Wednesday, July 2, 2014



I found your information on the internet. My husband and I have two Harold Newton paintings that my husband inherited from his grandmother. We have had them for several years and now are looking to sell them. I am writing you for advice on what they might be worth and how to go about finding a buyer.

I've uploaded some photos. The sizes are approximately 23x35 and 23x31.


Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Hi, *anonymous*.

I can take care of evaluating them and also finding a buyer for you.

I've been searching for and finding buyers for these things since 1995, so I can guarantee success.

First thing you need to know is how much they are worth in today's market.It takes special knowledge as H Newtons are currently valued between $500.00 and $10,000.00.

I can issue certificates of authenticity and appraisal for my standard fee of $100.00. An example can be found on the buy-sell-trade website below.

The value I place on the certs is a high one, a "replacement cost" for insurance purposes. Since I buy as well as appraise, in addition I will give you a rundown of the following values.
Insurance value.
Fair retail asking price.
Fair retail acceptable price for offers. (All buyers ask for "the best price")
Fair wholesale, or what you could expect at public auction such as eBay.
My "return to you" price if I sell them FOR you on consignment.
My outright "write a check and be done" buy price.

My goal is always to be accurate enough to insure a quick sale. Many galleries and auction houses appraise them ridiculously high, and they don't sell quickly.

Again, the fee  for a certificate is $100.00 by check or $105.00 via Paypal for each.

I do most of my certificates (I've done hundreds) via images such as you've sent.
If we need to meet in person, I live near Tampa, but I will be in West Palm Beach the first weekend of every month, 12 months a year.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Newton and Hair forgeries
"Art forgery is the creating and selling of works of art which are falsely credited to other, usually more famous, artists. Art forgery can be extremely lucrative, but modern dating and analysis techniques have made the identification of forged artwork much simpler."

Well, here we go with some serious forgeries of four Harold Newtons, and an Alfred Hair, offered on I'd be very careful with a couple of the Backuses, as well, but I won't bury them. I'll let the market be the judge of those. I'm sure one or two are legit. That's the thing about this auction. There are some genuine Newtons, Hairs offered and mixed in with the phonies.
Now, this is a so-called seemingly reputable auction house in our state capital, doing business as Manor Auctions. They enjoy an enormous google presence and purport themselves to be expert in highwaymen art. Here is undeniable proof that they are not experts. ANYONE can claim expertise. ANYONE.
The run of fakes begin on page 7 of their catalog with this listing:
 Lot # 44123: Harold Newton Florida Highwaymen Seascape
Harold Newton Florida Highwaymen Seascape...

10:00 AM PT
Jun 2

0 Bids
Here is a link to their catalog. It is my hope that these fakes are removed before the sale date in the beginning of June.
I'm posting four Harold Newton forgeries and one Hair. Do not bid on these. There is flat out no doubt that these are misrepresented.
OK, I wrote this on Friday, but didn't post it.
Now it's Saturday and they have all disappeared from the listing, including ALL the Backuses. Apparently Manor Auction is reputable and has integrity.
Their claim of expertise, however, is questionable at best.

Here are the images. The first four are forged H Newton. The last one is forged A Hair.
If you find these paintings in your travels, BEWARE.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

And so the March show came.....

Just a quick follow up to the last post, the 30 something guy never came back.

A high end maritime art dealer and auctioneer came by, checked out the Selby, whipped out his cell phone, called a customer, got a positive response, and bought the piece for a small discount from the 1500 asking price.

I'd have to say that that is a happy ending.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

West Palm Beach Antique Festival

So this guy, 30 something, comes in my booth at the December show and wants a price on a Nautical painting that I have in inventory. Nice size, 14x24, and in perfect condition, dated 1954.

It's not by a highwayman, but by another African-American artist from Miami, locally famous, by the name of Joe Selby (1893-1960), a listed artist whose subjects were the ships and yachts that docked at the Miami city pier between 1921 and 1959.
I give the guy full disclosure, as I will often do, tell him I paid a grand for it and I'm asking $1500.00.
Selby has auction records for similar things from $950 to $3500. I have printed them out to show potential customers as proof if they don't know me. So, I think it's reasonable for me to price it at that level, all the while expecting some sort of counter-offer.

Well, it's way too much for this guy, so he passed on any further meaningful conversation. He studied it for 10 minutes, though, and left only to come back to the booth to gaze longingly at it another 3 or 4 times during that show.

Then he comes back for the January show. He's decided, at this point, to get his tongue wagging, and decided to teach me all about the Selby market.

He really likes it, wants it, but he "informs" me that Selby's work from the 50's are worth no more than, say 4 or 500. He thinks I'd be smart to "cut my losses" and let him buy it.

Naturally, knowing better, I tune that out and tell him I'm still asking 1500, but that price is not carved in stone. But I'm not going to take a loss on a recent purchase, especially when I'm comfortable with the pricing structure.

So, his next idea is to offer a trade.

Now, I LOVE trades, and consider them, from my point of view, the opportunity to make a profit twice. Once on the outgoing inventory (in theory, anyway) and again on whatever I get in trade when I sell the new piece.

So I answer, "Sure. What do you have in mind?"

