A well-known Palm Beach art dealer whose Worth Avenue gallery was raided by at least a dozen federal agents in December has been indicted on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an alleged scheme to sell forged high-end artwork.
The indictment alleges that he engaged in a scheme to sell paintings and other artwork that he falsely marketed for sale as original or authentic pieces by prominent artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Banksy, and Roy Lichtenstein. Some of the fake pieces that were sold or offered for sale as authentic as part of the alleged scheme include a Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum print, a work by George Rodrigue, and a Basquiat painting that was priced at $12 million.
According to the DOJ press release, the art dealer purchased and acquired pieces from various sources, to include online auction sites at low prices, and falsely sold the pieces as originals, at drastically increased prices, at his retail art galleries on Worth Avenue. To make the fraudulent art appear authentic, he allegedly made false representations to prospective buyers regarding the provenance and originality of the art. The indictment further alleges that he laundered money he received from the fraudulent art scheme.
An indictment is only an accusation, and the art dealer is presumed innocent until proven guilty.