Showing posts with label art fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art fraud. Show all posts

February 1, 2014

Ellen Gammerman Reports in The Wall Street Journal "Collector Alleges Art Fraud"

WSJ: This Picasso Painting, 'Two Women at a Bar,'
is among the works named in Mr. Edelman's court filings.
2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York/The Gallery Collection/Corbis
Ellen Gammerman in The Wall Street Journal reports in "Collector Alleges Art Fraud" (January 31):
New York art collector and dealer Asher Edelman on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Swiss company Artmentum, claiming his art-financing firm was the victim of a fraudulent deal involving the proposed sale of more than 100 works by masters such as Picasso, Monet, van Gogh and Matisse. The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court and seeking $204 million, alleges that ArtAssure, Mr. Edelman's firm, was wrongly led to believe by Artmentum and its associates last spring that Japan's Hiroshima Art Museum was trying to sell roughly $400 million in art by masters from the late 19th- and early 20th centuries. The complaint alleges the art was never actually for sale, and the financial details provided by Artmentum about the collection—including that the Hiroshima Bank owned the museum works and the Japanese government owned the majority interest in Hiroshima Bank—were false.
The $204 million figure represents the profits ArtAssure would have made in the sale of all the works, Mr. Edelman said, adding that he never actually handed money over to Artmentum for any paintings. In addition, he said he lost "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in staff time spent investigating the deal. Some art lawyers didn't see the sum as realistic. "In my view, the damages which are requested are absurd because I don't see how he was really hurt," said New York art lawyer Peter R. Stern. 
Mr. Edelman, 74 years old, is a former corporate raider who has generated controversy in the past for his defense of his art interests. He entered the field of art finance roughly four years ago after spending decades as an art collector, museum director and gallery owner.

January 11, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014 - ,, No comments

José Manuel Lluent presenting second edition of "Looting and Fraud in Art" January 15 in Barcelona

Information provided by Oblyon

José Manuel Lluent will present the second edition of "Looting and Fraud in Art" at 7 p.m. on January 15 at Oblyon's headquarters in Barcelona. The event will be attended by Lluent, the author of the book; Marco Mercanti (Founder and CEO of Oblyon); Jesús Gálvez Pantoja (head of the investigation unit of the Civil Guard); Mariano Costoso (Regional Deputy of Cultural Heritage in Catalonia) and Joan Cifuentes Mesa (from the central theft unit and cultural heritage protection of the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalonian local police law enforcement body).
The event will take place at the Barcelona headquarters of Oblyon, an art advisory firm. Due to Mr. Mercanti’s professional background in law at Oblyon we specially care about the protection of our cultural heritage and believe all professionals working in the field of art should be aware of the existing problems and cooperate in the fight against art crimes. This is why we like to collaborate in the presentation of Lluent’s book, an important tool for information and diffusion of this topic.
Book review

The author analyses and thoroughly gives details on matters revolving around art fraud and looting, giving an overview on the legislation that applies to those issues in order to be able to fight the phenomenon in an easy and transparent way. Current laws to fight art crime are scattered amongst the different legal administrations, both local and national as well as the ones linking Spain to other international organizations with jurisdiction in this matter, thus the effort made by the author to methodologically put them all together in one book make it a reference work for all the professionals in this area.


José Manuel Lluent was born in León, Spain in 1945. He studied at Escola de la Llotja in Barcelona (School of Art and Design) and at Groupe IESA in Paris (Superior Institute of Arts). After completing his studies he furthered his art expertise through the creation of ASART. One of the firms main specialization is the documentation and provenance of artworks.  Specializing in the fight against fraud and spoliation in art, Lluent has worked with the group Grupo de Delitos contra el Patrimonio Histórico and Interpol.

Lluent has also collaborated with Scotland Yard introducing the identification system SGS-INART, as well as with the Ministry of Culture in Spain and France and has cooperated in identification tasks of artworks from the Vatican collection.

Date: January 15th, 2014
Time: 19:00
Place: Oblyon Headquarters, Portaferrissa 7, Pral. 1, 080, Barcelona (Spain).

