Tuesday, March 06, 2007

TV Art Scam

The Los Angeles Times reports today on a married couple who face jail time after admitting to using their television auction business to defraud buyers out of more than $20 million by selling fake artworks and forging the signatures of Picasso, Chagall, and Dali, among others:

"[T]heir operation involved the television show 'Fine Arts Treasures Gallery,' shown ... on channels broadcast by Direct TV and the Dish Network. They told investigators they rigged the auctions by creating false and inflated bids for art and jewelry sold during the live auctions. The two also admitted ... that they purchased fake art and forged copies at their print shop, then sold the bogus works on the television show. Further, they admitted to sending customers false certificates of authenticity and false appraisals. In all, the government estimated the show defrauded more than 10,000 people who paid more than $20 million for the fake art and jewelry."

Bill Gusky has some advice for would-be buyers: "Now ask yourself this, in all seriousness: could there possibly be that many signed Picasso, Chagall and Dali prints laying around, and at satellite TV prices?"