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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Arrest of a Chihuly Trafficker

Posted by on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 10:27 AM

This morning, a 35-year-old man in Renton—Michael Little—was picked up for trafficking on eBay in fake Chihuly paintings and glass pieces, according to a DOJ announcement just now. He'll have his first appearance in court today at 1:30, and he could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

If the accusations are true, I wonder: Were they good forgeries? Chihuly has expert glassblowers fabricating his pieces, and he employs at least one man who specializes in making his splattery paintings. Who made these forgeries? Little himself? Or was he just the trafficker?

From the DOJ:

MICHAEL LITTLE was arrested this morning following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). ...

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, in 2011 and 2012, LITTLE offered for sale or sold various pieces of glass art and paintings that he represented were the work of Dale Chihuly. LITTLE marketed the works via eBay. The artworks bore a signature that appeared to be Chihuly’s and LITTLE provided paperwork that he said authenticated the pieces as the work of Dale Chihuly. However, an expert in Chihuly’s work examined the pieces at the request of the purchaser and determined they were fakes. The papers that were supposed to authenticate the works were also allegedly forged.

 

Comments (16) RSS

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sperifera 1
Dale Chihuly is the Thomas Kincaide of glass art.
Posted by sperifera on April 25, 2013 at 10:39 AM · Report this
camlux 2
The only difference between Little's art and Chihuly's is the salary paid to the latter.
Posted by camlux on April 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM · Report this
Sean Kinney 3
This is instructive. The bong on the top shelf that you've been eyeballing may indeed be a fake.

Pro tip: wait before you buy. Let the authorities sort things out.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on April 25, 2013 at 10:51 AM · Report this
Eastpike 4
much of the castoffs and seconds from production at his facility ends up first in dumpsters, then in the hands of many Seattlites, who often give them as gifts. I've seen dozens of these. Owning one of these "Chihulys" is nbd, but selling it as a true Chihuly is, as we can see here, a crime. Dale himself does not make the art, as is at this point common knowledge.
Posted by Eastpike on April 25, 2013 at 10:52 AM · Report this
SPG 5
Shouldn't they be arresting Dale Chihuly for selling pieces claimed to be genuine Chihuly?
Posted by SPG on April 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM · Report this
SPG 6
Can we create a new definition for "Chihuly" like Dan Savage did for Santorum?
I suggest this: Chihuly, noun, abandoned fecal matter. "I wish dog owners would pick up after their pets and not leave Chihuly on the sidewalk."
Posted by SPG on April 25, 2013 at 11:04 AM · Report this
COMTE 7
Since Chihuly doesn't make any of his "work" himself, how can anyone really be certain these pieces, also not made by Chihuly, are somehow less "authentic"?

/Sarcasm, just in case...
Posted by COMTE on April 25, 2013 at 11:44 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 8
@6 "Expensive, content-free, decorative baubles."

Art, or ornamentation?
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on April 25, 2013 at 11:47 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 9
What @7 and everyone else said.

I get my glass art from the local artists themselves, or from an island off Venice.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 25, 2013 at 11:52 AM · Report this
Jubilation T. Cornball 10
@1 - If only. That would mean Chihuly was dead.
Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball on April 25, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
11
The history of art is littered with work by masters made by apprentices or others in “the studio of” ... often the master would only paint the faces ... additionally poke around and look at the work of Murakami and you’ll find something similar going on with some of his work ..
Posted by olive oyl on April 25, 2013 at 2:00 PM · Report this
COMTE 12
@11:

Which just makes the modern-day practice of this even more infuriating. At least back in Da Vinci's or Rembrandt's time, it would have been very difficult for anyone to ascertain the difference between a work created solely by the master versus one largely created by a protege, today people like Chihuly (who, granted, is certainly not alone in this regard among contemporary artists) seem to go out of their way to advertise the fact that THEIR so-called work is basically mass-produced by minions.
Posted by COMTE on April 25, 2013 at 3:58 PM · Report this
13
Such haters... Its his genius that inspires the art. I love when no talent people lash out at the last remaining creative geniuses this homogenized world has to offer....
Posted by Holden on April 25, 2013 at 7:25 PM · Report this
14
Glassblowing, particularly on a large scale, requires a team of artists. A single individual can't make complex or large works in glass by themselves. A good analogy for Chihuly is that he's more like an architect or a conductor, and the gaffers (glassblowers) that he hires are his builders or his orchestra. The design, color, and aesthetic are what make it his artwork.
Posted by glass artist on April 26, 2013 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Jubilation T. Cornball 15
#14 - Glassblowing, particularly on a large ego-driven scale, requires a team of minions. A single craven megalomaniac can't make complex or large works in glass by themselves. A good analogy for Chihuly is that he's more like a Barnum or a charlatan, and the gaffers (glassblowers) that he hires are his plebes or his acolytes. The pedestrian, self-parodying design, color, and aesthetic are what make it his artwork.
Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball on April 26, 2013 at 8:28 PM · Report this
16
The fact is that the history of glass is that a designer designed the work and a team of glass blowers fabricated the work. Tiffany never blew glass nor were the works of other glass artists blown or fabricated by that artist up to 1962. What I find disturbing when it comes to Chihuly is that so many "critics" cannot separate his methods of marketing, cult of personality if you will, from the work itself. It's one thing to criticize his marketing methods but the works have to stand on their own separate from whatever you think about the man.
Posted by armchaircritic on May 2, 2013 at 4:53 AM · Report this

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