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Dr. John Dabb
Is the Real Thing

Written by Erin Walsh

Dr. John Daab became interested in the field of art fraud while checking into the validity of a numbered lithograph in his personal collection. When he called to see who was keeping track of the numbers, he was told “no one.” He learned that there were relatively few regulations designed to protect consumers who were sold fraudulent works of art. He was also startled to discover that those who investigated art fraud often had little to no training.

John Daab, (Ph.D., 2008)

“While the fraudsters are trained in art, investigators lack even the most basic level of art education,” shares Daab. “When I proposed my first article to a fraud association, I had to practically twist the arm of the editor to convince him that art fraud was a billion dollar plus a year activity; one with no one monitoring to prevent it.”

Daab’s first article has since been followed by an additional one hundred others plus two books: “The Art Fraud Handbook” and “Forensic Applications in Detecting Fine, Decorative, and Collectible Art Fakes."

So how did a carpenter’s apprentice become a sought after lecturer and Princeton Art Museum Docent?

He stair-stepped his way up through the construction industry while completing a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Brooklyn College, followed by four master’s degrees earned from the New York Institute of Technology (M.B.A. and M.P.S. in Human Relations), Rutgers (M.A. in Labor Studies) and City University of New York (M.A. in Philosophy).

“Art fraud is a $1 billion a year industry.”

In 1994, Daab became a Certified Fraud Examiner specializing in art fraud. He started Princeton Art Forensics in 1999, specializing in examining art authentication reports for signs of fraud.

Daab completed his Ph.D. in 2008 at NCU, having written his dissertation on “Comparing Auction House, Gallery, and Private Fine Art Presale Presentations on the Internet.” He views his Ph.D. as a personal, rather than economic accomplishment, “proof that I have successfully climbed the highest intellectual mountain.”

Today, Daab is a sought after lecturer on the subject, and has presented at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Princeton University Art Museum and Windros University, to name a few. He spends his time researching and writing plus lecturing and presenting tours as a Princeton University Art Museum Docent. He also combines his construction and art background to create reinforced concrete sculptures.

If you are not sure any art you own is authentic, Daab suggests having a lab check the makeup of the piece to ensure it was created at the right time or to judge if it’s impossible that the work was made during the time claimed. Secondly, validate the provenance and documentation of the piece. Then, check the style of the piece to confirm that it is in sync with the artist’s traits and there aren’t any anomalies that would expose the piece as a fake.

Credentials, Licensures and Certifications

Lifelong learner John Daab’s pursuit of knowledge is not limited to the higher degrees he has earned, but extends into numerous credentials, licensures and certifications.

“Credentials and certifications require study and testing, demonstrating that the person holding these knowledge badges has at least taken the time to absorb knowledge and has demonstrated this absorption by passing tests,” he explains. “I feel more comfortable having studied, tested out and earned my knowledge badges rather than being merely a poseur.”

Daab’s certifications include:

  • CFE – Certified Fraud Examiner
  • CFC – Certified Forensic Consultant
  • CCI – Certified Criminal Investigator
  • CHS-1 – Certified in Homeland Security
  • IAC – Certified Intelligence Analyst

He also holds Diplomate status with the American Board of Forensic Examiners (DABFE), and is a CI – Certified Instructor and RI - Registered Investigator with the American College of Forensic Examiners International.