Fakes and forgeries?

There’s tons of drawings, sketches and paintings on ebay that are signed “Andy Warhol”. A search for “signed warhol drawing” gives at least 100 hits and without looking at them closely or being any kind of expert the absolute majority are offcourse fakes.

There are also tons of fake records, they say that Introducing the Beatles is the worlds most counterfeited record and that there’s probably millions of fake copies. Another example is Six Pistols 7″ God Save The Queen where there also seem to exist an endless number of fakes and counterfeits.

If you put 2 and 2 together one might think that it’s a bit surprising that you never see any, or at last very seldom, album covers that are signed “Andy Warhol”. A search on ebay today turns up zero results. The only time i’ve ever seen any on ebay is one or two signed copes of Sticky Fingers starting at ridiculous prices.

If one would really want to it’s obviously not too difficult to create extremely well made fakes so with that in mind it’s a bit strange that we don’t see more copes of The Nation’s Nightmare’s, Ultra Violet’s or Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr’s. Offcourse there’s the issue with the actual vinyl itself but these three particular covers would sell for big money even without the record.

But it appears the last idiot in Sweden, or perhaps elsewhere also for that matter, is not born yet. A few months ago swedish auction house Bukowskis put up a claimed signed copy of the single Fuego on their budget internet auction site – Bukowskis Market. Amazingly it sold for a little more than 5000kr, roughly $800-900, and this is without provenance or any other documentation, nothing besides a note from the seller. Quite amazing.

The thought to create my own “semi fake” has crossed my mind. I’ve been contemplating buying an original copy of The Velvet Underground & Nico with the banana peeled and then cut out a banana from a reissue, get some dirt on it and then place it on the original. I doubt i will ever get around to it though, although there’s nothing like the joy of fooling one’s self.

Anyway, it’s very nice to see that the scammers are keeping their hands of Warhol and his record covers, i really hope it stays that way.

Bukowskis4

Tennessee Williams – Reading From the Glass Menagerie

One of my absolute favourite covers. The drawings, the coloring and the calligraphy – simply perfection! It always puts a smile on my face and this is one of the covers which has a permanent spot on my wall. I’ve negotiated so that i’m allowed to have four put up, the other three spots i rotate and change from time to time.

Tennessee Williams – Reading From the Glass Menagerie (Caedmon – TC 1005)

I have a hard time remembering when i got this cover but i do remember that it was on ebay and that i was very happy to finally get a hold of it and to a resonable price. I also believe that it didn’t pop up one ebay back then as it does now. But looking at the statistics from popsike it appears to be a quite even flow of sales so i might be misstaken. The condition is great by my standards, a little smudging here and there but nothing that effects the general look and hardly any ring wear or other issues.

According to Richard Forrests list at Rateyourmusic and the excellent blog Warholcovers there are a number of variations of this cover. Each has some different coloring and placement of the catalogue number, my copy has this number at the bottom right corner. I’m not sure which version is considered most rare and how big the difference in price is. But again, looking at the statistics the prices vary quite a bit so it’s not unlikely that one version is more desirable than the others. When i find the time i’ll try and do a more thorough analysis and put together some graphs and statistics of all different variations seperately.

Prices in USD as usal, the one in green is in GBP, the yellow is in canadian dollars and the one in blue is in euros.

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Count Basie – S/T

This is one of my favourite covers. A clean design, mostly black and white with a splash of color, very nice! Right now i only have a reissue from Doxy Records that i picked up from ebay. According to the seller these are 500 copies made of these. I don’t know how much truth there is in this statement since i’m having quite a difficult time finding any information about the label Doxy Records. Quite potentially a sellers trick that i somewhat fell for.

Count Basie – S/T (Doxy Records – DOX854)

I’m a little undecided whether or not i’m pleased with this purshase. Though in perfect condition it still is and always will be a reissue. I’ve just recently won an aution on ebay for an original copy that looked pretty good so togehter they will make a nice set i guess. I find it hard to price many of these reissues, for example there’s a reissue of the very nice cover to Trombone by Three on ebay right now for $70-80. A resonable price? It’s probably also not the best idea from a financial point of view to buy to many of these reissues if you’re still planning on sometime picking up an original. But at least you get something to put up on the wall before that happens.

