Fake Remington & Russell Bronzes

Value (2011) | $1,000$1,600
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GUEST:
I brought four bronzes. I brought three Russells, which are this one, this one, and this one-- Charles Russell-- and this is a Frederic Remington bronze.

APPRAISER:
Where did you purchase them from?

GUEST:
At an auction.

APPRAISER:
All in the same auction?

GUEST:
All in the same auction.

APPRAISER:
Okay, and may I ask, do you remember how much you paid for all of these items?

GUEST:
I think it was between $2,000 and $2,500.

APPRAISER:
For the group?

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
And your main intention of coming to the Roadshow today was to find out whether these were authentic or not.

GUEST:
Yeah, that, and there were so few of these made, especially these three, that it's hard to find prices on them.

APPRAISER:
Sure. There are three here, supposedly by Charles Marion Russell, and then the fourth is the Remington bronze. On the Roadshow, we see some amazing things. We see some amazing bronzes, we see some also wonderful, sort of more decorative items. Should these items be correct, the values would be considerable. This bust, which is by Frederic Remington, of The Savage would be tens of thousands of dollars. This Charles Marion Russell, titled Smokin' Up, would be approximately $10,000. And then these two smaller Charles Marion Russells would be around about $3,000 or $4,000 each.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Unfortunately, all of the bronzes are not correct.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Yes. This one here, The Savage, there were only a few of them cast during his lifetime, and none of them were on a marble base. So immediately, when you see a marble base, alarm bells go off, especially with Remington bronzes. Secondarily, it's a very well-documented later casting. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of examples out there of the later casting. And so this one, we're very confident, my colleagues and I, that this is a later example.

GUEST:
You had said earlier, if we were able to remove it from the marble base, we may be able to see if there was a number stamped on the underside.

APPRAISER:
But in many cases, if there was additional information on the underside, it simply would have never been mounted to the marble base. These two as well, the two smaller Russell bronzes, also are later castings. The quality is not quite where we want to be with these. And one of these, when we turn this on its side, you can see right here and right here, and in fact all around, it's just not the base that we want to see with these. They would have a completely different finish to the base, and they wouldn't have this patina, so this has been done intentionally to sort of deceive a potential buyer. And then on this one, one of the things which I noticed immediately, which is a very sneaky thing, it's a later casting, but they spelled Russell's name incorrectly. So it says "C.M. Russll," but there's no "e" in his name. And my colleague Eric Silver was telling me that they frequently did that to avoid copyright issues.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And then there are other features. The cowboy's face is just... the quality is not quite as good as the examples that we have documented of Russell's work. Each of these artists, with Frederic Remington and then in turn Charles Marion Russell, both of them were dead by 1926. Each of these were probably cast after their lifetimes, I would say anywhere from the 1940s, the Remington may have been cast as late as the 1960s. So now we come to value. We know they're later castings, and you had paid about $2,500 at auction. This one, The Savage, at auction, is maybe worth $300 or $400.

GUEST:
Unless there's a number under there.

APPRAISER:
Unless there's a number under there, which I am extremely confident that there is not. And in the case with this, where you've also got the plaque, it's just very, very unlikely. There are so many things playing against its favor.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
And with these two smaller Russell bronzes, they are worth around about $300 each for these two. And then this one here, there's actually... I found similar examples with the incorrect spelling at auction, and they're bringing between about $300 and $500 at auction.

GUEST:
Yeah. Well, it looks like I made a bad buy, huh?

APPRAISER:
Sometimes a deal is too good to be true, you know, often it is sort of thing. We just ask our buyers to be very cautious. Remington was the most faked, for lack of a better phrase, of the American sculptors out there, and we see, in every city, dozens of them.

GUEST:
Really? I guess I'd have to compare it with an older one.

APPRAISER:
Yes, indeed. Well, thank you very much for bringing them onto the Roadshow.

GUEST:
Okay, thank you, okay.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2011)
$1,000$1,600
Event
Tulsa, OK (July 23, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Form
Sculpture
Material
Bronze, Marble

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