He's got a 24x36 Sam Newton painting on upson. Naturally, it's wonderful, etc, and his wife will kill him if he lets it go, all that sort of posturing nonsense to make it sound very desirable.

I tell him, "I think we can make some kind of deal, I just have to inspect it". He agrees with that, and off he goes.

Now it's the February show, he shows up and says he's got it in his car, so I tell him to bring it in, which he does. It's in a nice big box and I'm hoping it's one of the gorgeous ones. I have probably bought and sold 400 to 500 of Sam's paintings since 1995, so I'm ready for anything. It could be worth 300 or 3000. I can't wait for him to get it out of the box.

Out it comes, and it looks just like this, only stretched out to 36 inches:

A scene repeated many times by all three Newton brothers (and all the rest of the highwaymen) in every imaginable size. It's pretty, yes, but most collectors already have one, a blue river moonlight with a couple of cabbage palms and some rudimentary dock remnants, there are so many of them, and its value is close to entry level for a decent Sam in perfect condition. If I owned it, it would be for sale at about 750, or half of my Selby asking price. This determination at first glance.

Then I pick it up, angle it in the light, and I see evidence of scrapes, paint loss, and clumsy attempts at cleaning dirt off.  Now, I'm thinking, "condition issues, sell at 500 max" if I had it.

Then I check the signature. It's a genuine scratch-in, done in the 60's or 70's in wet paint, and it clearly reads, "L, Newton".

Wait.....what? "You told me you were bringing a SAM Newton. This is clearly signed by Lemuel."

He ignores that completely and tells me it's actually by HAROLD Newton, and that he signed some of his paintings with an L instead of an H.

I told him that that was preposterous and proceeded to shamelessly state my qualifications for knowledge in the highwaymen market, and specifically my expertise regarding the Newton brothers and their work.

Now this is a guy, who I suspect has seen, besides the 8 Sams, 4 Harolds, and the one lonely Lemuel I have available in my booth at the time, maybe a couple of dozen highwaymen paintings.

He elaborates that "a couple of respected knowledgeable highwaymen dealers have told him that H signed some paintings L".

Of course, I know that can't be true unless these guys are "THOSE KINDS OF DEALERS" who are smart enough to know that Harold's work is the most valuable of the three brothers (and the rest of the group as well) and just happen to have a Lemuel or two for sale while they're spinning their yarn.

So, I think he just made that story up to cover his first lie, or maybe his mistake, that he was bringing a Sam to try and trade.

Rather than call him a liar, which would be counter productive to any possible business, I simply told him that  "those" dealers either were misinformed, certainly not knowledgeable or flat out lying to him.

However, since I felt disrespected that he didn't believe me, but insisted that they were experts, and he believed them, I decided to risk being disrespectful back at him by saying, "Well, those guys are FULL OF SHIT".

Now, Jim Fitch told me almost a decade ago, when I sent him a draft of my first article to be published in Antiques and Art Around Florida, and asked him his thoughts, "Profanity is never acceptable".

In this case, I respectfully disagree.

The next West Palm Beach Antique show is in a couple of weeks. I can't wait to see if this clown shows up, once again to lovingly gaze at the painting he so badly wants.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mary Ann Carroll appraisal

Typical request:

Just recently I have found three paintings by Mary Ann Carroll. According to my mom, they have been in our family for 50 years. I live and have always lived here in Tennessee. They were apparently bought near Orlando, fl in the 60's. I know very little about art, however: I was told that her early work can be worth some money? Any help would be great. One is a 36 by 24 and the other two are both 12 by 24. All three are signed. The larger one has a plain back and the two smaller ones say "canvas board". I can and will send you pictures. My questions would be: how rare are they and how much are they worth?
Thank you again for your help.
Typical response:
Hi, -----.
This is called a triptych (trip-tick), a matching set of 3 pictures. Most of the highwaymen artists did them.
I can see that they are genuine, and from the 60's, but you already knew that.
The market for these is variable, and yes, they have value as collectible art.
They are worth considerably more now than they were in the 60's when she probably sold them for about $20.00, 5.00 and 5.00
They are also worth less than what they were trading for 5 or 6 years ago before the economy went into the toilet.
This is a cyclical supply and demand market and current prices reflect lack of demand for vintage pieces.
Since she is alive and aggressively marketing her new work it has affected the supply side as well, if only psychologically.
You have not indicated whether or not you want to sell them or keep them.
In either case, you obviously need to know what they are worth.
As well as buying and selling these paintings, I also established a specialized appraisal service about 12 years ago..
Since my knowlege has value, I provide this service for a fee of $ 100.00 per painting.
As a triptych, I would include all three in one certificate for a single fee of $150.00, payable by check or $155.00 payable through Paypal.
The appraisal is based on so-called "replacement price" which we consider "insurance value".
The liquid value, my immediate "turn them into cash" buy price, is about half of that somewhat inflated number.
If you wish to sell them to me, I would need to physically inspect them, here in Florida, before issuing a check.
I can issue the certificate of appraisal by using the images you sent and asking a couple of relevant questions.
An example is on my first website linked below.
If you agree that seems fair, we can continue.
If not, please let me know with a simple email so I can delete these files which tend to accumulate.


cell 727 809 1691