December 5, 2013

Thursday, December 05, 2013 - ,, 1 comment

"The Crime That Pays? The Canadian Print Media's Construction of Art Fraud, 1978-2012" authored by Josh and Adie Nelson in the Fall 2013 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Josh and Adie Nelson authored "The Crime That Pays? The Canadian Print Media’s Construction of Art Fraud, 1978-2012" in the Fall 2013 issue of The Journal of Art Crime. From the abstract:
This article examines the Canadian print media’s construction of art fraud from January 1978 until December 2012. Our content analysis of N=386 articles reveals that art fraud was portrayed as a low-risk crime that pays and as a “victimless” crime. In contrast to conventional crime news, which is situated in the front portions of newspapers, articles on art fraud were most often positioned in sections devoted to “entertainment.” The media’s portrayal of art fraud as a phenomenon that was more entertaining than vexatious resonated in its portrayal of offenders as charming rogues and artful dodgers, with the most notorious of offenders depicted as heroes, and in its casting of victims as fools or “legitimate” victims. This peculiar construction would seem to offer considerable inducements for schadenfreude, a revelling in the misfortunes of others.
From the article's introduction:  
Examinations of the “professional imperatives” (Chibnall, 1977: 23) that guide press reporting on crime have repeatedly suggested the folly of supposing that these dicta encourage a faithful rendering of the incidence and dynamics of crime. Thus, in emphasizing that journalists are tasked daily with producing a “certain quantity of what is called ‘news’,” Breed’s (1955) classic study suggested how this role obligation could catalyze a “persistent search in the drab episodes of city life for the romantic and picturesque, its dramatic accounts of victim and crime” (see also crime: e.g., Ericson, Baranek & Chan, 1987, 1989, 1991; Hugill, 2010; Katz, 1987; Peelo, 2006; Rajiva & Batacharya, 2010). While the frenetic quality of this quest may have abated in more recent eras with the rise of “supermarket journalism” (Mawby, 2010a, 2010b; McGovern, 2010) and the concomitant ability of journalists to “simply ‘buy’ their stories off the shelf from the press offices that are responsible for ‘managing the media’ about a particular crime or event” (Wilson, 2011), journalism’s cynical mantra, “if it bleeds, it leads,” continues to resonate both its disdain for coverage of the mundane and prosaic and rapt readiness to endow statistically atypical incidents with especial lustre. As Reiner (2002: 307) observed in his commentary upon the news media’s tendency to position the extraordinary as ordinary, “[f]rom the earliest studies (e.g., Harris 1932) onward, analyses of news reports have found that crimes of violence are featured disproportionately compared to their incidence in official statistics. Indeed, a general finding has been the lack of relationship between patterns and trends in crime news and crime statistics.”
Josh Nelson is a graduate student at the University of Guelph in the department of art history & visual culture and, beginning in September, 2013, a doctoral student in art history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His doctoral research addresses a criminal event that the Canadian print media early and, ostensibly enduringly, dubbed the “Great Canadian art fraud”; it examines the social context in which this highly-publicized incident emerged in media reports of the early 1960s, was weighted with significance, framed as portentous and defined as a “crime against culture.”

Adie Nelson received her PhD at the London School of Economics and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology & Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo. She is the author/co-author/editor/co-editor of approximately two dozen books and her writings have appeared in journals such as the British Journal of Sociology, Psychology of Women Quarterly, the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Qualitative Sociology and the International Review of Victimology.

Design for this issue and all issues of The Journal of Art Crime is the work of Urška Charney.

Here's a link to ARCA's website on The Journal of Art Crime (includes Table of Contents for previous issues).

August 21, 2013

2013 ARCA Art and Cultural Heritage Conference: Senior Police Inspector Toby Bull on “Property of a Hong Kong Gentleman, Art Crime in Hong Kong – Buyer Beware”

Toby Bull
ARCA’s Art and Cultural Heritage Conference (June 21-23, 2013), held in the ancient Umbrian town of Amelia, began with cocktails for presenters and students at Palazzo Farrattini on Friday evening. The next morning, The conference opened at the Chiostro Boccarini with an introduction to a panel moderated by Marc Balcells Magrans, a Fulbright scholar and criminal lawyer.

