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Closeup image featuring the attribution of a Florida Highwaymen painting

Certificates of Authenticity

Authenticity is the most important component in the value of artwork. If it is not authentic, it has virtually no value. Anyone interested in art has probably read about the abundance of art forgeries. Even such august institutions as the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York have discovered forgeries within their collections. Movies have been made about them, and there is even an exhibit of forged masterpieces, good enough to fool the experts, touring museums across the world. Forging art is big business.

Naturally, the more valuable a piece of artwork is, the more money there is to be made by a forger. Over the years, numerous forged A.E. Backus and Florida Highwaymen paintings have been sold at online auction sites, in antique malls, through private owners and even occasionally through an unwitting but reputable gallery. It seems that there is no shortage of crooks trying to take advantage of art buyers. Unfortunately, even when fraud is discovered and forgeries are detected, prosecutions are rare. Economic crimes are low on the list of law enforcement priorities. Your best defense is a good offense.

It makes no sense to authenticate a painting retroactively. This means that once you have purchased a piece of artwork, it is too late to discover whether it is authentic. Purchasing artwork is the ultimate buyer beware situation. As the website states, “unless a certificate of authenticity originates from and is signed by either the artist who created the art, the publisher of the art (in the case of limited editions), a confirmed established dealer or agent of the artist (not a casual third party or re-seller), or an acknowledged expert on the artist, that certificate is pretty much meaningless.”

Your best defense in purchasing original artwork is to purchase it from the artist or a reputable gallery. In the case of artwork that is being resold, such as Florida Highwaymen, it is virtually impossible to have money refunded from online sites such as eBay, where forgeries abound. The old adage, if it seems to good to be true it probably is, holds particularly true when purchasing art. The bargain A.E. Backus or Harold Newton you find on eBay may very well be a forgery or a digital print textured to look like an original. Digital printing can create images on canvas that appear to be originals. Highwaymen paintings, known for their bright unmixed colors and hastily rendered images are particularly easy to forge.

As experts in Florida art, Florida Art Appraisals is imminently qualified to authenticate paintings for you prior to purchase. Do not hesitate to ask an art dealer or even a private seller to obtain a Certificate of Authenticity (CoA) before you purchase a piece of artwork from them. It is a common practice, and any reputable seller will not be surprised or offended. They will simply recognize you as a savvy buyer. As previously stated, after you purchase it is too late to authenticate.

A CoA is not the same thing as an appraisal and cannot be used for insurance purposes or for other situations where the value of the painting is in question. Additionally, ethics rules prohibit a document acting as both a CoA and an Appraisal. If the authenticity of a piece is in question, it is best to determine authenticity and then seek an appraisal.


Certificates of Authenticity Base Fee $700 - Price may be more depending on the complexity of the project.

Travel Fee: $ .70 per mile, minimum charge $25.00

Travel Time, Onsite Evaluation, Research: $100.00 per hour, minimum charge


All Fees must be paid in full prior to the delivery of Certificate of Authenticity. Requester will receive a digital copy via email.

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