Updated Jan 21
The parade and John Beattie, in Toronto, Ontario’s Allan Gardens, in 1974 – he’s the face behind the left flag – and nine years after my encounter with him, with that snarling face only inches in front of me. In 2015 he’s running for public office in Minden, Ontario, because he “wants to be heard.” I certainly heard him, loud, and clear, and close, in 1965 when we were both 24. We’re both older now, and some are wiser… CURATOR EMERITUS
Historical photos, like the one above from 1965, showing the author with the pipe (right) are extremely valuable in helping to date historical artifacts and give fool-proof authenticity to their provenance. Note too, that the forehead wrinkles, fifty years apart, are another indicator that the same person is in the two photographs. The strong lower wrinkle, angling up, and ending in a unique whorl – like a fingerprint – is very diagnostic. It proves the pipe is at least 50 years old, AND BELONGED TO JOHN GOLDI. Remember, NAMED ARTIFACTS AND MEMORABILIA ARE MUCH MORE VALUABLE, than ones that cannot be tied to a historical personage. But saying so doesn’t make it so. You’ve got to have photographic proof – or something else convincing – of provenance. A lot of this kind of advice on the authentication of art, relics, and historical memorabilia can be found on my “Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum” site, the largest and most lavishly illustrated internet museum in the world. BEST PIPE OF ALL
In 1965 Jim Rennie, a fourth year journalism student and I, then in the third year of Modern History at the University of Toronto, decided to go undercover, and infiltrate the founding meetings of the Canadian Nazi Party which made headlines that year.
The author, RIGHT, at 14, dressed in his Davy Crockett outfit during the Fess Parker craze in 1956. GOOD OLD DAYS
It was an unnerving experience. I remember attending a meeting, late at night, behind shuttered curtains, in a run-down Toronto storefront, being isolated, surrounded by half a dozen scowling and threatening fanatics and John Beattie, only inches from my face, snarling at me, quite convincingly, that bad things would happen to me if I turned out to be a journalist and not a Nazi devotee. He made a foolproof argument. And thinking the better of it, we never went back.
As I grew older, regardless of what kind of Nazi threatened me with dire consequences, I refused to bend to such thuggery when it sought to intimidate honest and independent investigative journalism conducted with due diligence, in the public interest. Inspired by the Davy Crockett passion I picked up in 1956, when Davy advised youngsters:“First be sure you’re right; then go ahead.”
50 years as an investigative journalist and professional historical researcher has involved:
“Honest Ed” Mirvish helped put me through university when he gave me a job, three days a week in 1962, as a cashier at his famous store. (My parents couldn’t help.) I fondly remember him at the huge Christmas party he gave for his staff, coming up to me, warmly shaking my hand and welcoming me aboard. I’ll never forget him; he gave me a critical boost in my life when I was desperate; he was a true Mensch. Alas! Ed wasn’t perfect. He raised an inheritor son, David, who spent millions of his Daddy’s hard-earned cash on fake paintings just to impress his friends… And NO David did not waste his money on genuine Morrisseaus; he preferred to spend his Daddy’s millions on fake Jackson Pollocks that came with good provenance from a reputable New York gallery (you know, like Donald Robinson of KRG says you should also do – AKA buy from him…) When David resold one of his fakes (he bought for $4 million) for $17 million to a British financier, he thought he was in heaven. Alas, he had to pay it all back, when the courts and forensic experts ruled the painting was fake, the provenance was faked, etc. No wonder Thomas Hoving the longtime director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and one of the world’s top art experts, disagrees so strenuously with Donald Robinson. “Fuck off with your provenance,” he famously said, “that can all be faked.” And it routinely is altered, deleted, hidden, and commonly manufactured out of thin air, by art gallery owners to promote sales. BACK IN 1962
– going undercover in 1965 to infiltrate Nazi Party of Canada and John Beattie
– exposing Ipperwash, the worst anti-Aboriginal conspiracy of Canadian government, police, & media malfeasance in modern Canadian history IPPERWASH DISGRACE
– researching and establishing Canadian James Cooper Mason as the world’s very first genuine combat photographer MASON DSO
– developing the world’s first suggested academic nomenclature for classifying historic stone relics and rock memorabilia ROCK ME
– exposing renowned top Canadian pottery expert, Elizabeth Collard, as completely wrong in the professional literature. when she snorted, categorically, that the image transfer used on the famous J Heath “Ontario Lake Scenery Dinner Ware Service of 1845-1853,” was fake and fanciful, claiming that “No stretch of the imagination could credit (this) view to Canada.” Collard Heath
A stark example of just how utterly wrong, a highly revered Canadian authority like the late Elizabeth Collard can be, even in a subject area she was/is the preeminent expert in – 19th century Canadian china and pottery. My research proved that the 1840s J Heath transfer, far from being fanciful, is in fact, with allowance for artistic expression, in every way a factual representation of Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle, the Niagara Escarpment and the scores of waterfalls that dot the area. But hey, Elizabeth made only 1 (one) false call in a lifetime of distinguished academic achievement. Donald Robinson (in collaboration with his son Paul of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries), has made LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF DOCUMENTED, UTTERLY FALSE CALLS IN AUTHENTICATING NORVAL MORRISSEAU PAINTINGS, WRONGHEADEDLY AND DIABOLICALLY DENOUNCING AS FORGERIES, PAINTINGS AUTHENTICATED BY JUDGES, COURTS, ART EXPERTS, AND FORENSIC SCIENTISTS. NOW IF THAT ISN’T AN UNFORGIVABLE AND UNSURPASSABLE RECORD OF INCOMPETENCE FOR AN ART EXPERT IN WORLD HISTORY? – HOW COULD YOU, LIZ?
