NYC painting scam raked in $80 million

Aug. 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A struggling Chinese artist mimicked the style of celebrated artists in paintings sold as authentic by an art dealer in New York, a federal indictment alleges.

The indictment accuses Glafira Rosales of peddling the fraudulent artworks to elite Manhattan dealers and galleries, money laundering and tax evasion in sales amounting to more than $80 million, The New York Times reported Friday.

The indictment doesn't name the painter, but sources close to the case told the Times it was Pei-Shen Qian, an artist working out of his home in Queens.

Rosales' boyfriend and fellow art dealer, Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz discovered Qian in the early 1990s selling his artwork on the streets of lower Manhattan. Diaz recruited Qian to create paintings and drawings in the style of well-known Abstract Expressionists, passing them off as newly discovered works, the court papers allege.

Qian's neighbors said they often saw a man arriving at his home in an expensive car, carrying in paintings.

"He would bring a painting in and show it to him, for him to work on or fix up something," said Edwin Gardiner, 68, who lives across the street. "I don't know what he did with it."

The indictment alleged Qian used those artworks as models to churn out at least 63 drawings and paintings bearing the signatures of the likes of Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell and Richard Diebenkorn.

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