Altar Auction Of Fake Song and Qing Porcelain and Ceramics
Altair Auctions Fake Chinese Song and Qing will be sold on July 29th, 2017, complete with labels and bogus receipts. Offered by Altair Auctions!
When: July 29th, 2017
Who: Altair Auctions, ask for "Wang" if you call.
I hope this will drive home to our readers the problem of faked purchase receipts and collection stickers plaguing the Asian art market today. It's been going on now for several years but has been stepping into high gear as the copies just keep getting better.
For more information about Altair Auctions Previous Events, Read this. Phoney Stamp Auction? and Porcelain Problems?
To View the sale, you must go to Live Auctioneers, Altair has NOT put this auction on their website. (gee I wonder why?)
Have Rare Song Ceramics Suddenly Become Worthless and Common?
The short and only answer is, of course not. However after browsing through this auction, one would think collectors and or museums are dumping onto the market. You could possibly think you've fallen into a time warp, where suddenly they are available at prices the market hasn't seen this low since the 1920's and 30's. A lovely dream, only if it were true. Altair Auctions fake Chinese Song and Qing event will be just the ticket for folks who have money to burn, don't be one of them.
Famous Collectors, Buying From the Grave and Other Impossibilities
Even more amazingly, a number of the lots being presented by Altair Auctions were according to the receipts being shown as provenance were bought many years after the buyers died. Decades after in some cases. In addition, of course, are assorted labels indicating equally dubious provenances.
Legendary British-American Collector Alfred Clark wasn't shopping at John Sparks in 1963
Alfred Clark and his wife were at the forefront of collecting Chinese ceramics and art during the first half of the 20th C. . Many believed their collection to be on a par with the collection of Sir Percival David.
Mr. Clark made his fortune as one of the drivers behind the modern recording industry founding several highly successful firms after leaving the United States to work for Thomas Edson. He eventually moved to England. Part of his collection is today in the British museum, including the companion piece to the one sold at Sotheby's, which was donated in the 1930's. . In 1928 he became a naturalised British citizen and a leading figure at the Oriental Ceramics Society.
Were anything from his collection, which ceased being added to at the time of his death in 1950, to be offered on the market it wouldn't be at the Altair Auctions Fake Chinese Song and Qing sale.
Carl Johannes August Schmid-Wahlgren (1863-1944)
He also was not buying during the 1960's. Receipts with his name on them are also flooding the market, you can find them on Google Image Search. Including ones from Yamanaka Company.
The Fonthill Heirlooms Collection is not on the market either. (More on the real collection below) Like we said, Altair Auctions Fake Chinese Song and Qing porcelains!
The Fonthill Heirlooms remains one of the most facinating groups of Imperial Qing porcelain and works of art formed by a European in the 19th Century. It was originally collected by Alfred Morrison, the London-based Member of Parliament, who was an active purchaser during the last decades of the 19th Century, when Chinese and Japanese art were both culturally very much at the forefront of aesthetic tastes as pioneered by artistic taste-formers like James Whistler and Oscar Wilde, and also available in rather larger quantities than previously. The Fonthill Heirlooms became particularly well-known because Alfred Morrison was apparently able to buy a substantial quantity of Chinese art from Lord Loch of Drylaw. Before ennoblement, Lord Loch had been an aide-de-camp of Lord Elgin, British Minister Plenipotentiary in charge of the Western military campaign in China which culminated in the sacking of the Summer Palace in 1860. It appears that Mr Morrison bought, still packed in the original campaign chests, the mementoes which Lord Loch had brought back from Beijing. However, it is unclear how much of the Fonthill Heirlooms formed part of this purchase traceable directly back to the sacking, and how much was subsequently acquired by Mr Morrison from London antique dealers emerging into leading taste creators around the new antique dealing areas of Belgravia, Mayfair and Bond Street"
Below are just some of the Fake Receipts being presented with the pieces.
