Florida dealer accused of selling allegedly fake art by Basquiat – ARTnews.com

Federal agents have charged a Palm Beach, Fla. dealer with wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering for selling allegedly fake works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and others for millions of dollars.

Through his Danieli Fine Art and Galerie Danieli galleries, Daniel Elie Bouaziz is said to have sold reproductions of works of art stamped with false seals of authenticity.

A lawsuit filed May 25 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleged that Bouaziz also sold fake works by Banksy, Henri Matisse, Frederick Hundertwasser, Keith Haring, and more.

In several instances, Bouaziz appears to have bought works for relatively small sums and then sold them for significantly higher amounts.

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The most expensive work in the case was a supposedly unnamed painting by Basquiat that Bouaziz allegedly purchased from the LiveAuctioneers website for $495. He then sold it to an undercover FBI agent for $12 million, according to the complaint.

When the agent asked Bouaziz, a French citizen born in Algeria, about the authenticity of the painting, the dealer reportedly said, “The provenance is Basquiat’s father, so there’s not really much conversation about it. The FBI says it contacted a now-defunct former Authentication Committee member of the Basquiat estate, who was not named in the lawsuit, and that this expert said the artwork was a forgery.

An undercover agent also purchased a print by Lichtenstein from Bouaziz titled The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Bouaziz had bought it through LiveAuctioneers for €450 ($485) and sold it for $25,000. According to the lawsuit, a look at Lichtenstein’s catalog raisonné revealed that the actual work had “significantly different” colors as well as other authenticating factors, including a pencil note delineating its edition, which Bouaziz’s work had not.

Federal investigators said some victims of Bouaziz’s alleged scheme contacted the dealer following their purchases, claiming the works they purchased were fakes, and demanded money.

“Other victims, who also reported to Bouaziz concerns about the authenticity of their purchased work, both before and after the gallery’s search warrants were executed, have received reimbursement from Bouaziz,” claims the pursuit.

Bouaziz currently faces four charges, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of between $250,000 and $500,000.

Based on documents filed last weekend in Florida, it was unclear whether Bouaziz had entered a plea. A lawyer for Bouaziz did not immediately respond to request for comment.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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