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LAPD nabs forged-art dealer

Dec. 28, 2004 at 1:54 PM

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Los Angeles police Tuesday sought the source of forged paintings allegedly sold to unsuspecting buyers by a Southern California physician.

Dr. Vilas Likhite of Orange County was arrested last week in a sting operation in which an Los Angeles police officer posed as a wealthy collector from South Korea.

The Los Angeles Times said Likhite was believed to have sold paintings to collectors that were falsely said to be the works of modern masters such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

The head of the police department's art theft detail told the Times the paintings weren't copies, but rather originals done in the style of the high-profile artists.

An elaborate paper trail of receipts and appraisals was being unraveled and had generated leads pointing to Australia, Boston and Denver.

Likhite allegedly told buyers he had a huge art collection worth $1 billion that he wanted to liquidate without going through an auction house.

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