– publishing the largest exposé of fake combat photographs in history FAKE PHOTOS
– exposing Canada’s two most famous combat photos as fakes 7 FAKE CANADIANS
– publishing the world’s largest & most lavish internet museum – the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum MUSEUM
– providing genuine historical documents, photos, paintings to museums, publishers, and collectors around the world EXHIBITS ON TOUR
Two ultra-rare pieces of original Canadian art, featuring Cookstown’s own Jack Baker (detail), left, c 1910 in pastel (KIA in 1917), and Lindsay’s own George Laidlaw (detail) c 1885, oil on canvas. They are two of the some 4,500 antique items (all over 100 years old), I have collected and curated for the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum. They illustrate two approaches to provenance. The Jack Baker Collection – the large pastel illustrated, his complete uniform (plus cap, pants, sash) he is wearing, his Boer War era bugle, his WWI gas rattle etc., were all acquired directly from his family. Their provenance is inviolate. The George Laidlaw oil came without a name, or title, or history, or provenance of any kind. “Neat eh!” was all the seller could tell me. I had to research it from the ground up – starting with the name of the town in which I had bought it – to put a name, date, place, etc. on it that is unchallengeable. In fact his family later asked for copies of it for displaying in their homes. In later years, George was a huge benefactor of the Royal Ontario Museum, responsible for a large section of its First Nations gallery. Family provenance that you can believe – most of it is wrong most of the time – is rare. 99% of the 4,500 memorabilia items I have acquired for the Museum had NO PROVENANCE OF ANY KIND WITH IT. That is usual with most museum and archival collections. I had to verify their authenticity independently. IN FACT 99% OF THE ART THAT IS SOLD IN CANADA – BOTH FINE ART AND ANTIQUES LIKE THESE TWO EXAMPLES – HAS NO PROVENANCE – NONE, NIX, NADA – ATTACHED TO IT WHATSOEVER. IN FACT ALL FINE ART AUCTIONS AND ART GALLERIES HAVE A HARD-CORE POLICY TO UTTERLY REFUSE TO TELL A BUYER WHO THE PREVIOUS OWNER WAS AND WHERE IT CAME FROM. OR THEY WILL LIE ABOUT IT TO MAKE THE SALE… So Norval’s art is no different from literally thousands of other fine art that I’ve personally examined and seen come on the market, originating from AY Jackson, AJ Cason, CW Jefferys, Emily Carr, Arthur Lismer, Cornelius Krieghoff, Fred Verner, Homer Watson, Carl Schaefer, FM Bell-Smith, Bob Bateman, etc. all of whose provenance was firmly denied me by Sotheby’s, Ritchie’s, Joyner’s, Heffels, Waddington’s, Walker’s, Bonham’s etc. Now do you understand why Thomas Hoving tells you to “Fuck off with your provenance; that can all be faked.” Because it has to be; the fine art auction houses hide it (and their consignor’s names) with a passion because they count on being able to promise and deliver utter circumspect secrecy for those intent on fencing stolen art consigned by the Mafia and others who steal from family estates. They obviously don’t want their art traced back to them; the auctions want repeat customers, not turn them off and away, by disclosing provenance to the new owner. Tell me about George Tell me about Jack