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More statistics…

Some more numbers on some of the more rare covers, once again gathered from popsike. Regarding A Program of Mexican Music there is a perhaps odd development in that it sold for high amounts before Marechal’s book was published only to drop down to more humane levels after it’s publication. The one marked in yellow is in euro, the one in red was and auction where the program brochure was included and the ones marked in green are auctions where both the blue and green verion of the cover was included.

Trombone by Three follows the same trend as many other rare covers with peaks during 2011 only to fall back somewhat in later years. It still sells for very high prices though so it’s not an album i will ever get a hold of. I find it a little strange that it had such an obvious peak during 2011 seeing that it was put up for auction quite a few times in the years before.

A Program of Mexican Music
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Trombone by Three
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The Joe Newman Octet – I’m Still Swinging

This is without a doubt my worst buy so far. I rarely see it on ebay and in a sudden case of… craziness(?) i actually must have thought that this one looked OK. Well, i really don’t know what i was thinking. But it is what it is.

The Joe Newman Octet – I’m Still Swinging (RCA Victor ‎– LPM-1198)

I haven’t seen this one on ebay much lately, and if it’s been up there i must have missed it. But hopefully it will be there soon because i badly need an upgrade. I can’t really remember when this happened but i obviously thought this was a good deal. Semi split seams, one corner completely torn off, a bit of writing, a sticker, smudgeing… There really isn’t anything positive to say about this cover. Yukk!

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John Cale – Honi Soit

First and foremost there’s a very exciting package on the kitchen table here just screaming to be opened. But that will have to wait until tonight or early tomorrow morning. But on to this cover which is one of the first i added to my collection. I not particularly fond of this cover, i’ve read that Warhol initially provided the cover in black and white and that Cale himself decided to color it. I think it would have looked much better in black and white and i also recall reading somehere that Cale regretted his desicion later on. But what are you going to do, it is what it is.

John Cale – Honi Soit (A&M Records ‎– AMLH 64849)

Like i said this was one of the first additions once i decided to start collecting these cover. It was a stupid impulse purchase from discogs if my memory serves me correct. The cover is in decent condition, some wear to an area on the front from a price sticker i guess and some jagged edges. This one definately needs an upgrade in the future, it’s not too difficult to find in good condition at a resonable price. This copy won’t sell for much though so as usual it often gets pricey when you buy cheap.

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A new copy on ebay

A few days ago another copy surfaced on ebay and once again from a swedish seller. The cover appears to be in decent condition besides from some rather large dings, folds or whatever it’s called, to two of the corners. In swedish these are called “hundöron” or “dogs ears”, i don’t know what these are called in english though. The price is at $170 with three days left, it will be interesting to see what the closing bid is.

As usual i contacted the seller to enquire a little bit about the record, where and how he found it and so on. All i recieved was a short reply that it was from his “private collection”. So he obviously wan’t interested in giving me any detailed backstory.

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George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue / Grand Canyon Suite

Not one of my favourite cover but it is however a cover that i’ve been chasing after for quite some time. I finally got a hold of not to long ago on ebay for a fair price. It’s still one of the most expensive covers i’ve bought though, depending on how you look at it…

George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue / Grand Canyon Suite (RCA Victor ‎– LBC-1045)

I found this on discogs a couple of years ago for what seemed like a bargain. I threw myself at Paypal to quickly close the deal and i remember thinking how lucky i was that no one had snatched it before me. When i opened the package a week or so later i understood why. It was a totally different version with a completely different cover. I didn’t even bother to return it or ask the seller why he put this for sale linked to the version with the Warhol cover. I just marched straight to the garbage bin and put it where it belonged. With poor due diligence you really can’t blame anyone but yourself.

