cups made of silver as it was believed to be an antidote for poison. Silver was also believed to be powerful against fictional monsters. Mirrors were originally polished silver, and as such, the odious and wicked vampire could not be seen in them. Also, a werewolf, in his bestial form, could only be killed by a weapon or bullet made of silver. This has led to today, when a solution is described as being very effective in dealing with a specific problem, it is often called a "silver bullet".


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