Are you an art collector? Have you made significant investments in valuable works by renowned artists? If your answer is yes, you would be wise to check the provenance of the pieces that are hanging on your walls, and if you have concerns to get in touch with an experienced antiquities and art fraud attorney. Art and antiquities fraud is a multi-million dollar industry that is catching experienced and knowledgeable collectors off guard – even the curators from the Guggenheim Museum and the National Gallery of Art have been fooled, and lawsuits seeking compensation for the damages that collectors have incurred have sought as much as $25 million.
In an $80 million scam that recently came to light, customers who purchased art from Manhattan’s oldest art gallery were shocked to find that the pieces that they had spent millions of dollars on had actually been created by a talented Chinese artist who was being paid $500 for each piece that he churned out. Pei-Shen Quian, who is now in hiding in China, was discovered by a Spanish fraudster named Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz. Bergantinos was waiting tables when he came upon Pei-Shen selling art on the sidewalk, and he paid him to duplicate famous works of art which he in turn would age using tea and dirt, then turn over to his girlfriend who sold them to the art gallery. The girlfriend, Giafira Rosales, created stories of mysterious origins and used them to convince art gallery owners that the pieces she was selling were lost works by known masters such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and others.
The scam went on for years, with the couple selling over 60 faked art pieces to both Knoedler and another well-known art gallery, and it was not until a counterfeit Pollock painting was discovered by the International Foundation for Art Research, and the art world has been abuzz ever since. Though some of those who had been scammed quietly resolved the issue through settlements or ignored the issue out of fear of calling the value of their entire collection into question, others pursued the case openly in court, seeking compensation for the millions that they invested and lost. The galleries cited earlier were among those who were fooled by the counterfeits – one piece was even borrowed for an exhibition in another museum.
The owners of the galleries have protested that they were victims in the same way that those who they sold the art to were – that they were fooled by the mastery of the pieces that were presented to them. But employees and experts in the field argue that the sheer number of pieces with lost paper trails should have tipped them off to the fact that the works could not be legitimate. If you suspect that you have been the victim of this type of scam, the legal system offers recourse and compensation, and the attorneys at Bochetto & Lentz can help. Call us today to set up a consultation on your situation.