“The Confidence, and the Art, Looked Real”

“The Confidence, and the Art, Looked Real”

by Patricia Cohen via “New York Times”

“To many people, the art dealer Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz seemed like an enviable man.  He came to the United States from Spain with his Mexican inamorata, Glafira Rosales, some 30 years ago, barely a dollar in his pocket, and only a few words of English at his command. Soon, he was living life on a grand stage. He bought a fine house in a wealthy New York suburb, opened an art gallery with Ms. Rosales and maintained auction accounts at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.He boasted of a friendship with Andy Warhol, an audience with the pope and his daughter’s violin performance at the Clinton White House. He created a charity that helped the poor and the sick in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and won awards for his humanitarianism.

Behind the curtain, though, federal prosecutors say, Mr. Bergantiños was engaged in a very different sort of enterprise, a daring forgery swindle that fooled the art world and led collectors to spend more than $80 million on dozens of phony masterworks. The marketing of these forgeries, many of them sold through the offices of what was once New York’s oldest gallery, Knoedler & Company, has been among the most stunning art market scandals of the last decade. . . .”

I’ll just bet he’s out of the country; I can’t imagine having the cahoney’s to pull something like this off. And it begs the question of how well Knoedler & Co. were investigating the works they processed. Where are the provenance records, the testing process results, etc.? Were those forged as well, or were they not included in the sale? In this day and age, how were so many forged items passed of?

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