Note: This post is not an accusation of any criminal intent towards the auctioneer but is my personal opinion about the authenticity of the items being presented. The objects in question are not consistent in quality and content of known authentic examples. The previous owner labels and receipt accompanying numerous lots are in our opinion not authentic. Definition the term FAKE:
dave kenny says
Many of the pieces illustrated in your article can be purchased in China for prices ranging from $15 to $150. Mostly they are around $30. How many do you want. There are whole shops with hundreds of examples lined up next to each other. Yet I’ve seen pieces like this sell for prices in the $10,000-$100,000 rangeUS. It’s just so profitable that no one can resist. Many of the pieces are sold back to the Chinese, who are so naive that they don’t think the word “gullible” is in the dictionary.
Hey Dave, Glad you read our post. I’ve also seen these pieces in more than a few houses right here on the North Shore, west of Boston, in Boston and from folks around the US and EU have bought them as well. What’s amazing is, Altair has been under Federal Investigation for this kind of stuff in the past, yet they keep at it. best to you, Peter Combs.
dave kenny says
I believe it was PT Barnum who said “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Can’t say I’ve never become a victim of fraud, but my experience is that those who do these things keep doing them until they get caught. The temptation to make ill gotten gains is just too big. Unfortunately, it’s like “wack-a-mole.” They might stop one guy, but a dozen more pop up immediately to take that guy’s place. I hear, however, that the asking prices for what the Chinese call “high copy” ceramics, are rising to the point where it’s impossible to make any money. Maybe the law of supply and demand will eventually kill the market for these things.
Its a never ending battle, like the western art world!
Experts with many many years’ experiences in this area could make mistakes. While it’s helpful to prove some labels are fake, we should be cautious to judge a piece by pictures. It seems to me that we better avoid publishing and commenting on other people’s objects in public without owner’s agreement and courtesy. We could be easy to get into deep water.
Just my opinion. As an outsider I, neither their consignor nor buyer, do not have any relation with this auction house.
Not in the least bit concerned about “deep water”. These companies know full well what we post here on this site. They wouldn’t dare draw attention to what they are doing. It would result in a flood of suits demanding full refunds. Which they would get, as they’re are way to many fake pieces to satisfy an argument of a “mistake”. having been made. These aren’t even really good fakes and can be bought in China for under $30.
In this case we’ve already heard from a family spokesman from MARCHANTS in London on this. They are furious about these fake receipts, but feel powerless to take action. NONE of the items were ever sold by the company at any time to anyone. They keep meticulous records.
Just curious if you could provide some pictures of fakes under $30 so we could compare those with, for example, “FAKE Gee Brush washer Altair Auctions” you posted here. From my perspective, that piece could be a Ming cope of Song, but again, we should not judge any pieces by pictures.
TO get them for $30 you have to get them in SHanghai, the Shadow Markets have plenty of them. Here’s a link as an example on eBay for a seller in China, with examples ranging from under a hundred to $500. Including copies of Yuan blue and white type pots, that if real would be worth well into the millions each. https://www.ebay.com/sch/allem1979/m.html?item=262545658940&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2562
As for your comment: “From my perspective, that piece could be a Ming cope of Song, “..you are exactly the type of victim they are hoping for. No there isn’t a chance these are anything but modern fakes, if you can’t see the difference from the images, you need to study more. Note how few of them sold.
dave kenny says
PL Combs. I noted your indication that you could buy copies in Shanghai, but I think you have neglected the major source for these “high copy” pieces, as they are known in China. A large number of celadon, and other types of green glazed and crackle glazed ceramics are made at the Government Kilns south of Hangzhou. The vast majority of other “high copy” pieces are made in Jing De Zhen. As for the jerk asking for photos of these copy pieces (i.e. fakes) I respectfully suggest that he already knows what they look like, as this guy is no doubt a troll, purposefully trying to get your proverbial goat. And, further more, I’m am almost certain, based on the ridiculous request for photos, that this guy has already been to Jing De Zhen, where there are, perhaps, 10,000 shops selling copy porcelain, each shop having thousands of examples. This figure of 10,000 is no exaggeration, I assure you. I, myself, who lived in Jing De Zhen for four years, have personally visited many of these shops in an effort to be able to discern the difference between real and fake, as well as having been present during the “kiln openings” whereupon the results of a 3 day firing of modern copy pieces was disgorged. There are, in fact, so many high copy pieces being made each year that there would probably be enough for every man, woman, and child in China to own a dozen examples each! There is no greater “proof” that the pieces offered by unscrupulous auctioneers are new than to see them loaded into the kiln, have the kiln fired up, and then to see them emerge as finished copies three days later, and being gobbled up by the international cadre of traders who bring these products to market. I have at least 1000 photos of kiln firings, shops, fake porcelain, and even of the pieces in the Jing De Zhen Museum of modern copies of antique porcelain on my computer. If this troll would like to see them, he is welcome to make an appointment to meet with me in southern New Hampshire. BTW, the Museum of modern copies in JDZ is a fantastic building devoted to the best copy pieces that can be made. I was told that each example was chosen from among hundreds of identical copies, being the best among them. You and I know what happened to the other non-selected copies.
