We present a novel framework for lossless (invertible) authentication watermarking, which enables zero-distortion reconstruction of the un-watermarked images upon verification. As opposed to earlier lossless authentication methods that required reconstruction of the original image prior to validation, the new framework allows validation of the watermarked images before recovery of the original image. This reduces computational requirements in situations when either the verification step fails or the zero-distortion reconstruction is not needed. For verified images, integrity of the reconstructed image is ensured by the uniqueness of the reconstruction procedure. The framework also enables public(-key) authentication without granting access to the perfect original and allows for efficient tamper localization. Effectiveness of the framework is demonstrated by implementing the framework using hierarchical image authentication along with lossless generalized-least significant bit data embedding.