Toby Bull, a Senior Inspector with the Hong Kong Police Force since 1993, presented “Property of a Hong Kong Gentleman, Art Crime in Hong Kong – Buyer Beware”. Mr. Bull, a Fine Arts graduate, art historian and a qualified art authentication expert, recently founded TrackArt, an Art Risk Consultancy based in Hong Kong. In 1996, he attained detective status and is currently working within the Marine Police, whose role in the main is in dealing with anti-smuggling. The Hong Kong Police Force has no art crime squad, but has given Mr. Bull permission to lecture and do art consultancy work through his private consulting firm. Mr. Bull has been one of ARCA’s longest supporters and, like many of the lecturers & presenters on the course, was one of the contributors to ARCA’s first book, Art & Crime: Exploring the dark side of the art world edited, by Noah Charney.

Inspector Bull discussed the black-market antiquities trade and the free port of Hong Kong, often used as a ‘way station for much of China’s exported artifacts on their journey to collections abroad:

Looted antiquities are typically smuggled across porous borders, often acquiring fictitious provenance along the way. Documents claiming false authenticity and providing assurances that the items have not been looted, as well as outright fakes of antiquities are also common occurrences.

The worldwide popularity and high prices for Chinese archaeological artifacts have encouraged illegal excavation and smuggling of cultural property. Although Chinese authorities have intensified their efforts to crack down on smuggling and illicit excavation, it continues practically unabated. This huge demand for Chinese cultural artifacts has caused serious damaged to China’s cultural heritage.

Inspector Bull described the extent of the problem of looted artifacts in Hong Kong and the issue of fakes. He also raised the question as to whether or not “greater due diligence or some form of regulation amongst the local dealers could be brought in to help diminish and eventually stop the trade in illicit antiquities.”

According to Inspector Bull, criminal networks know how to move stolen art or illicitly dug-up antiquities because they already have the knowledge of the best ‘routes’ to get the illicit merchandise across the HK border, thanks in large part to their experience from drug trafficking.

"The idea that these are art-loving criminals is risible, as they are only interested in the money that comes from their various nefarious activities," Inspector Bull said. "The trade in antiquities (be they real or fake) is part of highly organized criminal enterprise structures. The people perpetrating these crimes are your commonplace criminals – no more, no less, but businessmen too, as they have realized that there is still a lot of money to be made in this type of trafficking and far less harsh penalties if caught than with drugs, for example. China is a source nation, bleeding its cultural heritage to the rich market nations. Tomb robbing in China involving diggers, equipment, and fences (middleman to sell the objects) and requires a multi-layered network.

High priced art is even used as a tool in bribing officials in China, according to Bull. "In 1997, many art dealers fled Hong Kong fearing the change of sovereignty, believing the harsh and strict export embargo of the Chinese system would be applied to Hong Kong and kill the trade," he said. "Once the announcement was made that Chinese laws on the protection of art relics would not be applied to Hong Kong (the world’s 3rd busiest cargo port), business carried on unabated with the reputation for Hong Kong being the place to buy Chinese artifacts and antiquities solidified.

However, that brings with it the problems of Hong Kong being a Freeport: “If it’s (the artifact) not proven to be stolen, objects can be legally exported, changing from illicit to licit,” Inspector Bull said. “Once entered into auction catalogues, the objects are often shown to be from a private collection in Hong Kong.”

Inspector Bull highlighted the problematical way that the police regard art crime and their lack of proper referencing within databases, making true statistics nigh on impossible to get; a frustrating fact for any criminologist looking to study this subject. Other incidents of art crime involve fake authenticity certificates for objects; smuggling paintings back into China to avoid taxes; and smuggling of fake objects. Inspector Bull also explained the correlation between art crime and money laundering and "the surprising, but sad fact", of how Hong Kong was woefully under prepared and at risk – despite its reputation as a top international finance sector with very tough anti-money laundering measures in place for the financial sector (just not for the totally unregulated art sector).

