Art Dealer Admits Her Role in 15-Year Scam

Sold Pollocks, Rothkos, Motherwells ... painted by guy in Queens
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2013 7:34 AM CDT
Updated Sep 17, 2013 7:45 AM CDT
Art Dealer Admits Her Role in 15-Year Scam
In this publicity image released by MoMA, New York, Jackson Pollock's 1943 Oil, gouache, and plaster on canvas titled, "The She-Wolf," is shown. Pollock was among the artists imitated in forgeries.   (AP Photo/MoMa, N.Y., The Pollock-Krasner Foundation)

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 or charged (and was reportedly often paid just a few thousand dollars per painting), but the same can't be said for dealer Glafira Rosales. She yesterday pleaded guilty in the 15-year scheme, which the New York Times notes was worth a total of $80 million.

Rosales could theoretically face up to 99 years in jail, but she won't be sentenced until March. She pleaded guilty to nine charges, among them money laundering and wire fraud, in a plea bargain that may result in a lesser prison term. Her boyfriend was also implicated in the scheme but hasn't been charged. (Among his alleged roles: giving the paintings "the false patina of age.") Some 40 of the forgeries went to the Knoedler & Company gallery, another 23 were sold by dealer Julian Weissman; the two pocketed $47 million. Knoedler and Weissman are facing lawsuits, but they say they believed the paintings were real; the Times and Journal note Knoedler was forced to close in 2011 after 165 years in business. (Click to read about another wild scam.)

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