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April 21, 2011

Quebec law enforcement uncover case of art stolen from Quebec art galleries through the purchase of fraudulent credit cards

Tumulte 1974, Jean-Paul Riopelle, 9,5 x 6,5 po.
Collaboration between the art crime investigative unit of the Sûreté du Québec and the Montreal police has just solved a series of frauds against several art galleries.

On the evening of April 6, 2011, investigators went to a storage area at a home in Quebec, where they seized artworks stolen between July and October of 2010. Works valued at more than $220,000 include artists such as Jean-Paul Riopelle, Sebastien Larouchelle Martin Beaupré, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté and Joan Dumouchel.

According to the investigation, the suspects used credit cards obtained under false identitites to purchase the artworks from galleries around Montreal, Quebec City, and Baie St.-Paul. They managed to convince the merchants to enter into payment installments, paid the first payment by credit card, left with the artwork, and did not pay the remaining installments.

A suspect was arrested on shoplifting at a business in Montreal on Feb. 25. The arrest and subsequent search led to the discovery of a bronze sculpture by artist Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté.

Aissam Freidji, 37, and Margaret Christopoulos, 45, appeared April 7, 2011, at the Montreal courthouse facing charges of fraud and fraudulent use of credit cards. They are accused of using several false identities and may be sought in the United States for similar crimes.

Quebec’s art crime investigation team is composed of officers from the Sûreté du Quebec and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

This information was translated from a press release published by Quebec law enforcement.