Soon after Philip Mould began as a professional art dealer in 1988, 22 years back, the buying, selling, and collecting of high-end “priceless” artwork was limited only to a small group of well-versed and elite art historians who roamed the entire planet to look for masterpieces.
But after human “discovered” various technologies the timeless world of arts has changed. Before, limited to examining 15 to 20 works per day, now Mould and his team can appraise the value of between 50 and 100 art pieces per day.
Truly the innovations changed a lot of things. “There are more possibilities, more discoveries, but there is also more competition. There is a new generation that likes the adrenaline rush and buys indiscriminately,” Mould said.
The book “The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds and Finds, and the Search for Lost Treasures” Mould’s latest offering, explores the shadowy world of art dealing and restoration but now widely accessible.
“Knowledge is more democratized now,” he said.
Before, Mould is using low-quality photographs in appraising a work of art being offered by a seller. Now, because of the latest and state-of-the-art cameras, he is able to meticulously examine all inch of a painting through the utilization of modern digital imagery.
“Photography has transformed the art world,” he said.
“The Art Detective” is containing handful suspenseful stories and editors experience of mislabeled paintings being unmasked: Mr. Mould’s ultraviolet lamp revealed “conspicuously fluorescing dabs and flecks” of recent paint on a 1560s portrait of Elizabeth I, and he traveled in Bahamas archive just to prove that Winslow Homer painted an 1880s tropical scene found a century later in an Irish garbage dump.
Philip Mould specialized in British portraiture, also served as presenter for the television series Antiques Roadshow, in which appraisers judge the value of antiques purchased throughout Britain. The show has been aired in different countries, which includes US, Canada, Australia and Germany.
Mould cited that he is deeply drawn to the art itself and to the excitement of the chase.
“The most exciting moment is when the painting is taken out to be improved and restored,” Mould said. “It’s the artistic equivalent of open-heart surgery. Sometimes I can’t even watch. Emotions are extreme, especially when you’ve paid for it yourself.”
Mould is so proficient in utilizing his well-developed expertise to expose fraud. According to the British police, almost 50 percent of the art sold on eBay, for example, is fraudulent.
“There are more fakes now. A lot of fakes come from China, for example. But one can never recreate the effects of time. Even the smell is important,” he said. “It’s very exciting. Old-fashioned connoisseurship is greatly assisted by modern science.”