Florida gallery owner charged with peddling fake art pieces


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida gallery owner has been arrested on federal prices for peddling faux artwork items, claiming the inexpensive reproductions have been in point originals by Andy Warhol, Banksy, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat and some others, federal prosecutors said.

A complaint submitted in South Florida federal courtroom Thursday accuses Palm Seaside art supplier Daniel Elie Bouaziz of mail fraud, wire fraud, and revenue laundering in his alleged plan to market solid copies of higher-stop artwork.

Bouaziz, a French citizen of Algerian descent, was ordered released on $500,000 bail following an preliminary listening to Friday. He has not nevertheless entered a plea to the costs, according to court data. He could deal with quite a few a long time in jail if convicted.

Bouaziz offered some of the cast artwork items for hundreds of hundreds of bucks apiece, prosecutors stated in a news release. An FBI criminal affidavit stated undercover brokers set $22 million down for several of the phony pieces.

Saying to be an artwork qualified and an official appraiser, Bouaziz appraised the inauthentic artwork he sold to the victims at an greater fee, the FBI affidavit said. To give a person illustration, the FBI states Bouaziz purchased a Warhol replica print for $100 and bought it for $85,000.

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

“The FBI did not observe a solitary transaction in these accounts in which Bouaziz or his galleries ordered higher-value artwork,” the affidavit says. “Bouaziz purchased very low-charge reproductions from online auction web sites that he then resold to unsuspecting victims, as originals, at drastically improved price ranges.”

And even all those ended up low. For instance, an primary Andy Warhol painting would possible sell for thousands and thousands of bucks. Bouaziz, in accordance to the FBI, marketed a single of Warhol’s operates known as “Superman,” of which there have been numerous versions, for just $25,000.

“I get about 200 paintings in auction just about every yr and I warranty my stuff. I mean I am guiding my stuff,” Bouaziz reported in a discussion recorded by the FBI. “I’m not purchasing points that everybody has. That’s why you do not see them in the other galleries.”

The affidavit does not say how lots of men and women ended up victimized. Bouaziz will have a plea hearing on June 15. No demo day has been scheduled. Bouaziz’s short term attorney did not promptly answer to an electronic mail looking for comment Saturday.

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