Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tony Greco and Cartoon Art Forgeries

Above: an original from Mr. Greco's collection, attributed to Bill Watterson, from the PG Slideshow of his collection.

Tony Greco collects cartoon art and fine art. That's his claim in this Pittsburgh Post Gazette article by Sally Kalson. Several people, when asked about him, including Lucy Caswell, curator of the renowned OSU Cartoon Library & Museum, and Jean Schulz, the widow of Charles Schulz, say he deals in fakes.

Mrs. Schulz says she's seen original PEANUTS art from Greco's collection that's "clearly not Sparky's work."

Mr. Greco says his critics are out to get him.

"'They don't want to believe someone like me could have all this great stuff,' he says. 'The art world is very cliquey, and I'm an outsider they can't control. They're scared of me because I have so much, they don't know where it ends. And you know what? It never ends. If I let it all out, it would depress the market overnight.'"

The art world and the cartoon art world are not one and the same, as Mr. Greco makes it sound. It would be wonderful to have an original George Booth cartoon next to the Mona Lisa, but, well, that's not the world we live in. Neither do these worlds conspire.

Above: an original from Mr. Greco's collection, attributed to Charles Addams.

The reason he is criticized is because he chooses not to "submit them [originals] to the artists' estates or foundations for authentication because, he says, he doesn't trust them."

As you read, you will find one supporter. Musician-songwriter George Michalski believes Tony Greco. He adds:

"'Anything I want, he comes up with -- signatures of Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Kennedy.'

"In the beginning, he says, he took things from Mr. Greco to dealers who specialize in the named artists and autographs.

"'They would have been happy to tell me something wasn't real, believe me. But they said everything they saw was authentic. Since then I haven't thought twice about anything from Tony. In fact, I'm in the midst of buying a Matisse from him right now.'"

When the only people who will vouch for your story are those who have a vested interest, then you are suspect.

The Gallery on Baum, which is holding showing of his collection, should be ashamed. But perhaps they are as shameless as Mr. Greco.

Hat tip to Dad for letting me know about this. Thanks, Dad!


richardcthompson said...

Smells to high heaven, I'd say.

Brian Fies said...

Yeah, the photos aren't very high quality, but the art I know enough about to have an opinion on doesn't look right to me. Too tentative and traced-looking. An interesting question to me is, if they're fakes, is Greco a conspirator or dupe? He could've bought them in good faith and been fooled himself. Unfortunately, any skim through eBay turns up countless cartoon misrepresentations, misattributions, or outright frauds. As you say, shame on the gallery, which should've done due diligence.

Brian Fies said...

Ah. I just read more carefully and noticed that Greco's wife owns the gallery. There you go.

Royston Robertson said...

If that is Watterson he was having a heck of an off day!

Joakim Gunnarsson said...

They are crooks and have been selloing fake artwork on eBay for large sums. Have reported them but nothing seems to happen.
Check out my blog for some more fakes from that gallery :

Unknown said...

I returned everything I bought and got a full refund--

Very Cherry Art & Antiques said...

Nothing ever happened because they were all genuine! It doesn't take a brain scientist to realize this fact ,