Fake: Forgery, Lies, & eBay

Kenneth Walton, Author
Kenneth Walton, Author . Simon Spotlight Entertainment $21.95 (296p) ISBN 978-1-4169-0711-4
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-1-4169-4805-6
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4169-3461-5
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In November 1998, Walton was a bored, unproductive 31-year-old Sacramento attorney when a "boorish" army buddy, Ken Fetterman, showed him his eBay art auctions on the Internet, gave him a five-minute tutorial on "the world's largest flea market" and cut Walton in on an auction that doubled his $400 investment. Soon Walton was frequenting thrift stores, making shill bids to raise the price on his own and Fetterman's auctions and selling paintings with signatures he strongly suspected were doctored by Fetterman, even allowing one buyer to think he'd landed a Giacometti. When Walton forges Richard Diebenkorn's signature on a painting that auctions for $135,805 in May 2000, the result is front-page coverage in the New York Times and an FBI investigation. The amoral slacker loses friends, lovers and his law license. eBay bans him for life; he pleads guilty to a felony and gets probation. Walton is humbled but gains a conscience, a pure love of art and a passion for computer programming. This engrossing morality tale is also a primer on how to commit Internet fraud, an indictment of eBay and its lackadaisical attitudes about crime, as well as a sad commentary on society where art is a commodity to be bought sight unseen by the greedy and foolish. (May)

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