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UNIQ Guide: Everything to know about certificates of authenticity

In addition to offering individuals the possibility to express their imagination, art has evolved to become a true commercial business. Consequently creating an extensive market of buyers and sellers. Which makes the certificate of authenticity or “COA” the most important aspect of the circulation of works of art today.

What is a certificate of authenticity?
Certificates of authenticity have existed for decades, they were once a source of prestige in order to prove the origin of the work. The certificate is usually a document that serves as a historical record of the sale made, as well as the record of the link between the work and the artist.

Why is it important to have a certificate of authenticity?
Unfortunately, we live in a world full of reproductions, so determining the value of a work of art depends entirely on making sure that what one is buying is authentic. On the other hand, they also have the function of keeping a historical record of the origin of the work, guaranteeing that the purchase or sale is legitimate.

What characteristics does a certificate of authenticity have?

  • They can carry a hologram that matches the work or a serial number
  • It must include a detailed description of the work such as: title, technique, date of production, material, dimensions, etc.
  • Artist’s and seller contact
  • Artist’s signature
  • Value of the work
  • Photograph of the work

How can a certificate of authenticity fulfill its function in terms of ancient works? 

Although there is no single answer, for a certificate to do its job, it must be linked to the artwork in a way that cannot be tampered with. Experts suggest not relying on certificates, but on the origin of the work. In other words, having the possibility of verifying who the seller is and what their relationship is with the work for sale.

Who can issue a certificate of authenticity?
If the work in question belongs to a living artist, the certificate must come from him. Otherwise, there are different options: It could be issued by the gallery that represents the artist or, some foundation or institution that has the power to do so.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you make a purchase of a work of art:

  • Confirm all information is included within the certificate
  • Make sure the document is an original and not a photocopy
  • Obtain direct purchase receipts from the artist or the gallery that represents him, they can work as support material for the verification of origin and authenticity of the work
  • Certificates of works made by famous artists who were part of a great production such as Warhol, Picasso, Miró and Chagall, among others, must include a detailed description of the work, as well as specifications of the series to which it belongs. Mentions of previous owners, edition number of books and catalogs in which it appears
  • Make sure the artist’s image and signature matches the work

If you require additional support, our experts are ready to provide it. Send an email to for more information.

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