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Fulvio Bianconi’s heirs, who claim the rights to his name, have cleared sales of glass attributed to him from eBay, deeming the pieces to be either copies or fakes. They are now vowing to pursue anyone across the world who they believe is using his name unjustly to sell works of art.

In addition, they say they will only authorise the publication of photos of works attributed to the designer if the piece shown has been authenticated by them personally.

If they do, indeed, have the right to such a claim, this could have serious implications for auction houses or dealers producing catalogues, or wishing to sell items via the Internet, as with eBay.

The move has astonished and angered dealers, some of whom have dealt for years in Murano glass from the Venice factory of Venini, for whom Bianconi designed. They say the pieces posted on eBay are genuine Bianconi-designed works, but eBay, who have acknowledged the family’s rights claim under their VeRO program, have removed any sales referring to the designer and have told those affected to take the matter up directly with the family.

Vanessa Paterson, a Nottingham-based glass dealer who alerted the Antiques Trade Gazette to the move, is one of those affected by the eBay ban. She insists the glass she is offering is genuine Bianconi and has heard from other dealers who have also had their sales withdrawn at the behest of Georgiades Bianconi and other heirs.

While fake pieces are known to have taken advantage of the Bianconi name, Vanessa Paterson argues that the Bianconi family have narrowed the rules on works attributed to the designer.

Confusion remains because it is not clear whether the rights to designs made by Bianconi for the Venini factory are owned by the family or by the factory.

The family, however, insist that they are the rightful owners. They have now set out in detail, on a specially devised website, what they deem are genuine Bianconi pieces and what are not. They say works come under three categories:

• Objects made under the personal supervision of the artist present in the furnace: either by a glassmaker or usually by himself, with his own hands. “These are unique pieces, they are the ones that he has personally photographed, exhibited and, later on, sometimes given or sold.”

• Objects made shortly afterwards, by master glassmakers, copying the unique sample, generally five to ten days after its creation, often with Fulvio Bianconi’s agreement.

• Objects made later, sometimes decades after the date of creation of the “unique sample”.

The family, who are concerned that copies and fakes risk tainting the designer’s reputation, have come up with a three-point plan to tackle the issue: they say they will support exhibitions of genuine pieces, make themselves available to verify pieces and “undertake all necessary legal actions to prevent the making and selling, in Italy and abroad, of glasses copied or attributed to Fulvio Bianconi”. More details can be seen by visiting the family website at www.fulviobianconi.com