Are Thrift Shop’s “Dalí” Artworks Real?

September 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Posted in News | 2 Comments

6a0109811e5c13000c011016331431860c-500piWow — the New York Times is reporting on some possible Salvador Dalí artworks currently for sale in a Houston, Texas thrift shop:

“In a scene that would most likely appeal to the Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí, several works attributed to him are currently on display next to a disheveled tie rack at a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store in a seedy industrial neighborhood here. The pen-and-ink drawing, crucifix sculpture and set of six lithographs” — which are collectively titled “Le Jungle Humaine,” and including a turquoise giraffe with its mane on fire and a woman with shriveled breasts eating a bird — “are laid out in a glass case among the kind of crystal and brass tchotchkes more typically found in thrift stores. The shelves are lined with black fabric stitched with the words “I ♥ Jesus” in gold,” writes Kate Murphy in the Times.

Bids are being taken on the art, with $8,000 for each of the three lots having been reached two Fridays ago.

“The amounts have risen despite the ubiquity of Dalí fakes and the uncertain provenance of these pieces in particular.

“The works were given to the Salvation Army by an anonymous donor, and the man behind a two-year-old appraisal document — which suggests that they are worth more than $76,000 — says that he cannot be sure that they are the same pieces he evaluated and sold. Appropriately, perhaps, the answer to the question of whether the thrift-store Dalís are real Dalís turns out to be as elusive as the memory of a dream….

“’There’s nothing certain in the Dalí market,’ said Bernard Ewell, an appraiser in Santa Fe, N.M., who specializes in works by Dalí….

“Joseph Nuzzolo, president of the Salvador Dalí Society, an appraisal service and gallery in Redondo Beach, Calif., added that though ‘a lot of people want to have an original Dalí, a lot of them get burned when they buy a fake.’ So any unknown piece presented as the artist’s work calls for scrutiny, especially in a setting as unorthodox as this.

“According to the Salvation Army, the works were donated last year by a woman who is a longtime supporter of that charity’s Adult Rehabilitation Center for substance abusers in Houston. The woman does not want her name to be known, and would not speak to a reporter even on the condition of anonymity, said Juan Alanis, a Salvation Army spokesman in Houston.

“Although the pieces came with documentation from the Salvador Dalí Gallery, in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Bruce Hochman, the gallery’s director, said he would have to see them in person to say unequivocally that they are the works he signed off on back in 2007.

“’I sold them to a dealer in Texas,’ he said, declining to identify the person. That dealer, he added, subsequently sold the works to the woman who donated them to the Salvation Army, whom Mr. Hochman described as the wealthy widow of an oil magnate.

“Mr. Nuzzolo, a vocal critic and business rival of Mr. Hochman’s, said that this year the Salvation Army sent him the pen-and-ink drawing — a whimsical rendering of what looks like a spinning man, titled ‘Don Quichotte’ — to see if he could sell it, and that he determined that it was a fake.”

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