I can’t agree more that those auction houses, if intentionally cheating bidders, are liable to be accused ethically or even guilt legally. However, the Ebay link you provided illustrates plenty of contemporary porcelains, none of which can compare with “FAKE Gee Brush washer Altair Auctions” because they are totally different types. We can’t compare apples with oranges.
There are five famous classic wares, Ru, Guan, Ge, Jun and Ding produced during Chinese Song Dynasty (960-1279). Based on its label, the so-called “FAKE Gee Brush washer Altair Auctions” was categorized as Guan (or K’uan) ware. We need to conduct research on its form, glaze, color, clay, natural cracks, bubbles via magnifying loupe, age/usage tracking, hand touching, weight, and so on, to see if it bears all the characteristics of Southern Song period (1127-1279). Even if 1% of Song’s characteristics being denied, we should not date it as Song. Our next research should focus on later copies as there are many Yuan (1279-1368), Ming (1368-1644), or even Republic (1911-1949) copies. Meanwhile, we should refer and compare to modern fakes (1949-now). Unless we have enough evidences, we better not draw final conclusions.
We usually don’t judge a piece by pictures, by labels or by prices. A Ding bowl from a tag sale for 3 dollars fetched 2 million dollars at Sotheby’s New York in 2013. The buyer is the renowned Chinese antiques dealer Mr. Eskenazi.
Peter Combs says
These pieces have had near identical copies/ twins show up in numerous auctions around the country with the labels and fake receipts from coast to coast. They first began appearing in lots like these around 6 years ago in Washington State. Several were sold a couple years ago a Julia’s in ME during a winter sale. Complete with Spinks labels, MARCHANT, Speelman and many more. Instead of bringing vast sums they brought $5,000 to $20,000 from suckers,
In the above lots, you’re completely ignoring the fake sales receipts and stickers. Were a hoard of examples like these to turn up from the Song dynasty, it would headline news around the globe, as they would be worth in the millions each.
If you want to waste your time examining glazes and attempting to find an alternative date other than the obvious answer, go ahead. BTW, there is virtually no difference between Song and Yuan guan type bowls and are often dated as “Song-Yuan” . As for the MING examples/copies, they are so unlike the originals they are instantly recognizable. In any event, there is no need to belabor the point. As for the Republican copies, which are so few and were made of poor quality they are easily to spot, I wouldn’t waste time looking for comparisons. If you’ve bought any of these at small time auctions complete with labels, rest assured you’ve been taken advantage of.
A little common sense goes a long way when evaluating auction offerings. Not to mention this auction house’s previous run-in’s with the FBI and police regarding the sale’s of fakes.
Recently those major auction houses dated genuine Guan wares as Song to Yuan for a strategy of conservative approach for appraisal. However, publications from Beijing Palace Museums twenty years ago made a distinction and draw a clear line between Song and Yuan, based on the theory in which Guan kilns had been mostly destroyed and its production significantly declined post Mongolia invasion. There are quite a few Ming copies though, especially for brush washers that are worthy of research as in this case of “Fake Gee Washer”. Nevertheless, I certainly respect your constructive comments and opinions.
