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Hello, Dali?

Well, hello, Dali
It's so nice to have you here where you belong
You're lookin' swell, Dali
I can tell, Dali
You're still glowin', you're still crowin', you're still goin' strong!

Well, sorta....

As you know if you've been paying attention, I've been somewhat distracted by the goings-on in my real life, like examining antiques, and going to major exhibitions and buying and selling beautiful artworks and occasionally tossing some (usually really good) food at the members of my family. So I've not been paying as much attention to what's going on in the real world outside as I would like to.  Usually I know who's selling what and for how much, and who's complaining about who else did what (which I usually ignore).

Here's something I think I'd better take time to mention, though.  Occasionally there's a serious scam that people need to be made aware of - you know - like, you won't really become the beneficiary of a 30,000,000 pound legacy in a foreign bank account from someone who doesn't even know your name...but you knew that, right?

Hommage à Newton

This present issue is not a scam, exactly, it's more like dubious Dali dealings. In fact, it's likely all perfectly legal.  Here's what's happening: the Salvador Dali Institute, in Spain, is apparently calling for an investigation into the production and selling of....scores...? hundreds...? of bronze sculptures, based on other Dali works, and issued under Dali's name.  Here's the thing:  the licenses to Dali's name may well have been legitimately bought, 'limited editions' may be legitimately issued, and as long as items are correctly identified, or at least, not deliberately mis-identified, the producer is in the clear.

Think of it like the Royal Doulton and other originally English products now being manufactured in the tens of thousands in Asia and Indonesia.  Or 'limited editions' of 300,000 (okay, I exaggerate, but you get my drift). A true 'limited edition' means a run in which very few items are made, so, theoretically, if it's a desirable subject from a great artist and there are only a few of them, this is going to increase in value.  Or so a collector hopes.  But serious collectors won't buy kitschy objects made by the thousand in a foreign sweatshop, which is why the market value of ordinary RD has plummeted.

The Guardian (UK) online quotes Joan Manuel Sevillano of the Gala Dali Foundation in Madrid as saying: "There is a grey area around Dalí sculptures. A lot of material Dalí authorised through licensing, or contracts, were based on drawings by him – but often were not created by him." Further, "You look at a sculpture and you don't know what you are seeing – is it one out of 10, or 300 in three different patinas, so it's 900? And did Dalí make it or not, or is it made by a third person with Dalí's permission or not?"... "These are commercial sculptures, made for decorative purposes."

He's quite right, of course; legitimate it may be, but you couldn't call this Fine Art.  And the real problem is that some people are laying out beaucoup de bucks for these reproductions.  And I mean 'beaucoup de'; we're talking about millions for sculptures that cost around $1,000 to manufacture in a local foundry. Now, for the record, I've got absolutely no problem with the buying and selling of reproductions as long as they're identified as such, and in my view, the price should reflect this.

Makes you feel better about buying a cheap piece of Doulton for more than it's worth, huh?


sazamom said...


Annie said...

Aleta, Have you heard whether there will be an inquiry into this?

I suppose one could say "Well, buyer beware"...but it sounds quite nefarious to me.

I'm just glad I couldn't afford one of "Dali's" pieces anyway!

that's life! said...

Hi Sazamom - thanks for commenting - I did thank you before, but it obviously didn't 'take'.

that's life! said...

Annie, I'm sure the Dali Institute would agree with you!

I haven't heard any follow up on this, but I'll keep you posted.

I'm very keen to see the legal arguments, both ways.

Amanda Ford said...

Hello Annie am your BLOGFROG friend. You have great blog. I live this post. Very intersting! Thanks for share with us.

that's life! said...

Hi there Amanda. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated!

Teresa Wilkinson 1984 said...

Hello Aleta I know flooding a market with reproductions can hurt a product.if the reproduced is not ethical and is on another country how cap Rapid have legal grounds in another country? I always thought once you cross international bounds it iq fair game.

that's life! said...

Hi Teresa,

I replied to you ages ago, honest I did, but I don't see my reply now.

International law is complicated, it depends on countries' relationships and of course you always have outlaw countries that disregard agreements, but it's far from a free-for-all.

Here're some examples: you're still married if you go to another country. You are still held to eBay and Paypal's rules even though you may purchase or sell internationally. You can't kill someone in the US and flee to Australia (not and live openly, at any rate) - that sort of thing.

I will be following avidly if anything comes of this, the legal arguments will be so interesting!