Inspector Bull conducted some of his own original research: “Out of 25 mainstream galleries in the main antiques area of Hollywood Road in Hong Kong, only four returned a 14-question survey questionnaire about the condition of the art market – and even those four that did answer did so with rather spurious replies,” Inspector Bull said. “There is absolutely no interest from the art trade to self-regulate, nor is there any lead from the Government to clamp down (or even recognize) the problem. There is simply too much money at stake. The Hong Kong Government is now looking to make the city an ‘art hub’ – seen by the recent arrival of the mega Art Basel exhibition in May. There is a real danger that more genuine smuggled pieces will find their way in Hong Kong, as well as more fakes flooding the market”.

With this in mind, one of the aims of TrackArt  is education to the art market & those closely tied to it to highlight the problems that were addressed in Inspector Bull’s insightful and entertaining presentation : he had brought with him from Hong Kong a “1st Class Fake” of a Tang Dynasty ceramic horse bought especially for its inconsistencies by Bull to be used as a lecture prop and which was passed around the audience – showing, indeed, the dangers of buying Chinese antiquities in Hong Kong. "Buyer Beware! Yes, most definitely."

July 5, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring/Summer 2012: Duncan Chappell and Saskia Hufnagel on "The Beltracchi Affair: A Comment on the "Most Spectacular" German Art Forgery Case in Recent Times

Australian criminologist Duncan Chappell and Dr. Saskia Hufnagel write on "The Beltracchi Affair: A Comment on the  "Most Spectacular" German Art Forgery Case in Recent Times" in the Spring/Summer 2012 electronic issue of The Journal of Art Crime (now available by subscription).
Abstract: On the 27th of October 2011 the four persons accused of the ‘most spectacular’ art forgery case in German post-war history were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 21 months to 6 years. The accused were Wolfgang Beltracchi (61), the painter of the forged works; his wife Helene Beltracchi (53) and her sister Jeanette Spurzem (54) who helped him in various ways; and the ‘logistical expert’ in the case, Otto Schulte-Kellinghaus (68). Considering the financial damage the forger group had caused, the embarrassment of buyers, dealers, experts and auction houses, as well as the considerable publicity the trial incurred, this seemed a remarkably mild verdict. However, observing the way in which art forgers at large appear to be dealt with by the justice systems of various countries, it could be said that the case just confirms a reoccurring pattern of lenient sentencing. This article will examine the case and its repercussions.
Duncan Chappell is a lawyer, criminologist and former Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology. He is also the Chair of the Australian Research Council’s Center of Excellence in Policing and Security. Currently an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney he has researched and published on art crime as well as acting as an expert in art crime cases. His recent publications include Manacorda, S. and Chappell, D. Crime in the Art and Antiquities World. Illegal Trafficking in Cultural Property (New York: Springer, 2011).

Saskia Hufnagel is a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security (CEPS), Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. Her PhD studies were completed at the Australian National University (ANU) on the topic ‘Comparison of EU and Australian cross-border law enforcement strategies.’ Her current work focuses on comparing legal frameworks in Australia and the EU, particularly in the fields of mass gatherings, surface transport, maritime and aviation security. She conducts further research in the field of EU and Australian police cooperation and more specifically the policing of art crime. Her publications include 114 ‘Cross-border police co-operation: Traversing domestic and international frontiers’ (2011) Crim LJ 333 and she co-edited ‘Cross-border Law Enforcement - Regional Law Enforcement Cooperation - European, Australian and Asia-Pacific Perspectives’ (2011) Routledge. Saskia is a qualified German legal professional and accredited specialist in criminal law.

March 20, 2012

Art Fraudster John Drewe Jailed for 8 Years Following Real Estate Fraud Trial in Norwich

Christine Cunningham reported for the Evening News on March 12 that John Drewe, 64, convicted in 1999 of art fraud, was jailed for eight years after his conviction for fraud by the Norwich Crown Court for stealing 240,000 sterling pounds from a retired music teacher in an attempt to steal her home and life savings.  You can read the article here.