Provenance to Die For – Our museum collection has over 500 of these utterly fabulous antique “Canadian places” china souvenir ware items, in a bewildering range of sizes, shapes, and designs. They all date from c 1890s to c 1930. Out of all of them, only this one has provenance attached to it, from the Teeswater area of Ontario, having been given as a wedding present by Ettie Hooper McDougall to Gladys Tucker Dixon (1896-1989), as a shower gift before her marriage to Joseph Arthur Dixon (1894-1977) on Nov. 28, 1923. Fifty-three years later, on Jan. 24, 1976, Gladys gave it to her granddaughter Nancy Dianne McInnes, on Jan. 24, 1976. In 2010 I acquired it for the museum. That means that 0.2% of our fabulously authentic collection – less than half a percent – had authenticity affirmed by provenance. The same applies to the thousands of other antique items held by our museum, including the genuine art by many famous Canadian artists. The same thing applies – especially so – to 99% ot the art of the street and village painter Norval Morrisseau. Those who claim otherwise are totally – you can trust me on this – lying to you to promote a sale. Ask yourself, why would they do this? And then ask yourself: why would you do business in a place which is so obviously trying to rip you off with false provenance. IS PROVENANCE GREAT TO GET? SURE IT IS BUT IT’S VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO OBTAIN WITH ANTIQUE FURNITURE, ART, OR MEMORABILIA WHICH YOU FIND IN ANTIQUE STORES, AUCTIONS, AND YARD SALES OR EBAY. If I had only acquired the souvenir ware that came with provenance our museum collection would have only 1 (one) collectible. Other lucky people not hung up on the “provenance idiocy” would have all the other fabulous pieces. SOUVENIR WARE
– exposing the worst case of historical publishing incompetence in Canadian history, done by the tax-paid staff of the Canadian War Museum, if you can believe FAKE BOOK
– carrying out the largest investigation ever taken of Canadian South African War sites in South Africa,
– so discovering, establishing, and publishing for the first time the existence of the Canadian guard room, the Canadian hospital, and Canadian rock inscriptions in Belmont, RSA, and establishing that no Canadian government signage was anywhere on any site WOW IN AFRICA
– personally responsible for having the Canadian government declare “Canada and the South African War an event of national historic significance” in 2005, so clearing the way – OK, so it is 115 years late –
– to have the war commemorated and its dates added, for the very first time on Canada’s National War Memorial in Ottawa, on Nov 11, 2014 and so
– clearing the way to put the very first Canadian government signage on Boer War sites in South Africa, the first it has ever placed on the African continent.
– exposing fakes, frauds and con men of all kinds in art, photography, militaria, and memorabilia collecting, especially the diabolical machinations of a tiny clique of crafty Conspiracy Theorists who claim that there are “thousands of fakes by umpteen forgers” out there, of the art of Canada’s top Aboriginal artist, Norval Morrisseau… TOTALLY CREEPY BUT SELF-SERVING BALDERDASH, of course. (ex FAKE BUGLES)
THE WORST ACT OF CULTURAL GENOCIDE
IN MODERN CANADIAN HISTORY.
Every single painting they have ever claimed is fake, has subsequently been authenticated, without reservation, by a top Canadian forensic scientist and handwriting expert, and/or various Canadian judges and courts, again without a single solitary dissenting finding.
