Art Conservation UV Analysis of Modern Painting Before Sale At Auction

Standard operating procedure and due diligence for art collectors, curators etc should be the inspection of the artwork , BEFORE ACQUISITION, with a black light (also known as a UV light). But contemporary and modern art often pose weird and different situations that may require a second opinion. Hence, the reason why I was invited to visit Bonhams and Butterfields Auction House the other day to look at a painting:

Bonhams and Butterfields is intent on having all aspects of condition figured out for potential clients and consults with experts in art research, art conservation and painting restoration, art appraisals and art dealers when appropriate. This video illustrates their level of trust in these experts to give a solid, trustworthy second opinion.

For other methods of analyzing art (and doing due diligence) see this YouTube playlist:

For questions contact Scot Levitt, Head of Paintings Dept at Bonhams 323 436 5425 or Tell him we sent you!!

For Art Conservation questions call Scott Haskins 805 564 3438
See short video tour of painting conservation lab at
805 570 4140 mobile or

A thumbs up and a comment would be appreciated… after all, we just saved you $1,000 from making a mistake on your next purchase!

About Scott M. Haskins

Scott Haskins has been in professional art conservation since 1975, specializing in the conservation/restoration of easel paintings, murals and art on paper. FACL, Inc. is known nationally for doing A+ work no matter the size or difficulty of the project. We are happy to do a quick cleaning on a family heirloom. Our client list and resume is also full of very satisfied clients of large, difficult/complicated projects at remote locations. Excellent services are also available as an Expert Witness/Legal Testimony in art related matters. Consultation on art related projects occur regularly including extensive insurance evaluations for insured or insurer. Services are offered worldwide. Scott M. Haskins is also author of the "Save Your Stuff" series, educational information, materials and supplies to help people protect and save their treasured family heirlooms and collectibles at home and office. He can be reached at 805 564 3438. Video and written testimonials at
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19 Responses to Art Conservation UV Analysis of Modern Painting Before Sale At Auction

  1. Steven Turman says:

    When you are talking about high end art, I see no issue with asking for another opinion to ensure that you are selling what you say you are selling. Great tips, Scott!

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Steven, thanks for the comment. But there is a suggestion for ALL art and antique collectors: Go on Amazon, buy a UV flashlight (the more powerful the better) and put it in your pocket when you go antiquing or garage sale shopping and look at everything that’s old with it to see what you can see. Contact me with questions after you’ve tried it!!

  2. Richard Vetter says:

    I have watched a couple of videos here on your site now, but the one thing that I am wonder is what you might charge for a basic cleaning project? I have an old painting that has been in the family for many years and it can be cleaned up, at the least. It might even need small repairs that I am not seeing. Let me know 🙂

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Thanks Richard for your comment. We do work for people all over the US. But it may be more convenient for you to use a local person if you can find the right person. So, give me a call and we can discuss. BTW, cleaning a painting is not a per-square-inch type of estimate. So, we’ll talk about that. Call me at my office at 805 564 3438, TTYS.

  3. Francis Bradfield says:

    Great article and the video was really interesting. It seems fun to walk through a collection of artwork before the sale and look things over. Being a renown expert must give you a great feeling!

  4. Miguel Mabery says:

    When you take that UV light to a painting, I am amazed at what you can really see. Of course, in your profession, things pop out a little easier for you than they would for me. Having tools like this available for you to do you job must be a good thing and make your job a bit easier!

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Miguel, its a matter of education. Its not magic. So, the more you learn the easier it is to recognize the “red flags”, the good deals, the sleepers… and to be a better investor and passionate collector.

  5. Roberta Lara says:

    It is calming knowing that a high end dealer will make things right when something like this comes up. Wouldn’t you think they could save themselves some trouble by doing the inspection before getting it out for sale?

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Roberta, a smart dealer DOES inspect the item before buying! And the exam with the UV light is always a step a smart dealer is sure to do.

  6. Arlene Erickson says:

    This is a great learning experience. I have always wanted to buy art, but I am never confident that I am going to get art worth my money. Knowing things like this can really help with that!

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Hi Arlene, garage sales are the best place to buy low cost art. Try to always buy originals… but it would be educational of you to always have a blacklight to look at the art… even if its only $20!

  7. Angela Quintero says:

    There is no joking about how you have saved us money! There are so many things, that when it comes to art, you can really get yourself into a bind that costs you a lot of money. Thank you for the video!

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Awareness of the right way to do it is an important part of the educational process. Always “doing it” takes some commitment.

  8. Barbara Lopez says:

    I have messed around with UV light in the past and I am always amazed at what you can see. The smallest detailed repair/touch up can be seen clearly even if you cannot see it with your own eyes in normal light. The UV light is your friend!

  9. Ella White says:

    Thank you for the video! That really touches base on the importance of this analytical technique for the inspection process and how to see previous restoration processes. I think it is amazing what you can see with the blacklight.

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Thanks Ella for leaving a comment. Take a look at the other interesting videos (see link in blog post) on analytical ways to inspect artwork and antiques.

  10. Tony Martin says:

    It would seem to me that the inspection process would be the most important time to use a UV light. At that time, it would be the best time to assess what types of repairs are needed. If you miss something, it might not be easy to just go back and get someone else to pay to fix it up.

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Tony, you are right! Asking someone to “come clean” later doesn’t get a sympathetic response from the seller sometimes. However, that said, if the previous restoration work wasn’t appropriately divulged and it makes a difference in the value, then a higher end auction house (like Bonham and Butterfield) will either get the conservation work done properly or refund the money of the purchase… at least I’ve seen it done. High end dealers will also find a way to “make it right” if the same situation arises… at least I’ve seen it done.

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