Home News Stories 2004 March The Case of the Master Forger Scam

The Case of the Master Forger Scam

The Case of the Master Forger Scam
Hijinks in the World of Art

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03/10/04

It took big money, patience, and a wide streak of criminality to pull off.

Here’s one example of the scheme:

1990: Buy the authentic Marc Chagall La Nappe Mauve for $312,000.
1993: Have it copied by an expert forger and sell the forgery for $514,000.
1998: Sell the authentic work of art for $340,000.
GAIN OVER 8 YEARS: $854,000.

Here’s another:

1996: Buy the authentic Gustave Moreau L’Enlevement de Ganymede for $285,000.
1997: Have it copied by an expert forger and sell the forgery for a $55,000 loss
price tag $229,000.
1999: Sell the authentic work of art for a bigger loss
$170,000.
GAIN OVER 3 YEARS: $399,000

And these are just two examples in a much wider scam charged in the criminal complaint. Other paintings include Chagall’s Les Marie au Bouquet de Fleurs and Le Roi David Dans le Paysage Vert; Marie Laurencin’s Jeune Fille a la Mandolin; Paul Gaugin’s Vase de Fleurs (Lilas); and Paul Klee’s Palaste, all pictured.

These are the allegations against a well known New York art dealer, arrested yesterday and charged with two counts of wire fraud and five counts of mail fraud.

The case continues...and we need your help. Please view the following paintings at the FBI Art Theft page spotlight and call the FBI’s Brooklyn-Queens Office if you have any information about their whereabouts or ownerships:

  • Bernard Buffet’s Dahlias (Zinnias in a Vase)
  • Marc Chagall’s La Reve...Rabbi et Torah...Vase de Fleur avec Coq et Lune...La Descente de Croix...L’inspiration a l’artiste...Bouquet au Soleil Jaune...Vase...Vase de Fleurs
  • Moise Kisling’s Nu (Nude)
  • Marie Laurencin’s Portrait of Madame Auclair
  • Claude Monet’s Le Mont Kolsas, Effet de Soleil
  • Rembrandt’s The Apostle James Major
  • Renoir’s Paysage (Landscape)
  • Georges Roualt’s Port Scene (Paysage Negre or Paysage Africain)...Martial
  • Maurice Utrillo’s Eglise de Champagne (Green House)
  • Louis Valtat’s Nature Morte aux Fruits
  • Maurice de Vlaminck’s Bouquet de Fleurs dans un Vase...Environs de Mantes