May 29, 2014

ARTnews: Copy Rights

“So many people wanted Chagalls,” Stein told me. “I remember one day when I operated a gallery out of my apartment on Park Avenue I had an appointment there at one o’clock to deliver three Chagall watercolors that were not yet painted. I got up at six in the morning. The first thing I did was make some tea. I use Lipton tea; it’s the best thing to use when you want to age drawing paper. It gives it a yellowish appearance when you dip cotton in the tea and spread it over the paper.
“Then, while the paper was drying, I made the sketches. I decided on circus scenes. I was working mostly from illustrations from books. One by one, I painted them. I was finished by eleven o’clock. When one was finished, I would put it in front of a sun lamp, which dries the material and cracks it slightly. It’s like cooking.
“I rushed down to a framing place three blocks away. I told them it was urgent, and they framed the three watercolors while I waited. Everything was ready by noon. Then I ran six blocks to a place on Lexington Avenue to make photographs of the watercolors. I rushed back and made certificates of authentication. I know the writing of Chagall and I wrote: ‘I Marc Chagall, certify that this watercolor is an original.’ And I signed Chagall’s name on the back of the photograph. I was finished a few minutes before the dealer arrived. He was satisfied and gave me a check for $10,500.”


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