NY art dealer arraigned in $80 million forgery case

New York art dealer Glafira Rosales Courtesy of Yelena Tylkina

A New York art dealer was arraigned Monday on charges of money laundering and wire fraud in connection to what authorities called a scam that involved selling $80 million worth of counterfeit Modernist paintings.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Hernandez said more arrests will be made in the case, The Associated Press reported.

Investigators said works purportedly done by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell were among the counterfeit paintings investigators said Glafira Rosales of Sands Point, N.Y., sold through reputable Manhattan dealers over a 15-year period. 

Forensic testing concluded many of the works were forgeries. 

The dealer sold about 63 works. For about a dozen of those, Rosales claimed she was acting as the broker or agent on behalf of a specific client who, she claimed, was a Spanish collector of art, according to the indictment.

Rosales' boyfriend, alleged to be a co-conspirator, has not been charged. Court papers say he processed the fake works to make them appear older. Rosales pleaded not guilty to the superseding indictment and was released on bail last week.

Hernandez said the case will likely be resolved before trial.

Representatives from Knoedler & Company, an art gallery, and Julian Weissman, a second dealer with whose help Rosales allegedly sold the fake works, said they believed the paintings were authentic, according to The New York Times

The indictment shows Knoedler took in about $63 million from the sale before it closed in November 2011. The works sold through Weissman earned another $17 million. 

Officials did not name or charge the painter, but according to the indictment, he earned $5,400 for a painting in December 2005 and $7,000 for another in February 2008. The Times revealed the artist was Pei-Shen Qian, 73, a Chinese immigrant living in Queens