The Art Newspaper reports that the estate of Brazil’s most expensive artist, Lygia Clark, has stopped their authentication activities because of legal proceedings.

Clark, who was born in 1920 and died in Rio de Janeiro in 1988, is known for being a founding member of the Neo-Concrete movement in the late 1950s. Her legacy is looked after by her two sons and their grandchildren. The foundation is called ‘The World of Lygia Clark’, whose objectives, it says on its website, is to promote her life and work, as well as researching, certifying and authenticating her work.

As with the work of many foundations and artist’s estates, the process of authentication is not straightforward. According to The Art Newspaper Clark did not always sign her work; she did not make all of it herself; and did not always fulfill the full quota of the editioned work. Faked works had been encountered in the past.

The procedure, which was offered free, according to the organisation’s website, “is done with the evaluation of documents submitted by the owner about the origin, history of buying the work, technical reports, data from the work and the owner.

The analysis of the certification process is based on the documents of property of the works, written by the Artist herself. If the work is not identified in these lists, the owner is asked to send the work to a qualified professional who will make accurate chemical tests and the identification of old materials.”

This service has been suspended, however, because one of the brothers, Eduardo, has filed a court order to seize works that he claims the other brother, Alvaro, had taken possession of.

The foundation has come under criticism for been too controlled when it comes to granting copyright for images and for the lengthy authentication process. In the past owners have refused to send works to the foundation out of a fear that they would be destroyed if not up to their standards.

In recent years several prominent artist estates have ceased their authentication activities because of legal issues. These include the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in 1996; the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and Andy Warhol Foundation in 2011; and the Keith Haring Foundation and the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat in 2012.

In each of these cases the foundations have cited the money and time spent defending themselves successfully against disgruntled collectors with work that they have rejected as the main reasons for ceasing authentication activities.

However, the case of  the World of Lygia Clark differs because it is an internal dispute. They have emphasised that in all other activities the organisation is operating as normal.This includes the preparation of a catalogue raisonne, which should facilitate authentication procedures in the future.

For further reading on issues of attribution and authentication read Apollo Magazine’s Inquiry: art law and attribution. For more information on Lygia Clark, click here.