Then came my second attempt. About a year ago i got it from ebay, again at a very fair price. The seller promised to ship it straight away but days turned to weeks that turned to months and nothing happened. I got plenty of explanations to why this happened though, the record was lost, then found. She broke up with her boyfriend and the record was at his place and so and so… She had nothing but positive feedback so i still thought that it would actually arrive one day. Then she suddenly stopped replying to my emails. I then tried to revoke the deal via ebay but by then enough time had passed since the auction ended so this wasn’t possible anymore. I then tried to do the same thing via Paypal, somehow i got a case registered and then contacted the seller and told her what was going on. I then got a quick reply saying that the record would be shipped the same day.

Unfortunately it didn’t end there. At some point during all this i had changed my shipping adress to a distant relative in Washington D.C. to be able to bid on an item where the seller refused to ship outside the US. And then i had forgotten to change the shipping adress back to my “real” one. So, if the seller actually shipped the record she did so with my name on it to relatives adress. I tried to contact her and tell her that i would pay for the extra shipping if she could somehow get the package returned to sender but i never heard from her again. I got an email from FedEx about a package they couldn’t deliver and tried to contact them but nothing came of that either.

Anyway, third time’s a charm, isn’t that what they say? So i finally got a hold of it (again) on ebay. The condition isn’t great, or by my measurements it is. There is a teeny tiny yellow sticker on the front cover, i’m guess it’s some kind of sticker to mark the price. And there’s the sliiiiiiightest of ring wear on the front cover and some general age related discoloring to the back. Nothing major really.

But then there’s the seams, and that’s a whole other story. It barely stays in one piece at the moment. I’m planning on glueing them back together but i haven’t found the time yet. Split seams generally don’t bother me too much and this copy is good enough, at least for me.

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Trends and statistics

It is, offcourse, a bit annoying that i started my collection as late as i did. I guess the only real chance you have to make a bargain is at the few remaining records stores or at big record fairs. Unfortunately i don’t have the time to run around scouting these stores several times a week so i’m pretty much forced to use ebay and other similar and well known sites. They chance to make a real bargain here is if not non-existant at least very slim. Even though ebay is extremely convenient it’s still sad in a way that the hunt and quest for that rare find is just a few clicks away. But i guess it’s just to go with the flow. If nothing else it’s positive that you can easily get the basis of a collection quick and easy without it costing you a fortune.

I already know that there are more than a couple of covers that i most likely will never get a hold of. I did however get curious about the market for these and how the prices are moving. When should you have gotten on the wagon in order to have had a shot at adding some real gems to your collection?

Popsike is a fun site that keeps a database on all records sold online for more than $25. Most of these are sold on ebay offcourse but i think it logs other sites and sales also.

I’ve put together a few graphs showing the price development for some fo the most rare covers. The data for almost all of them, with perhaps the exception of Cool Gabriels, is not enough to come to any major conclusions but it does however appear that the trends at least are not negative for me personally. But it’s still going to cost me a small fortune if i would decide to try and get them all. And offcourse i should have started collecting many, many years ago.

One might guess that most of these rare and somewhat unknown covers would have had the peak sometime after Paul Marechal’s book was published in 2008. But that’s not really the case, for example Cool gabriels, The Nation’s Nightmare and Latin Rhythms by the Boston Pops all have their peaks during 2011. Albeit there’s not a huge amount of logged auctions in the years 2008-2011 i still find it strange that there’s such an obvious peak during 2011. What happened during 2011? Or maybe it’s just that it took a few years for everyone to catch on.

Mendelssohn is the one that really stands out. From it’s discovery up until today it’s been a massive race to the bottom. Today i might actually have a shot at finding an affordable copy. I missed to good oportunities not to long ago. If this development is due to more and more copies turning up or if it’s due to hesitation and doubts about the authenticity i’m not sure of. The most stable covers are probably The Nation’s Nightmare and Ratfab with both consistently selling for high and even prices.

These graphs aren’t any aboslute truth though since i haven’t made condition a factor, but they should give anyone interested a general idea about the current market. I’m hoping to add the condition factor later on though when i find the time. All prices are i USD except a few marked in yellow which were sold in euros. I’m also planning to add more statistics like this as we go along… Oh, and just click the images to get “the bigger picture”.

Ratfab
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Latin Rhythms by the Boston Pops
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The Nation’s Nightmare
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Piano Music of Mendelssohn and Liszt
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Cool Gabriels
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