Florida gallery owner busted for selling forged copies of high-end art pieces


A Florida gallery proprietor has been arrested on federal expenses for peddling pretend artwork items, declaring the affordable reproductions have been in fact originals by Andy Warhol, Banksy, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other folks, federal prosecutors claimed.

A criticism filed in South Florida federal courtroom Thursday accuses Palm Seaside artwork supplier Daniel Elie Bouaziz of mail fraud, wire fraud, and revenue laundering in his alleged plan to sell cast copies of high-stop artwork.

Bouaziz, a French citizen of Algerian descent, was purchased released on $500,000 bail just after an original listening to Friday. He has not yet entered a plea to the fees, according to court information. He could encounter many a long time in jail if convicted.

Bouaziz bought some of the solid artwork pieces for hundreds of thousands of pounds apiece, prosecutors claimed in a information launch. An FBI criminal affidavit said undercover brokers place $22 million down for several of the bogus parts.

Boasting to be an artwork professional and an formal appraiser, Bouaziz appraised the inauthentic artwork he offered to the victims at an enhanced rate, the FBI affidavit mentioned. To give one illustration, the FBI suggests Bouaziz purchased a Warhol replica print for $100 and marketed it for $85,000.

He operated two artwork galleries on Palm Beach’s famed Worthy of Avenue, a person of the wealthiest destinations in the U.S.

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“The FBI did not notice a single transaction in people accounts in which Bouaziz or his galleries acquired large-benefit artwork,” the affidavit says. “Bouaziz ordered low-price tag reproductions from on the internet auction sites that he then resold to unsuspecting victims, as originals, at greatly greater prices.”

And even all those had been low. For instance, an authentic Andy Warhol portray would likely market for hundreds of thousands of bucks. Bouaziz, in accordance to the FBI, sold a person of Warhol’s functions referred to as “Superman,” of which there ended up numerous versions, for just $25,000.

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“I invest in about 200 paintings in auction just about every yr and I guarantee my things. I suggest I am at the rear of my things,” Bouaziz mentioned in a discussion recorded by the FBI. “I’m not purchasing factors that every person has. That’s why you never see them in the other galleries.”

The affidavit does not say how a lot of people today have been victimized. Bouaziz will have a plea listening to on June 15. No demo day has been scheduled. Bouaziz’s short-term attorney did not promptly reply to an e-mail looking for remark Saturday.

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The Linked Press contributed to this write-up.

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