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April 22, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - No comments

Knoedler Gallery and Julian Weissman Fine Art: Spanish Art Fraud Suspects to fight US Extradition Request in Spain as US Federal Indictment is Unsealed

By Lynda Albertson, ARCA's CEO

United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preetinder Singh "Preet" Bharara; George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Shantelle P. Kitchen, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation division, have unsealed a 12 count indictment charging Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz, Jesus Angel Bergantiños Diaz, and Pei-Shen Qian with orchestrating a $33 million scheme to create and sell fake masterpieces by artists including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Motherwell.  The indictment outlines that these works were instead created by Pei-Shen Qian.

 A copy of the indictment outlining the charges against all three defendants is listed here.

Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz was arrested in Seville on Friday, April 18, 2014 at hotel NH Viapol in the Andalusian capital after his name registered with an outstanding detainment request from US authorities.  Jose Carlos'  brother was arrested in Lugo.  Testifying remotely from Seville and directly in Madrid before Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu of Spain’s National Court, both brothers refused to give consent to be extradited voluntarily to face charges in the United States.

The Spanish court is expected to rule on the brothers' extradition which must be ratified by Spain's cabinet. In the interim, the judge hearing the case elected to remove their passports and forbade them from leaving Spain.  A copy of the treaty on extradition between the United States of America and Spain can be found here.

Last September,  Mexican-US art dealer Glafira Rosales, entered a guilty plea to nine counts including wire fraud, tax evasion, and knowingly selling fake art before a US federal judge in connection to this case.

You can read more about the background of this case here.

James Moore will be presenting on this case at ARCA's International Art Crime Conference in June.