Ms. Cunningham writes that the court heard that Drewe had been convicted more than a dozen years ago of "conspiracy to defraud, forgery and theft, involving a major art fraud and was jailed for six years."

Andrew Levy for the Daily Mail reports that Drewe used the stolen money to purchase luxury cars and "to pay off his son's debts":

Drewe had been jailed in 1999 for masterminding one of the biggest art frauds of the century. He made £1.8million by commissioning paintings and passing them off as rediscovered works by major artists.
Using the forgeries made by John Myatt, Drewe sold 200 fake original artworks. John Myatt, who's own website claims Myatt "was involved in the biggest art con in the UK", now sells "legitimate fakes" and claims his life will be the subject of movies and television shows.

Noah Charney wrote about John Drewe's activities in the Fall 2010 Journal of Art Crime in his column Lessons from the History of Art Crime "The Art World Wants to be Deceived: Issues in Authentication and Inauthentication":
John Myatt and John Drewe created false documents to act as provenance for the forged paintings they created, and then inserted them into real archives, so that diligent researchers would "discover" them and link them to the forged paintings.

At ARCA's International Art Crime Conference in Amelia last summer (2011), Peter Watson, author of numerous books including The Medici Conspiracy and Sotheby's the Inside Story, in a discussion titled "Some Unpublished and Unpalatable Details about Recent Art Crimes", said that John Drewe had once been suspected of burning down a house that killed a Hungarian lodger.

If John Drewe serves his full jail sentence, he will be able to pursue other opportunities at the age of 72.

March 16, 2012

CNBC's "American Greed" on "Fine Art: Portrait of Fraud -- the story of Kristine Eubanks, Jimmy Mobley and "Fine Art Treasures Gallery" and Certificates of Authentication

By Angela Kumar, ARCA Class of 2011

CNBC’s American Greed aired Fine Art: Portrait of Fraud at 10 p.m. on Wednesday night.   This episode told the story of Los Angeles entrepreneur Kristine Eubanks, owner of Finer Image Editions, who in 1995 used the then-new technology, the glicée printer, to reproduce artworks and sell them to Princess Cruise Lines. Eubanks later launched “Fine Art Treasures Gallery”, a nationally televised auction of “rare” and “authentic” artworks advertised as signed by artists such as Rembrandt, Picasso, Chagall and Dali, all offered at a fraction of their market value. Eubanks along with her husband and auctioneer, Jimmy Mobley, duped thousands of viewers and scored millions on fake artworks.

Los Angeles Police Department's Art Theft Detail Detective Don Hrycyk and the FBI’s Art Crime Team Special Agent Christopher Calarco are interviewed.

A preview of the program, as well as “extras” including videos of Detective Hrycyk speaking about forged Certificates of Authenticity and Special Agent Calarco explaining how the Bureau’s Art Crime Team was created, can be found here.

Additional episodes related to art crime can be found on CNBC’s website and include the following:

Season 1
Two Maxfield Parrish paintings -- worth $4 million -- vanish into the night!
A museum quality art collection worth more than $4 million dollars is stolen!

Season 2
A dark night. A clever plan. $300 million in art is stolen from a Boston museum. Paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Manuet disappear into the night!
Enter the mysterious world of art fraud. An elaborate sting operation exposes Dr. Vilas Likhite....a doctor stripped of his medical license who begins a new career as a con man selling fake art treasures!
He's an art collector, the former chairman of Sotheby's and a convicted felon. Alfred Taubman takes us inside the price-fixing scandal at Christie's and Sotheby's.

