The basic story of Yuanminyuan, and why China has a right to be militaristically defensive!

I have walked this location with my best friend from China on my first trip ever there in 1999. It was very moving, and it was profound how few Westerners were there to understand.

This is part of the truth about how the west treated China in the 19th century, and is in large part why they have slowly but surely developed a stronger and stronger military. It is also akin to why Jewish art must be returned to the ancestors of the owners after the Nazis took it in WWII. My issue is, until really the late 20th century, this was the world rule, when you concurred another country/culture, all spoils of war were taken permanently by the winning party… So, should China be required to give back all art and antiques from the Mongols, etc…? What is fair, it is a very hard questions, but it MUST go both ways, regardless of the country.

Enjoy the read, Greg C. Brown, M.S., ISA AM.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30810596

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An excellent example of how hard it is to prove important art works…

An interesting article about possible proof of the only existing Michelangelo bronzes known to exist! This is a great example of how hard it is to prove important examples of art work and antiques.

People often do not understand the extreme importance of provenance and/or factual evidence and/or forensic evidence in authenticating and placing the highest possible values on important antiques and art works. Doing that work is no small process. I am asked all the time to do authentication work, however, people do not understand nor want to pay for that work and expect us to rubber stamp things, which any legitimate art and antiques professional will never do and which far too many un-credentialed appraisers and antique dealers do do. if you want a rubber stamp, look to them, not us, but expect trouble when you want to get your insurance, tax deduction or sell the piece.

Authentication can not be done without doing all of the necessary work, period. The commitment must be made to doing ALL of the necessary work every time. It is not cheep, it generally is a slow process, some times painfully slow, but it can be the difference between an appraisal of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars , and a few thousands  dollars or even a few hundred dollars. Therefore, in the end, if you truly believe you have the real thing, it is more than worth the costs involved in proving it, but you must commit to doing it right from the beginning and not getting cold feet or trying to cut corners. Otherwise,  the client does not believe it is what they say if they do not want to commit to the proper and full process of authentication work and spend the money on it. It is much like investing in the stock market, or gambling, you must study what you want to buy/game you want to play, and commit to the belief you know what you are doing, but know that some times you lose. However, if you do your research and training properly and intelligently, you have a much better chance to back up your belief in what you are doing.

I had a client who had two potentially important Chinese paintings, but they only wanted to go so far in proving their authenticity, which was not enough, and I explained that to them. I explained that more specialists needed to be involved, but they were only willing to allow one, which is not how to do it. You must have a consensus of experts, and the only specialist-expert I was allowed to consult with to give a second opinion, gave results that matched our preliminary results, which were that 1) we need more work to establish factual evidence, 2) the current evidence pointed to the works being very old reproductions, not originals, and so the expert was in agreement with these initial conclusions, which means, we must state the pieces were not originals. In the end, I had to go with the limited proof that they allowed me to establish, which showed the works were not originals. I actually do believed they may be originals, but without the client allowing all the necessary and proper authentication work to be completed, it is NOT possible to prove. And, thus, they had to be declared not to be originals, until after more evidence was compiled, no matter my personal opinion, as my job is to be unbiased, and unfortunately, that is the only unbiased decision that could be made under the limiting circumstances of the clients. The lesson as a client, you need to be willing to commit to the entire process and trust and allow us to do our work. Some times we will break your heart, however, when we prove authenticity, we will bring elation and significant value.

If this link  Proving authenticity is very hard!  does not work, here is the URL to copy and paste, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-31085336

Enjoy the read, Greg C. Brown, M.S., ISA AM.

 

 

What ironic timing to the last article! The elephants are next to go extinct!

http://www.king5.com/news/editors-pick/6-tons-of-seized-ivory-being-crushed-in-Denver-231828871.html

They killed at least 32,000 African elephants last year, with only about 500,000 knows to exist in the wild any more. At that rate, they all may be dead in under 16 years, that means there may be no wild elephants by 2029!

We really need to put our trillions of war dollars into making the lives of people in Africa and other poaching countries acceptable, this would be easy, just with a quarter of the US military budget! And, we would still have the strongest military in the world and would still be spending more on it that the rest of the world combined! It can be done, but greed continues to kill people, animals, morals and entire societies!

This is part of the Asian arts and antiques industry and we have a responsibility in it too, including prevention!

The image below is from the King 5 News article.

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Shame on all humans! Western Black Rhino has been declared extinct!

Shame on all humans! Western Black Rhino has been declared extinct!