And, for everything else you never wanted to know about other Canadian creeps, crooks, and con-men of all kinds, and the crooked things they do to conspire against you, so that you can arm yourself with knowledge before you buy into:
– art – paintings, pastels, watercolours, gouaches, prints, lithos, chromolithos, reproductions, etc. ART SLEUTH
– photos – originals, reproductions, fakes, etc. FAKE PHOTO DETECTOR
– militaria – bugles, hats, badges, uniforms, guns, ammunition, BUSTS
CANADA’S FINEST BATTLEFIELD FLAG – It was the last official flag flown by President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic, at his last headquarters at Machadodorp in South Africa, in 1900, as British forces chased him to the sea and exile. It was liberated by Canadian Col. Agar Adamson who was the first man to rush into town, as the Boers fled, and grab the flag from the garden flagpole of the very house in which President Kruger (above) is sitting, only days before Agar was there. I visited the place where this precious original Canadian artifact once flew. It’s provenance is inviolate. The story of Agar racing British Field Marshal (to-be) William Birdwood (of later Gallipoli fame) for this battlefield prize, was told by Sandra Gwyn in “The Private Capital.” The Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum got this flag thanks to the kind donation of Agar’s grandson. TO VERIFY ORIGINAL ARTIFACTS AND WORKS OF ART AS GENUINE, YOU MUST HAVE MULTIPLE SOURCES OF EVIDENCE AND RUTHLESSLY CROSS-REFERENCE THEM, TO ASSURE AUTHENTICITY. ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD ACCEPTS A “CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY” OR THE SAY SO OF A GALLERY OWNER LIKE DONALD ROBINSON, AS SOME KIND OF “PROOF OF AUTHENTICITY.” IF YOU ARE ONE, YOU LEAVE YOURSELF WIDE OPEN TO GETTING SCREWED. WITHOUT DOING DUE DILIGENCE, YOU CAN ALMOST CERTAINLY GUARANTEE YOU WILL END UP WITH A PAINTING THAT HAS HAD ITS PROVENANCE (Title, Source, Previous Owner, Chain of Title, Year, Media, etc.) OBLITERATED, ALTERED, DOCTORED, INVENTED, FAKED, BY A DIABOLICAL GALLERY OWNER, TO MAKE IT MORE ATTRACTIVE AND SALABLE TO GULLIBLE AND MINDLESS BUYERS, WHO HAVE MORE MONEY THAN BRAINS. NOTE: David Mirvish famously paid $12 million for three fake Jackson Pollock paintings he was assured, by an esteemed New York gallery owner, were authentic, and had great provenance. Which is, of course, incontrovertible proof that not even an idiot forger would waste his time forging s single Morrisseau, whose originals routinely sold for $20 to $50, when there are lots of rich people willing to pay millions or tens of millions for a single forgery. – AGAR’S FLAG
– memorabilia (wood, paper, metal, fabric, tin, parian, plaster, bronze, glass, leather, china, etc.) FAKE BRONZES or, worst of all
– lies and fabrications from a creepy politician or toadying media pundit, go to: THAT SISSY LESTER at:
The Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum – the largest and most lavishly illustrated internet museum in the world.
CANADA’S FINEST BATTLEFIELD COLLECTION – A fabulous collection of genuine historical memorabilia I have collected and curated as original relics, all of which I have authenticated as being at the Battle of Hart’s River, on Mar. 31, 1902, where Canadians suffered their second worst day of casualties during the two-and-a-half year-long war in South Africa. I had to establish their provenance with all kinds of historical cross-referencing, as well as visiting the site and the graves of the Canadians. I took the bugle – that was blown over the funeral of the Canadians – back to the location. NO CERTIFICATES OF AUTHENTICITY CAME WITH THEM. AND NO ART GALLERY TOLD ME THEY WERE REAL – I WOULDN’T HAVE BELIEVED THEM IF THEY DID. YOU NEED TO ESTABLISH PROOF OUTSIDE THE ART GALLERY BEFORE YOU BUY ART… OR ANY MEMORABILIA… Or for that matter, hire any lawyer. YOU MUST CURATE YOUR OWN LIFE AND NOT LET OTHERS DO IT FOR YOU – OR GUARANTEED – YOU WILL GET SCREWED… You must keep control of your art acquisitions, your legal cases. If you don’t, just look to Ottawa to see what happens when people turn over responsibility for looking after things to Harper and Company. And where did you all end up…? BATTLE OF BOSCHBULT FARM
SEE – The Curator’s Choice of 266 of the Very Best
Canadian Historical Memorabilia Items of All Time
Very typical of hundreds of emails I get, as museum curator, from all over the world. This is very typical of family provenance of memorabilia and art. Note how the family has absolutely no proof or real knowledge of anything, but if I reply I become the expert source they will quote as provenance from now on, and help turn a family myth and fancy into a reality. A LOT OF ART GALLERY OWNERS DO EXACTLY THAT WITH PAINTINGS THEY GET AT AUCTIONS OR ARE BROUGHT IN TO THEM. THEY TURN A MYTH INTO REALITY TO MAKE A BUCK – A BIG BUCK. AND YOU? YOU END UP WITH A DUD… AND HAVING A GALLERY LABEL, OR A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY, GLEEFULLY SIGNED BY THE CLEANING LADY AT THE GALLERY WON’T CHANGE THAT ONE BIT… You MUST become an independent authority and curator of your own art, or you will end up like David Mirvish – out a cool $12 million and your reputation shot beyond repair… If you can’t do that, get out of the art business, and spend your money on something more valuable, like a night with a hooker… or a vacation to Syria…