February 23, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Fall 2011: John Daab on "Flouting the Law through Fine and Decorative Art Appraising"

The Fall 2011 issue of The Journal of Art Crime features an academic article by returning contributor John Daab.
ABSTRACT: In appraising fine and decorative art, there are standards available in carrying out the process. The Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice were developed to protect the appraiser, client, and the public against bad appraisals. Over the last 5 years appraisals filed with the Internal Revenue Service have a hit rate of about 30-40%. That is, the 23 IRS Art Panel reviewers made up of experts in the field of art have found over the last 5 years the 500 or so appraisals filed for donations, estates, or capital gains/losses failed to satisfy USPAP or legal standards required for an IRS qualified appraisal in at least 6 to 7 out of every 10 cases. The significant point is that those bad appraisals, not reviewed, are costing the public millions of dollars in tax dollars. Further, appraisal violations not only cost the appraiser in terms of penalties, but the client has to pay unnecessary interest costs and penalties as well. This article looks at the history of the appraisal process, its structures, the expectations of an appraisal in violation of the standards, the liabilities associated with an appraisal in violation of the standards and laws, and those factors lending themselves in the promotion of fraudulent appraising. From the analysis the article offers suggestions to hold back the spate of poorly developed appraisals.
John Daab is a Certified Fraud Examiner specializing in art and forgery research through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. A Certified Forensics Consultant and Accredited Forensic Counselor, he is also a Registered Investigator with the American College of Forensic Examiners International. His academic credentials include a BA,/MA Philosophy, MBA Business, MPS/Industrial Counseling, MA Labor Studies and a PhD in Business Administration. John has also completed New York University’s Fine and Decorative Art Appraisal Program and is completing a docent program at Princeton University. He is a member of the National Sculpture Society, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute, Association for Research in Crimes Against Art, and The Fine Art Registry. In addition to his awards for teaching management and service to NYU, John has published more than 70 articles and authored, The Art Fraud Protection Handbook. Having recently completed a second book, Forensic Applications in Detecting Fine, Decorative, and Collectible Art Fakes and is now working on his third book on the Business of Art.

You may subscribe to The Journal of Art Crime through the ARCA website here.

September 16, 2011


Mathew Taylor (LAPD Art Theft Detail)
Press Release from the US Attorney's Office for Central District of California

by Thom Mrozek, Public Affairs Officer

LOS ANGELES – A Florida man was arrested this morning pursuant to a federal indictment that alleges he sold paintings stolen from a Los Angeles art gallery, and that he had sold forged artworks to a collector with false claims that they had been painted by esteemed artists.

Matthew Taylor, 43, of Vero Beach, Florida, was arrested without incident this morning by special agents with the FBI. Taylor, who formerly worked as an art dealer, is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Fort Pierce, Florida.

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Taylor last week on seven felony charges related to art theft and a long-running fraud that targeted a Los Angeles art collector.

The indictment charges Taylor with defrauding the art collector victim out of millions of dollars by selling him forged art works. Taylor allegedly sold the collector more than 100 paintings – including paintings that he falsely claimed were by artists such as Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko – for a total of more than $2 million. The indictment alleges that Taylor altered paintings from unknown artists to make them appear to be the products of famous artists, and then sold the bogus artwork to the victim at prices exponentially higher than their actual worth.

To conceal the true nature of the paintings, Taylor allegedly put forged on the paintings and painted over or otherwise concealed signatures from the actual artists. The indictment also alleges that Taylor created and put onto the paintings fake labels which falsely represented that the artworks were once part of prestigious art collections at famous museums, including those of the Museum of Modern Art in the New York and the Guggenheim Museum.

Stolen: "Park Scene, Paris"
$20,000 Lucien Frank painting 
Regarding the alleged art heists, the indictment accuses Taylor of stealing a Granville Redmond painting called “Seascape at Twilight” from a gallery in Los Angeles. Taylor later sold that painting to a different gallery for $85,000, falsely claiming that his mother had owned it for several years. The indictment also alleges that Taylor stole a separate artwork – a painting by Lucien Frank titled “Park Scene, Paris” – from the same gallery in Los Angeles. Taylor was seen several years later in possession of the stolen Lucien Frank painting at a gallery in Vero Beach.

