Florida gallery owner charged with peddling fake art pieces

Donna B. Jones


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida gallery operator has been arrested on federal costs for peddling phony artwork parts, declaring the cheap reproductions were in point originals by Andy Warhol, Banksy, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat and others, federal prosecutors reported.

A complaint filed in South Florida federal courtroom Thursday accuses Palm Beach front art supplier Daniel Elie Bouaziz of mail fraud, wire fraud, and revenue laundering in his alleged plan to market forged copies of high-conclude art.

Bouaziz, a French citizen of Algerian descent, was ordered introduced on $500,000 bail just after an original listening to Friday. He has not however entered a plea to the costs, according to court records. He could confront numerous years in prison if convicted.

Bouaziz bought some of the forged art parts for hundreds of hundreds of pounds apiece, prosecutors claimed in a news release. An FBI criminal affidavit claimed undercover agents place $22 million down for numerous of the phony items.

Professing to be an art skilled and an official appraiser, Bouaziz appraised the inauthentic artwork he offered to the victims at an increased level, the FBI affidavit claimed. To give one example, the FBI says Bouaziz acquired a Warhol replica print for $100 and offered it for $85,000.

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

“The FBI did not observe a solitary transaction in all those accounts in which Bouaziz or his galleries bought high-benefit artwork,” the affidavit claims. “Bouaziz procured reduced-expense reproductions from on line auction internet sites that he then resold to unsuspecting victims, as originals, at significantly enhanced prices.”

And even all those had been small. For case in point, an first Andy Warhol portray would most likely provide for millions of pounds. Bouaziz, in accordance to the FBI, offered 1 of Warhol’s is effective referred to as “Superman,” of which there were various variations, for just $25,000.

“I acquire about 200 paintings in auction each individual 12 months and I warranty my stuff. I signify I am guiding my stuff,” Bouaziz reported in a conversation recorded by the FBI. “I’m not purchasing matters that all people has. That’s why you really do not see them in the other galleries.”

The affidavit does not say how quite a few individuals have been victimized. Bouaziz will have a plea listening to on June 15. No demo day has been scheduled. Bouaziz’s temporary legal professional did not straight away reply to an e mail searching for remark Saturday.

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