More than 100 Brillo boxes, said to be works by Andy Warhol, have been declared “copies” by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board after a three-year investigation.

The boxes in question were produced by the late Pontus Hultén (1924-2006), the founding director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. Hultén claimed that Warhol authorised the production of the boxes for the seminal exhibition that Hultén curated in Stockholm in 1968. But in 2007, the Swedish newspaper Expressen discovered that no wooden boxes had been displayed in the show and that cardboard boxes from the Brillo factory had been used instead. It set out to research the date and manufacture of Hultén’s boxes, many of which had entered the market.

In 1994, the Belgian dealer Ronny van de Velde bought 40 boxes from Hultén for $240,000. . . In 2004, the London dealer Brian Balfour of Archeus Fine Art bought 22 boxes from Hultén for around £640,000. Ten were sold through Christie’s shortly afterwards to a UK buyer for £475,650, who turned out to be the art dealer Anthony d’Offay. Balfour also had letters from Hultén and the Warhol authentication board.

In July, the board sent a report to Lars Nittve, director of the Moderna Museet, which holds six of the disputed boxes in its collection. It said it had “examined and re-examined” the “box sculptures”, Hultén’s personal papers and other museum archives, and were now downgrading the boxes to “copies”.

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