Knowing the origin of expensive artworks has become a prime requirement in fine art markets. Provenance is exact information that leaves no doubt that an artwork is genuine and executed by the artist whose signature it bears.

The best practice is when the paper trail of an artwork can be traced from its current home back to the artist’s studio. The absence of good provenance has led to the attribution of well-known artists to lesser paintings.

The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, popularly known as the NGV, announced in 2007 that one of its prime portraits, Head of a Man, was found not to be a work by Vincent van Gogh. The painting, attributed to Van Gogh in 1920, entered the NGV collection in 1940, when the museum acquired it from a touring French and British contemporary art exhibition. Read more