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How to Spot a Fake: Paintings

Monday, 11 Mar 2013 | 8:35 PM ET
How to Spot a Fake: Paintings
Monday, 11 Mar 2013 | 12:00 AM ET
Forged versions of famous paintings can make it past the experts and sell for millions. Treasure Detective's Curtis Dowling shows a few ways to check that a painting is the real thing.

Some fake paintings have been so convincing, they've made it all the way into auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses.

A lot of the fakes and forgeries today — Warhols, Da Vincis and more — are made in China. In this clip from the CNBC reality series "Treasure Detectives," art detective Curtis Dowling, says that famous artworks are copied by the thousands in places like Shenzen.

In an age of perfect digital reproductions that can be doctored to look like valuable original paintings, there are a few factors buyers can consider to determine a painting's authenticity.

First, Dowling says, potential buyers need to know the artist and their body of work. Look at the signature and the frame to see if anything is off. Look at the colors in the painting – not all paint colors were available in the past. That's why savvy buyers will bring a color chart to see if they spot a color that wasn't possible in the era the painting was made.

But don't just look at the front. Flip that painting over. What surface is it painted on, and how does it sit on that? How does it feel and does it look aged enough? Considering these aspects are a few ways to avoid paying too much for a copycat.

Check out the clip and see if you can learn how to spot a fake.

(Read More: Slideshow: Fakes and Forgeries That Fooled the Experts)

Tune in to "Treasure Detectives" on CNBC Prime, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET

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  • Do you have an item that you want the Treasure Detectives to investigate? Contact us at TreasureDetectivesTV@gmail.com

Meet the Team

  • Curtis has over 20 years' experience in fine arts and antiques and he hates fakes! He is on a mission to help people discover the truth and put the fakers and forgers out of business.

  • Catherine Knebel is Curtis Dowling's research assistant and a treasure detective with an auctioneer's background.

  • Andy is the treasure detective with people skills. People like Andy and he can get them to talk and give him valuable information.