Forgeries, Stolen Works and Works with Inconclusive Provenance

The Ben Enwonwu Foundation oversees Ben Enwonwu’s legacy, as well as copyright. In recent years, several fake paintings wrongly attributed to Enwonwu have appeared, and in many cases fetched staggering fees at respectable auction houses, both domestic and international.

This growing phenomenon is a violation of Enwonwu’s legacy and serves to damage his artistic heritage. The Ben Enwonwu Foundation wishes to expose such fraudulent and criminal behaviour.

As part of strategic efforts to stem the spate of forgeries, The Ben Enwonwu Foundation will post images of fake and stolen works, as well as works with inconclusive provenance on this website to advertise their existence and to educate the public. It is hoped this will discourage illegal activity in this secondary market.

Authentication Service

The Ben Enwonwu Foundation offers a research and authentication service for artworks attributed to Ben Enwonwu.

Our expertise in the work of Ben Enwonwu and archive of unpublished resources makes us uniquely placed to assess your artwork through visual analysis and in-depth research. We are trusted by museums, galleries and auction houses, as well as private collectors worldwide.

The authentication process begins with a research enquiry.

Our research and authentication service is divided into two logical stages for cost-effectiveness and efficiency:

Stage 1: Research Enquiries (Fee: N25,000.00 + VAT per object)

Complete our online enquiry form with as much information as possible about your artwork including:

  • Name and location of the current owner
  • History of ownership (provenance)
  • Title of the work
  • Medium
  • Dimensions
  • Images of the work including close-ups of any labels, marks or signature
  • Specific questions or concerns that you have

Our research team will then cross-reference the information provided with published and unpublished resources including:

  • The Ben Enwonwu catalogue raisonné of sculpture, drawings and graphics
  • Records of previously uncatalogued and unpublished works
  • The Foundation’s digital database of Ben Enwonwu artworks
  • Our database of recorded fakes and misattributions
  • Material from the Ben Enwonwu Archive including sales and exhibition catalogues, correspondence and diaries
  • Comparative works in The Ben Enwonwu Foundation Collection

When we have completed our research, we will send you our recommendation via email, confirming:

  • If the work is by Ben Enwonwu
  • If the information submitted ties in with our records
  • Whether the work should be seen by the Ben Enwonwu authentication committee
  • How the work is catalogued – title, date, medium and catalogue reference number (for works by Enwonwu)
  • Any other specific information requested in the initial enquiry

If stage 1 proves inconclusive, we may recommend applicants to submit their artwork to the authentication committee for further analysis. Our committee of experts will review the preliminary research and examine the artwork before offering an opinion.

Stage 2: Authentication Committee (Fee: N75,000.00 + VAT per object)

Applicants will need to arrange for the work to be delivered to the Foundation in Ikoyi, Lagos between 7 and 10 days in advance of the meeting. Applicants are solely responsible for arranging and covering the cost of transport and insurance.

The authentication committee will examine the artwork and accompanying information in detail. The meeting includes the following:

  • Review research findings
  • Physical examination of the artwork to include stylistic and technical analysis
  • Comparative analysis of style, technique, material, dimensions, etc, with related works in The Ben Enwonwu Foundation Collection, unpublished photographic records and digital database

After the committee meeting, the Foundation will issue a letter confirming:

  • Whether the work is by Ben Enwonwu
  • How the work is catalogued – title, date, medium and catalogue reference number (for works by Ben Enwonwu)
  • Answers to specific research questions

Research and Authentication FAQs

Q: What’s the difference between a research enquiry and authentication?

A research enquiry is the first stage of authentication. Before a work can be seen by the authentication committee, preliminary research is completed to find out if it conforms to our records. Research enquiries are completed without viewing the original artwork. Responses to research enquiries are sent via email. The second stage of authentication requires that artworks are delivered to the Foundation for examination by the authentication committee. After the panel meeting, the Foundation issues a letter stating its opinion and issues certificates for authentic works.

Q: Do I need to send in the original artwork?

If you would like your work to be seen by the authentication committee, they need to view the actual object. You will need to arrange for it to be delivered to the Foundation in Ikoyi, Lagos between 7 and 10 days in advance of the meeting. Applicants are solely responsible for arranging and covering the cost of transport and insurance.

Q: Is the information I provide confidential or will it be made public?

All information you share with us is strictly confidential, or permission is granted otherwise.

Q: How long will it take to receive a response to my research enquiry?

We aim to respond to enquiries within a week. However, if there is a specific deadline, we will do our best to accommodate it.

Q: I want to sell my Ben Enwonwu work now. Do I need to wait for a response to my research enquiry?

We strongly advise that works are withheld from sale and publication until a response has been received from the Foundation.

Q: What is the best way to send my work to the authentication committee?

We recommend sending artworks via a reputable fine art transport agent, particularly if sending from outside Nigeria as they would advise on the necessary customs procedures. Please liaise with the Foundation to arrange the delivery date to ensure someone is available to receive the work on arrival.

Q: Will my work be safe at the Foundation?

Works are kept in secure storage area at all times. However, insurance and transportation are the sole responsibility of all applicants. The Ben Enwonwu Foundation will not accept responsibility for loss or damage to the artwork for any reason, including theft, fire, leakage, accidents, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Q: How soon after the authentication committee meeting can I collect my work?

We request that works are collected within two weeks of the authentication committee except in specially arranged cases. Commercial storage applies after the 2-week period has lapsed.

Q: If the committee does not consider the work to be by Ben Enwonwu can I appeal?

It is at the discretion of the authentication committee to subject the work to further review, including scientific methods of investigation.

Q: Can I share the outcome of authentication with others?

You may share the outcome of the authentication committee.

Q: I would like my work authenticated now, is that possible?

The authentication committee meets twice a year. Occasionally, we may be able to authenticate works at other times. If you have a special request please contact info@benenwonwufoundation.org.

Q: Does the Ben Enwonwu Foundation provide valuations?

Yes. We sometimes work in collaboration with reputable auction houses to determine values of Enwonwu works.