The term Provenance refers to the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature and can take many forms:
- A signed certificate or statement of authenticity from a respected authority or expert on the artist.
- An exhibition or gallery sticker attached to the art.
- A statement, either verbal or written, from the artist.
- An original gallery sales receipt or receipt directly from the artist.
- A film or recording of the artist talking about the art.
- An appraisal from a recognized authority or expert on the artist.
- Names of previous owners of the art.
- Letters or papers from recognized experts or authorities discussing the art.
- Newspaper or magazine articles mentioning or illustrating the art.
- A mention or illustration of the art in a book or exhibit catalog.
- Verbal information related by someone familiar with the art or who knows the artist and who is qualified to speak authoritatively about the art.
- Documentation must be originals, hand-signed, hand-stamped or otherwise marked by hand.
- Photocopies are not valid forms of provenance
- All signatures on documentation must be identifiable, and contact information for all signers must be included and verifiable.
- Provenance is fact, not supposition.
- All statements made pertaining to present and past ownership and/or history of the art must be verifiable. That includes names and contact information of previous owners and proof of past ownership.(private parties, galleries and art dealers as well as auction houses said to have sold the piece in the past).
- An appraisal does not constitute valid provenance unless it has been performed by a reputable and respected expert or authority on the specific artist, stating irrefutably that the work of art in question is by the artist in question.