In addition, there is often a lack of information about the origins of a cast and the market does not distinguish for the most part between lifetime and posthumous Rodin bronzes. For example, a lifetime cast by Giacometti sold for US $ 1 million at auction whereas four posthumous casts of the same subject went for $ 500,000. Strangely enough, while auction houses in New York or London have not been so much careful regarding Giacometti works, Sotheby's or Christie's have on the other hand refused to sell posthumous Brancusi bronzes though their counterparts in Paris welcome such opportunity.
The main question is whether a collector wants to own originals or reproductions. Still, the main problem is to detect the originals among reproductions and that is a rather formidable task.
In 1974 the College Art Association, led by the late art historian Albert Elsen, adopted a comprehensive "Statement on Standards for Sculptural Reproductions and Preventive Measures to Combat Unethical Casting in Bronze" but in 25 years the situation did not really improve as institutions have gone along with posthumous castings without defining what the casts are and exhibiting them and having people try to appreciate them as originals. This has been particularly true of Rodin.
The case of Degas sums up why it is so difficult to pass judgement on the practice of posthumous casting. Degas never cast his clay and wax models of dancers, bathers and horses in bronze himself.
Still, if they had not been cast after his death they would have disintegrated. Given the awesome prices Degas's bronzes fetch - a cast of «Little Dancer 14 years old» sold for over $ 10 million at Christie's in 1988 and $ 12,3 million recently- the fact they are posthumous seems to have had no negative impact on the market.
There is however a controversy regarding their aesthetic value with the message of Degas being lost in the very medium that was employed to save it.