The indictment further alleges that Taylor laundered and transferred across state lines some of the proceeds from his fraud on the collector victim – specifically, $105,000 that Taylor had taken from the victim by selling him four forged paintings in September 2006.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

The indictment charges Taylor with three counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering, one count of interstate transportation of stolen property and one count of possession of stolen property. The mail fraud charges each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, and the remaining counts each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years. Therefore, if he is convicted of all seven counts in the indictment, Taylor faces a maximum possible sentence of 100 years in federal prison.

Based on evidence collected throughout this case, investigators believe there are additional victims of art fraud related to Taylor’s activities. Individuals who purchased art from Taylor and believe they may have been defrauded should contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Los Angeles at (310) 477-6565 or the Los Angeles Police Department’s Art Theft Detail at (213) 486-6940.

The ongoing investigation into Taylor is being conducted by the FBI’s Art Crime Team, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Art Theft Detail, and IRS - Criminal Investigation.

You may read more about this case on the LAPD Art Theft Detail website.

More information about the $20,000 Lucien Frank painting that is still outstanding may be found here.

August 22, 2011

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2011: John Daab on "The Case of the Questionable Jeffersonian Lafites: Forensic Applications in Detecting Wine Fraud"

In the fifth issue of The Journal of Art Crime (Spring 2011), John Daab, a Certified Fraud Examiner specializing in art and forgery research, has written on "The Case of the Questionable Jeffersonian Lafites: Forensic Applications in Detecting Wine Fraud". Mr. Daab writes in the article’s abstract:
Keys noted that the earliest manufacture of wine took place around 8000 BC. Robinson (2006) said that Pliny the Elder remarked that wine adulteration had reached a point in 1st century Rome that wine was no longer worth drinking. Although the tinkering with the grape has been with us since early Rome, wine fraud cases have seen an upsurge due to increases in demand not only for wine for the family table wine, but for historic collectibles found in the cellars of the wine connoisseur (Robinson, 2006). Wine fakers cost consumers, suppliers, and collectible connoisseurs millions of dollars a year. They use humidification; blending and stretching; substitution of low quality for expensive quality; and many other forms of fakery. This fakery is not only costly to the consumer but has led to cases of serious injury and death (Henry, 1986). This article addresses the fakes, how they are processed, and forensic applications used to detect and indentify the bogus mix.
Dr. John Daab is a Certified Fraud Examiner specializing in art and forgery research with Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and a Certified Forensics Consultant, Accredited Forensic Counselor and a Registered Investigator with the American College of Forensic Examiners International. John holds Diplomate status (DABFE) with the American Board of Forensic Examiners and holds Certified Homeland Security I (CHS-1) and Certified Intelligence Analyst (IAC) member status with the American Board of Certification in Homeland Security.

An academic with various undergraduate and graduate degrees from philosophy to business with a focus on art authentication, John is a sculptor who works can be seen on the Fine Art Registry (his works can be seen in his FAR online portfolio). He has published more than 100 articles and recently authored, "The Art Fraud Protection Handbook" (Kindle Edition). He has a credential from New York University in Fine and Decorative Arts Appraisal. He completed the docent program at Princeton. His second book is "Forensic Application in Detecting Fine, Decorative, and Collectible Art Fakes" (Kindle Edition). He is developing a third book on the "Business of Art."

