Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Scam Doctor

The Maine Antique Digest has a (very) lengthy piece on Vilas Vishwan Likhite, the 67-year-old former Harvard Medical School professor who was recently convicted and sentenced to a year in jail for attempting to sell fake Cassatt drawings. Towards the end, the article raises the interesting question of what should happen to all the other (presumably) fake art in his possession, correctly noting that, in general, "no court, after an art fraud trial, decrees that fake art must be destroyed or even labeled as bogus. A con artist is free to try it on new people." But it sounds like the prosecutor here may try to take a more aggressive tack with at least some of the works: "prosecutor Catherine Chon said, 'You can't seize property from a defendant because you feel he's going to commit crimes with it. But I think this is a little different, in that we know what his intent was, at least in terms of the artworks that he brought to the hotel.' We asked if Likhite's attempts to sell the art essentially converted it into contraband, which, like illegal drugs, can be confiscated and destroyed. 'Basically,' she said."