Florida gallery owner arrested after selling fake art pieces


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida gallery proprietor has been arrested on federal charges for peddling bogus artwork pieces, declaring the low-priced reproductions ended up in fact originals by Andy Warhol, Banksy, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat and some others, federal prosecutors mentioned.

A grievance filed in South Florida federal court docket Thursday accused Palm Beach front artwork dealer Daniel Elie Bouaziz of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in his alleged plan to sell solid copies of substantial-finish art.

Bouaziz, a French citizen initially from Algeria, was purchased launch on $500,000 bail just after an preliminary hearing Friday. He has not however entered a plea to the rates, in accordance to court docket information.

Bouaziz bought some of the forged art parts for hundreds of countless numbers of bucks apiece, prosecutors said in a news launch. An FBI felony affidavit said undercover brokers set $22 million down for various of the bogus parts.

Saying to be an artwork expert and an formal appraiser, Bouaziz appraised the inauthentic artwork he offered to the victims at an improved price, the FBI affidavit explained. To give one particular illustration, the FBI suggests Bouaziz bought a Warhol copy print for $100 and sold it for $85,000.

He owned two art galleries on Palm Beach’s famed Truly worth Avenue, a person of the wealthiest spots in the U.S.

“The FBI did not notice a solitary transaction in people accounts in which Bouaziz or his galleries purchased superior-worth artwork,” the affidavit suggests. “Bouaziz procured minimal-cost reproductions from on the internet auction sites that he then resold to unsuspecting victims, as originals, at considerably increased prices.”

And even people had been minimal. For case in point, an original Andy Warhol portray would likely offer for millions of pounds. Bouaziz, in accordance to the FBI, sold just one of Warhol’s performs called “Superman,” of which there were various versions, for just $25,000.

“I purchase about 200 paintings in auction each and every yr and I guarantee my stuff. I indicate I am at the rear of my stuff,” Bouaziz explained in a conversation recorded by the FBI. “I’m not obtaining matters that all people has. That is why you do not see them in the other galleries.”

The affidavit does not specify how lots of people today ended up victimized. Bouaziz will have a plea listening to on June 15. No demo day has been scheduled at this time.


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