Once more, I have no relation with those on-line auction houses. As collector I have been loathing fakes with contempt for all my life. I am not an expert, but have been in this area for almost forty years and still enjoyed participating in discussions wherever they are rational and educational. The discussion of antiques is supposed to meet in a high end club or online website with mutual respect in decent atmosphere. For those who, full of outlandish assumptions and hypothesis (BTW, I have never been in Jing De Zhen in my life, and also, Song Guan wares have nothing to do with Jing De Zhen), failed to respect others, I will definitely ignore him/her and finish that type of would-be interminable argument.
dave kenny says
While it is true that “experts with many years can make mistakes,” they don’t make mistakes that often. In the case of these bogus auction houses, they are putting up 99.9% fakes, and therefore it is very hard to make a mistake by calling them out on it. Eventually, someone with deep pockets and a desire to see an end to this type of fraud will sue the pants off these people, and then they will have to start over after they get out of jail. One can hope. As far as you’re (hz) not being related to the auction house, to paraphrase W. Shakespeare, I think you are protesting too much. Nuff said?
I would love to participate if there is an educational, scholastic, and academic discussion on “FAKE Gee Brush washer Altair Auctions”.
dave kenny says
P.T. Barnum said it best: There’s a sucker born every minute. In addition I would add: If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is (i.e. too good to be true, therefore false)
dave kenny says
HZ: The fact that a ding bowl turned up in a house sale totally unrecognized for what it was has nothing to do with auction houses purposefully and deliberately trying to cheat people by saying that their fakes are genuine, and further manufacturing phony paperwork and stickers to cheat unsuspecting fools out of their money. Genuine pieces turn up all the time in out of the way places. Well, not all the time, but occassionally they do. I once bought a zitan table at a small auction for $110, and sold it at Sothebys for $20,000. The small auction wasn’t trying to fool me. It was just that no one else there had a clue as to what it was. BTW, the auction was across the street from where Peter’s old gallery used to be.
dave kenny says
HZ wrote: “The discussion of antiques is supposed to meet in a high end club or online website with mutual respect in decent atmosphere. For those who, full of outlandish assumptions and hypothesis (BTW, I have never been in Jing De Zhen in my life, and also, Song Guan wares have nothing to do with Jing De Zhen), failed to respect others, I will definitely ignore him/her and finish that type of would-be interminable argument.”
Where, exactly, is it written that discussions about antiques are supposed to meet in a high end club? I can see you were offended by my previous comments. First of all, I never said that Guan wares were made in Jingdezhen. I said that a large number of crackle glazed wares and celedons were made in the government kilns south of Hangzhou. It is also true that a large number of crackle glazed wares are made in Jingdezhen, but these have only been made there in modern times (i.e. last 15 years). Secondly, you didn’t deny that you are a troll. As for 40 years experience, what sort of experience are you talking about? For me, I have had 50 years experience viewing ceramics from all over the world, to include an amount that is too large to estimate. Certainly close to a million pieces, if not more. The fact that you do not believe me when I tell you that the pieces in the auction mentioned above were total modern fakes reminds me of an old adage: Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Have a nice day, and I hope you spend your entire wealth on fakes, and that your heirs will curse you when you die, and they find out the sad news.
J Michael Queen says
I think we should distinguish between conniving auction houses, which might purchase things here and there, bring them back and offer them at their home gallery, and conniving (or gullible) dealers, who go to China (or wherever) and buy a relatively consistent collection of material, which they represent to the auction houses back home as old family treasures. The consistency of this Altair offering (those with stickers and receipts) suggests that the auction houses were at worst naive. That we see the same sorts of things with the same labels showing up across the country and Europe suggests a “Master Importer” rather than a bunch of naive collectors, which just happen to collect the same sorts of things.
J. Michael Queen
Altair and the other Auction houses we’ve posted about are all in my opinion 100% aware of what they are doing and are just crooks. Altair has had a number of legal problems including the sales of Fakes and has been investigated by the FBI for fraud. The owner Mr. Wang feigned ignorance and called what happened basically a “mistake”. The article is linked below. Mr. Wang a Chinese national is living here on an HB1 Visa as far as I know. He should be deported.