January 28, 2011

The Journal of Art Crime: Contributor John Daab on Art Fraud

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

The Journal of Art Crime’s fourth issue dated Fall 2010 includes an academic article, “Art Fraud: Deflecting Prosecutorial Intervention Away from the Defective Art Product,” by John Daab, a Certified Fraud Examiner specializing in art and forgery research. Mr. Daab writes in the article’s abstract:
“Historically, art crime consisted of looting, stealing, and burglarizing museums and creating art forgeries, to name a few. Scholars have recently broken down the category into street and white-collar art crime types. For example, the common museum burglaries fall under the street type while art forgery and art fraud are found in the white-collar realm. The notoriety of the break in is hyped by the mass media in their various presentations. Art crimes of this sort are definite, often leaving a trail. Ultimately, the culprits are captured by tips or forensic examination such as fingerprints, burglar tool matching, and so on. In the case of art fraud or forgery, which Starnes has characterized as the “invisible crime,” such definitiveness or clarity of criminal act is often missing (2002). Such indivisibility combined with factors hindering prosecution allows the art criminal to push the envelope to the point that this form of white-collar crime becomes a non-crime. The study below offers an identification of the factors and the consequences surrounding white-collar art crime, leading to a suggestion that art fraud is a gold mine for the white-collar criminal.”
Dr. John Daab is a Certified Fraud Examiner specializing in art and forgery research with Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and a Certified Forensics Consultant, Accredited Forensic Counselor and a Registered Investigator with the American College of Forensic Examiners International. John holds Diplomate status (DABFE) with the American Board of Forensic Examiners and holds Certified Homeland Security I (CHS-1) and Certified Intelligence Analyst (IAC) member status with the American Board of Certification in Homeland Security.

An academic with various undergraduate and graduate degrees from philosophy to business with a focus on art authentication, John is a sculptor who works can be seen on the Fine Art Registry (his works can be seen in his FAR online portfolio). He has published more than 80 articles and recently authored, "The Art Fraud Protection Handbook" (Kindle Edition). He is currently completing studies in Art Appraisal at New York University, completing a docent program at Princeton, and has completed a second book, "Forensic Application in Detecting Fine, Decorative, and Collectible Art Fakes" (Kindle Edition). He is developing a third book on the "Business of Art."

ARCA blog: John, in your article, you study the way Ely Sakhai processed his frauds and comment: “Over the 13-year period it is alleged that 12 million dollars in forgeries were sold with many still in the hands of the unwary.” He was charged in federal court with wire and mail fraud and received four years in jail. Were you surprised?
Dr. Daab: I was surprised that Sakai was prosecuted. White collar crime is rarely prosecuted. I was not surprised how the prosecution was processed. Most art fraud prosecution usually ends up under the wire and mail fraud statutes. Fraud statute violations are difficult to prosecute because of the conditions of intentionality, gain to the fraudster, and loss to the victim usually found as the requirements in the statute. Intentionality is difficult to prove since there are many levels to the processing of the crime. Sifting through all the parties involved takes time and may lead to a total dead end. Prosecuting via the wire and mail fraud statutes is a more efficient method of prosecuting resulting in a higher probability of conviction.
ARCA blog: In your second case study, you describe the art fraud paradigm of selling art of questionable authenticity and value at galleries selling art at sea. No government intervention has taken place according to your article. What do you think it will take to close these dubious practices?
Dr. Daab: I think that selling at sea represents a significant problem for US prosecutorial and probably international agencies since there is an undefined area where the crime takes place, and a difficulty in establishing the conditions for the violation. Lacking this defined area prevents pulling in that prosecutorial agency responsible to charge the alleged criminal, and since consumer protection laws are not operable at sea the conditions supporting the violation are ineffective. Some even argue that the consumers purchasing the art should know better. Supposedly the US policing agencies have cooperative undertakings with foreign governments for crimes at sea, but based on the fact that very few prosecutions have taken place for murder, rape, theft and assaults on board it would be unlikely that any activity will close down the selling of fake art. If the US policing agencies do not go after violent criminals at sea they will certainly not go after art fraudsters.
ARCA blog: Is the term “defective product manufacturer” sufficient to describe what is going on in the art market? How can a buyer feel safe?
Dr. Daab: The art market is an unregulated, uncontrolled and non-transparent market. There is more control over selling used cars than art costing millions of dollars. While there are some organizations like Fine Art Registry focused on vetting fakes, most art is turned over with the assumption that it is genuine. Scholarly investigations have found that art found in some prestigious museums is only 60% authentic. Given that 40% of museum art is of questionable authenticity and surrounded by the foremost art historians and curators, it would be difficult to argue that the art market selling the works of collectible artists lacking this pedigree would hold works of a higher probability of authenticity. I would argue that buyers of art have no safety net in the present art market except to assume that there is a 40% chance that the collectible art one is considering is bogus, and as such maybe one should just walk away from the purchase.
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