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'Jesus Wife' Tale Takes a Turn for the Bizarre

Harvard prof backtracks after learning of shady pornographer's central role

(Newser) - The question of whether Jesus was married became a hot topic in academic circles when a papyrus fragment surfaced in which he's quoted as talking about his wife. A Harvard professor was convinced enough to present an academic paper on the subject, though skeptics abounded about the fragment's... More »

7-Year-Old Fools School With Poorly Spelled Note

The tiny forger spent the afternoon unsupervised

(Newser) - A Texas school district is investigating after the staff at one of its elementary schools was fooled by a misspelled, suspiciously childlike note passed off by a 7-year-old student, KTRK reports. Instead of going to the after-school program at Sheldon Elementary like she was supposed to on Monday, Rosabella Dahu... More »

Forger Claims 'Da Vinci' Work Is His Own Fake

Is that a noblewoman or Sally from the co-op?

(Newser) - It might be a da Vinci portrait of a 15th-century noblewoman. Or it might be a fake featuring a modern-day cashier named Sally. Or perhaps neither. Whatever the truth, a forger's "astonishing" claim in Britain has the art world buzzing, reports the Art Newspaper . The claim comes from... More »

Woman Poses as Lawyer, Makes Partner at Firm

Kimberly Kitchen charged with forgery and a few other things

(Newser) - A woman used forged documents to pose as an estate lawyer for a decade and made partner at her small firm before her fraud was discovered, according to charges announced yesterday. Kimberly Kitchen was charged Thursday with forgery, unauthorized practice of law, and felony records tampering. State prosecutors contend Kitchen... More »

Jesus' 'Wife' Papyrus Faces Growing Doubt

Alleged former owner had no interest in antiquities: insiders

(Newser) - A papyrus suggesting Jesus had a wife has sparked continuing controversy since it was announced in 2012 in the Harvard Theological Review. Now, Live Science explains that the evidence against the authenticity of the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" is mounting. Among the site's findings and observations:
  • The supposed
... More »

How a Queens Man Forged Modern Masterpieces

Heat, tea bags used to "age" Pei-Shen Qian's paintings

(Newser) - A painter in Queens and his co-conspirators reportedly managed to trick experts for years with forgeries of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and other masters—and the techniques they used were, it seems, surprisingly simple. For instance: An art dealer in the $33 million scheme, one Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz,... More »

Papyrus Mentioning Jesus' Wife Not a Fake, But...

...that doesn't mean Jesus had a wife

(Newser) - To call it controversial is putting it mildly: Harvard professor Karen L. King in September 2012 debuted an ancient papyrus now known as the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" at a conference in Rome. The papyrus makes an explicit reference to the woman's existence with the line, "Jesus... More »

Art Dealer Admits Her Role in 15-Year Scam

Sold Pollocks, Rothkos, Motherwells ... painted by guy in Queens

(Newser) - An art dealer scored some $33 million selling works supposedly by 20th-century greats like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko—but yesterday she admitted they weren't real, the Wall Street Journal reports. In fact, they were all painted by a Chinese immigrant living in Queens; he hasn't been named... More »

75 Arrested in Human Trafficking Ring Bust

Gang smuggled Chinese citizens into US and Europe for $53K per person, say cops

(Newser) - Police have arrested 51 people in Spain and 24 in France after a two-year investigation into a Barcelona-based organization that was allegedly smuggling Chinese migrants into the US and Europe. Authorities say the gang charged $53,000 per person for "false identities and transport [for] Chinese citizens to the... More »

Brooklyn Museum Legally Forced to Store Fake Art

Museum hoping court will free it from deal forcing it to hole 229 forgeries

(Newser) - The Brooklyn Museum is desperately trying to extricate itself from a strange legal predicament that is currently forcing it to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars storing forgeries and replicas. The museum unwittingly walked into the trap back in 1931, when collector Michael Friedsam bequeathed it his 926-piece collection of... More »