J Michael Queen says
It still seems that there are several levels to this unfortunate development. First are some several (but not many) sources of Song copies, good enough to fool gullible collectors and dealers. They are in cahoots with a supplier of labels, who do their homework (I have handled genuine pieces from several of the dealers, from their shops) and further with folk who create the appearance of age (abrasion, yellowing, grime in cracks, etc). Second are some people who buy large numbers of the same sorts of things, with labels etc., and bring them into the US, representing them to dealers willing to suspend common sense, and to various small local auction houses, which are taken in to one degree or another, by their keen interest in getting in on an overheated Oriental art market. I am sure the consignors have a variety of more or less plausible stories as to why they had such a collection. The importers should be considered in a different (and guiltier) category than casual tourists buying a piece or two in a contemporary Chinese market. The auctions houses range from gullible to culpable, which probably correlates with the number and frequency with which fakes are presented. There are some number of sites that represent so many reproductions and fakes (and commonly of such abysmal quality) as to be almost comic. But even in these sites, some few percent of pieces have potential.
But it seems there may be another issue to consider. In the case of houses that infrequently represent repros and fakes (I would not put Altair in this group), it would seem to be a case of caveat emptor. We all have purchased undervalued and misidentified items at second rate auction houses. Some are still proudly in my collection, others proved to be mistakes. We pay our money and take our chances. If there were iron clad guarantees in these sales, we would rarely find pieces we could afford, outbid by an army of supremely confident retirees, beginning collectors little lavender haired ladies. It seems that the mid-level importers might be most effectively impeded.
Adam Levin says
To Mr Combs, Dave, Michael (and I guess hk?)
Thanks for all the wonderful information. To Dave, I live in Hangzhou and spend a lot of time visiting the kiln museum (Southern Song Kiln Museum built on the site of the Imperial Jiaotanxia Kiln) and try to learn as much as possible. I have been a collector for about 15 years (with about a 300 piece collection) and have lived in China and Hong Kong for about 20 years. I lived for many years on the famed antique area Hollywood Road in Hong Kong and used to enjoy visits to all of the dealers. I was told that the best way to get experience is to See, Feel, Touch and Hold as many authentic pieces as possible. I regularly visited as many auction previews (the best place to see and touch the real things) including Sotheby’s and Christie’s. I also spent 7 years in Shanghai visiting every imaginable dealer and shop. Some pieces in my collection I have won at auction from Sotheby’s and Christie’s (including a pair of Qianlong Famille Rose plates from the most recent Christie’s Sale of The Rockefeller Collection). Those pieces and a few other choice items I have no doubt are authentic. Many are from a noted Hong Kong Dealer who closed his shop in the 1970’s and passed away in 1989. I purchased his remaining collection from his son. A collection that was in storage for nearly 40 years so I had no worry of the most recent modern forgeries. Some pieces are genuine Song, Ming, Qing and even Tang as well as a good collection of high quality Republic pieces (not copies but original works of art).
….Well to get to the point……I have just recently been dealing with on-line auctions (That started with purchases on-line from both Sotheby’s and Christie’s) but I just recently branched out exploring other sites and auction houses. I came across Altair’s most recent auction and was quite amazed at the large number of high quality Song pieces (with provenance) offered. I was very close to purchasing about 8 pieces!!! from them before I started to do a little research. First I went back to about 12 of their past auctions and starting noticing an overabundance of Song items EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM WITH AGED STICKERS AND CLAIMS OF PROVENANCE AND THOSE PHONY RECEIPTS????? I contacted them and asked them about these irregularities but have not yet received a reply (and no doubt may never receive one or possibly some bullshit excuse by them about their purchasing many collections)
I finally decided to do a search on-line with the title Fake Auction Labels Altair” and low and behold, I thankfully was directed to your site. I think you guys have saved me a bunch of money although I had an itching feeling these guys were not on the level. I will definitely take time, Mr Combs, to read through your other great material and look forward to being a regular contributor here. Now off to get ready for a REAL auction tomorrow at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Wish me luck. I have my eye (and wallet) set on a nice affordable pair of Daoguang Bowls.
Best Regards from China