Oh man! Please read the story in the link above! It is really, really terrible. My heart has sunk when I read it! What a loss to the entire history of life on earth, as there was absolutely no natural reasons for this to happen at this time other than ignorance, stupidity, selfishness and insatiable greed! So, fools, where are you going to earn your money now? I am very sorry for the human race’s inexcusable actions against all of my Black Rhino relatives… The main driving force behind this atrocity is the Chinese medicine industry’s ignorance and lack of desire to simply educate people and find a real solution to offer! In the US, we call this a snake oil sale man, and Doctors who do this are called quacks! Shame on any one saying they are a Healing Doctor who prescribed this, or anyone who preached this path to “health”! Also, the greatest of shame on all Governments  including my own and especially China (who would have had the greatest impact on stopping this from happening – if they could end foot binding, they could just as easily change the people’s perceptions of the use of Rhino horn as medicine!), who do not enforce international laws and CITIES on such critical issues! So, so sad!

The image from this article, below, is sadly of a now dead animal that was only recently one of the last living Black Rhinos on earth! We need to start to care and pay attention people, we have become blind to Mother Nature and her vital importance to our long-term survival!  We killed  off the Steller’s Sea Cow by 1768, only 27 years from first contact in 1741! The Elephants ARE next! Do we really want to kill off the largest living land animals? 

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Lost Sri Lankan Buddhist antiquity used as door step! Amazing!

Great story! A 1,400 year old Sri Lankan Buddhist temple step removed from Sri Lanka in the British Colonial era, brought back to England and passed down generations, and eventually was once again used as a step, how apropos. This piece was rediscovered as the important piece that it is after being rejected by Sothebys and the UK Antiques Roadshow! It sold at Bonhams for over $840,000.00 USD, after Sothebys discounted it and the Roadshow was not interested, so, even despite their great stature, this proves that a cursory look at things is not definitive, even by the most famous and “best” groups/people in the world! The key is care and attention to detail, something the can generally not be done with a mail in inquiry to the auction houses.

Items are missed all the time this way, and then discounted and then forgotten to time once again. This kind of thing is not unusual around the world. What is unusual is for it to be identified properly for what it is by careful unbiased examination by someone who was allowed to take enough time to do so. It is not inexpensive extra work to under take, but the payoffs clearly can be incredible. Would it have been worth your investment of some thousands of dollars to make an $840,000 profit? I bet your answer is yes! This BLOWS nearly even investment cost in the world away relative to the return!

This is exactly what I do, make sure that what we have is what we have, if it is authentic or not! It is my specialty.

This article is a fun read. Enjoy. The two images below come directly from the article found on the Dailymail website, at:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2313725/1-300-year-old-Buddhist-temple-stone-used-family-doorstep-sells-500-000-auction-BBCs-Antiques-Roadshow-Sotherbys-turned-away.html

Sincerely, Greg C. Brown, MS, ISA, CAGA, MN ’09.

President, Greg C. Brown & Associates, Inc. Fine art and antique appraisals, identifications, authentications, consulting and brokering.

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If you have an interest in detecting fake art and antiques, go to Black Light World!

I am not one to promote other companies and people very often. However, I have found a company with total integrity, who only sell the real and proper black lights for working with fakes and counterfeits. Their prices are fair, they have excellent knowledge and their products are not flimsy cheap pieces, they are good quality. Please feel free to visit their site, and even let them know you found out about them here at my blog. The owner is a genuine and good person to boot: http://www.blacklightworld.com/Contact.htm.

The photo below comes from the website, http://www.lakesidepottery.com/Pages/Repairing-restoring-ceramic-porcelain-china-pottery-lessons-tutorials.html.

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Excellent short video discussion of how to handle and look at Chinese paintings!

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This is a really great discussion about, and of how to handle, view and enjoy traditional Chinese paintings by one of the worlds great Chinese painting scholars, Dr. Maxwell Hearn, the Douglas Dillon Curator of Asian art at no less than the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Within this discussion you will hear the interesting treatment of perspective that is common in traditional Chinese painting and many similar Asian traditions of painting. People like retired U. C. Berkeley professor, Dr. James Cahill, discussed similar things about perspective in his work. While at one of the Asian Arts Curatorial Council meeting, to which I was a member from 2001 – 2010, my friend the retired Curator of Asian Art of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Dr. Robert Jacobsen, talked about the unusual nature of perspective as portrayed in Chinese painting as well. Perspective in these paintings can be very different from that generally employed by Western artists, so it some times looks and can even feel strange to westerners. However, this is part of what makes their style of painting so curious and interesting. Enjoy the video, which I originally found at the New York Times website, but I have found again here posted on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPmED0GbYUs.

The image above comes from the website Little Red Book, a Million Conversations, found at: http://www.littleredbook.cn/2009/04/13/construction-cranes-in-the-bamboo-forest-balancing-nature-and-urbanization-in-china-psa-advertising/. This site has an interesting discussion of Chinese paintings also worth reading. Enjoy.

Sincerely, Greg C. Brown, MS, ISA.