Recruiters Hunted Homeless With Paintball Guns: Probe

Arizona National Guard faces wide-ranging investigation

(Newser) - Members of Arizona's National Guard hunted the homeless with paintball guns, forged documents, sexually abused women, embezzled funds—and were allowed to go more or less scot-free due to a lax and corrupt climate, the Arizona Republic reports. The newspaper's investigation, based on interviews with Guard officers, found... More »

Suicidal CEO Arrested on Fraud Charges

PFGBest founder admits embezzling, blames his ego

(Newser) - Police today arrested Russell Wasendorf Sr., the CEO of Peregrine Financial Group and its PFGBest unit, who allegedly tried to kill himself this week, the US Attorney's office announced. Wasendorf, who was charged with lying to regulators, reportedly admitted embezzling "millions of dollars." The complaint against Wasendorf... More »

Brokerage Accused of Stealing $215M

PFGBest declares bankruptcy in wake of founder's suicide attempt

(Newser) - PFGBest declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy last night, after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed a lawsuit accusing it of fraud, lying to regulators, and abusing customer funds. Regulators believe Russell Wasendorf, who tried to kill himself Monday, had been fabricating bank balances and forging signatures on the documents he submitted... More »

Turin Shroud Is Art, Not Relic: Book

Art historian says he has spotted artist Giotto's signature

(Newser) - The "miraculous" Shroud of Turin is not the actual burial cloth that covered Christ's body, but is merely the work of a Renaissance artist. That's the claim in an explosive new Italian book. Many Catholics believe the shroud shows a mysterious, miraculous image of Christ's body,... More »

Steve Martin Duped by Art Forgery

Fake discovered after actor sells painting at auction

(Newser) - Steve Martin is renowned for his taste in art, but even he got duped by some world-class swindlers, reports Der Spiegel . Martin bought a painting called Landscape With Horses, said to be from modernist Heinrich Campendonk, in 2004 for $850,000. He sold it two years later at Christie's... More »

Men Try to Rob Bank With Fake Search Warrant

Manager outsmarts criminals armed only with handcuffs

(Newser) - Five Nevada men are set to appear in federal court today after allegedly attempting to rob a bank armed only with handcuffs and a fake search warrant. These criminal masterminds claimed that the search warrant entitled them to take all the money out of the bank’s vault, according to... More »

The Strange Story of Jack Kerouac's Estate

A mama's boy, a will that's a forgery, and '100 Greek relatives'

(Newser) - When Jack Kerouac died, wallowing in alcohol and obscurity, the bank estimated his estate’s value at $1. He left everything to his mother, and when she died, she left it to Kerouac’s third wife, Stella Sampas—or so everyone believed. Recently a Florida court ruled Gabrielle Kerouac's will... More »

Sarkozy Oversteps in Rancorous Trial With Foe

Howls as French president calls Villepin 'guilty' in TV interview

(Newser) - Nicolas Sarkozy may have crossed the line in the continuing trial of his political foe Dominique de Villepin, the former French prime minister accused of waging a smear campaign against him in 2004. During a TV interview in New York, Sarkozy called Villepin and his co-defendants "the guilty parties"... More »

'Jesus Burial Box' Trial Gets Thorny

Judge skeptical after witnesses seemingly contradict own testimony

(Newser) - The public is already frowning on a Tel Aviv man accused of forging the burial box of Jesus' brother James, but the judge in the case has hinted that the case is weak, Matthew Kalman writes in Time. Two scientists, witnesses for the prosecution, have testified that geological conditions could... More »

Missing Picasso Found in Iraq?! Probably Not.

The Naked Woman likely not missing, nor a Picasso, say experts

(Newser) - Iraqi security forces have secured a purported Pablo Picasso painting believed stolen from a Kuwaiti museum during the 1990 invasion, the Times of London reports. Only it’s probably not a Picasso. “It bears absolutely no relation to any Picasso that I can think of,” says one expert.... More »

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