A Los Angeles man faces federal charges for identity theft and art fraud after attempting to sell fake artwork. The man sold paintings he claimed were created by modern artists, including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
According to investigators, the man acquired fake artwork, then forged certificates of authenticity. He purchased embossers to make it appear as though the artwork was authenticated by the estates of the artists, all of whom are dead. The man sold one such painting in 2017 for $50,000 through a website devoted to art sales. About a year later, the work was positively determined to be fake. The website refunded the buyer the full purchase amount.
The man also used the fake artwork as collateral for loans. After receiving the money from lenders, he defaulted on the loans. When the lender attempted to sell the work at auction, the auction house determined that the piece was a fake.
In 2015, the man “donated” a fake piece to a charity, then claimed a write-off on his taxes. The write-off allowed the man to collect an income tax refund of about $55,000. He also claimed that other artwork had been stolen from his home, resulting in additional tax write-offs.
He has agreed to plead guilty to fraud, aggravated identity theft and tax fraud. He could be sentenced to as much as 25 years in prison when he returns to court for sentencing. He also faces a similar set of charges in the State of Florida.
Federal identity theft attorney
When you face charges of identity theft, hire an experienced identity theft lawyer like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has 35 years of experience in criminal defense. He takes identity theft cases in any US District Court. He takes state-level cases in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California.
Your best defense begins with an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney. Mr. Helfend manages every case personally, so you will always have the benefit of his experience. Although federal prosecutors are aggressive, they’re not invincible. Don’t assume that your best option is a plea deal!
Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (310) 456-3317, (818) 591-2809 or (805) 273-5611 for an immediate consultation on your Los Angeles County identity theft case.
Photo Credit: rocor, via Flickr.com