Herman Darvick, where autographs are born!
by Stephen Koschal
“Through the years, I have examined well over 100 items with a signature of Marc Chagall either sold or authenticated by Herman Darvick. I have yet to find one that I would consider having a genuine signature of Marc Chagall.” Stephen Koschal, Master Autograph Authenticator
HOW TO AVOID BUYING FAKE PRINTS ON EBAY AND ELSEWHERE: A CONCISE GUIDE (FOCUSES ON PABLO PICASSO, SALVADOR DALI, JOAN MIRO, ANDY WARHOL, JASPER JOHNS, DAVID HOCKNEY, HENRI MATISSE, GEORGES BRAQUE, AND MARC CHAGALL
Bookshop: William Cole ,Publisher: New York, 2007 Cole states:
“selection of reproductions, and doesn't let you know which is which (although their distinction between "hand-signed" and "hand-signed with a guaranteed signature" is interesting). And of course, any work of art with a certificate of authenticity from Herman Darvick or Daniel Hersh is pretty much guaranteed to be fake.”
The International Autograph Community is well aware of two major autograph forgers of the 20th century. One is Herman Darvick,admittedforger of autographs and ex-President of the Universal Autograph Collectors Club. He was expelled from the club for major ethics violations. The other is Mark W. Hofmann, autograph forger who was charged with two bombing murders. A separate story on Hofmann will be published later.
Since the day Darvick finally admitted he forged autograph, some of the items he has sold or authenticated have come under scrutiny. Major high end questionable items he has sold, such as the extremely rare signatures of Joe Jackson have been settled elsewhere in the watch dog web site.w.haulsofshame.com
One of the most prolific items found to be handled by Darvick through a few decades are prints mostly ripped out of books signed by Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali. This story will deal with Marc Chagall. As with any autograph one will find variances. What originally caught our attention was the high volume of prints that were being offered in the New York, Connecticut area signed by a handful of well known major artists. These prints were being sold at very low prices. Prices were so low that many collectors were buying them in multiples. One dealer in the same area was offering Marc Chagall signed prints in lots of one hundred. Red flags went up and shortly thereafter as many of these signed prints were being authenticated by Herman Darvick. Decades later and up to today, you will find these Chagall prints being offered on eBay.
It is my opinion, the signatures on these prints are signed by the same person. However, they are not by the hand of the artist Marc Chagall.
The following is a quote from Charles Hamilton’s fine bookÂ Collecting Autographs and Manuscripts. “Forgeries of Dali, Chagall and Miro on inexpensive, colored reproduction of their work are so plentiful that one may view them daily in the windows of Madison Avenue art galleries.” I took a walk with Hamilton and showed him these forgeries as well as ones being sold in Times Square. Days before, I took the same walk with my friend Salvador Dali. He was furious that some of his forged signatures were not even on his works but on similar looking items. Some of the prints he though may have been by students imitating his works. Hamilton continues: “Tens of thousands of Chagall fakes are on the market, often sold by the dozens at auction. The wise collector will abstain from buying Dali or Chagall prints without first consulting an expert.”
Hamilton lists two genuine signatures of Marc Chagall in one of his books. Another genuine signature in a different one of his books. I agree with him that the three illustrations are genuine. See signatures below:
Genuine Signatures of Marc Chagall
For research purposes, I have included 5 more Marc Chagall signatures that I believe are genuine.
Hamilton continues with just some of the reasons of how to detect a fake from a genuine signature of Marc Chagall. I have added a few comments.
1) In genuine signatures of Marc Chagall, the second peak of the capital M is often lower than the first.
2) In most of the secondÂ aÂ in Chagall, the end of the a usually has a vertical stroke that sticks up above the rest of the letter.
3) In almost all cases the second l in Chagall is lower than the one before it.
4) In most cases on prints Chagall chooses to sign his name on one line. The exception usually is in signed books.
Illustrated below are pages from two books signed by Marc Chagall. In books it appears Chagall prefers to sign his signature on two lines. Notice how these genuine signatures still fit the pattern of genuine signatures of Chagall illustrated above.
The following illustration is what Charles Hamilton states is a forgery of Marc Chagall’s signature. I totally agree with him.
Notice on the forgery above, the second peak of the capital M is above the first peak. The second l in Chagall is above the first. There are other differences in a genuine verses a forged signature of Chagall but this alone is enough to follow forged signatures that Herman Darvick is flooding the hobby.
The following illustrations are just a few of those Chagall prints authenticated by Herman Darvick
The seller forgot to mention the fact that Herman Davick was expelled from the Universal Autograph Collectors Club for very serious ethics violations.
Interesting in the above illustration the seller admits his item comes with a COA from Herman Darvick but steers clear of his decision by stating; “The COA is the professional opinion of the issuer only.” Seems like the seller knows there is a problem with this item but is still asking $850.00 for it.
In the above apocryphal signature authenticated as genuine by Darvick, the forger at least signed the signature on one line. An exception most likely because of the lack of room. The tops of both lines of the M are equal. The first a in Chagall looks like the forger may have sneezed while signing. The second a has no high peak at the top end andthesecond l in Chagall is higher thanthe first l. Poor job Mr. Forger.
Back to the usual signature of Chagall on two lines which is the most common form of the Darvick authentications. The top of the second line of the M is slightly higher than the first line of the M. The second a in Chagall has no extension at the end of the a and the second l is much higher than the first l. A MAJOR pattern is beginning to form with regard to genuine signatures of Marc Chagall verses all those sold and or authenticated by Herman Darvick.
The following is just one more sad example of a forgery of Marc Chagall’s signature authenticated by Herman Darvick
As usual all the forgeries of Marc Chagall’s signature illustrated thus far, in my opinion, are signed by the same hand and all authenticated by Darvick. Above, by now you have determined the second line of the capital M ishigher that the top of the first line of the M. The second a in Chagall does not have the lift at the top end of the a. The second l in Chagall takes off and is much above the first l.
Without looking above, take a look at the illustration below. From what you have absorbed from this story can you tell if the signature of Marc Chagall is genuine or a Herman Darvick style.CORRECT ANSWER BELOW*
One thing is for sure, Herman Darvick is incapable of authenticating signatures of Marc Chagall. If the signatures illustrated in this article are not by the hand of Marc Chagall, then who signed them? These were all handled by Herman Darvick! There are possibly hundreds or more of similar signed prints that have been sold and authenticated by Herman Darvick.
Darvick needs to answer the following questions:
1) Did the illustrations come to you one at a time through the years or at times did they come to you in bulk?
2) Did most of the prints come to you from a single source?
3) If they came to you from different sources how can you explain the signatures of Marc Chagall are all by the same hand? All with the same mistakes? All on prints ripped from books?
4) You claim you are an autograph authenticator, with the knowledge of Chagall’s autograph in print in different publications that are easily accessible, what made you believe all the signatures you have authenticated of Chagall, are in your opinion, genuine?