February 27, 2024

Angel Pereda, 49, of Mexico, was detained in New York and charged with wire fraud after prosecutors accused him of selling works of art that he falsely claimed were by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, the US -American prosecutor, the New York South District announced on Friday.

Prosecutors said Mr Pereda created new fake provenances at least once and sent them to an intermediary in New York in the hopes that a painting was by Basquiat in hopes it could sell for millions of dollars.

Basquiat’s 1982 work Untitled sold for $ 110.5 million in 2017.

Recognition…via the Ministry of Justice

William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a statement: “Mr. Pereda betrayed art buyers in the hope that his victims would fail to tell the difference between real art and a fake. “

Mr Pereda did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Mr Pereda’s actions took place sometime in 2020 and 2021.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Friday, employees of several New York auction houses were approached by people trying to sell works of art – including a vase and paintings – allegedly created by Keith Haring and owned by Mr Pereda.

The Keith Haring Foundation helped investigators determine that the artwork was not actually created by Haring, an investigator wrote in the complaint. (Haring rose to fame for his graphic talents and subway drawings before his death in 1990.)

Investigators also said they found out that Mr. Pereda had given a painting to a person who wanted to try to sell the work for more than $ 6 million. The work was titled “Glory Boys Kingdom” and Mr. Pereda had mistakenly depicted it as being painted by Basquiat. (Basquiat’s paintings dealt with subjects such as colonialism, capitalism, and the legacy of slavery. He died in 1988.)

At the direction of the FBI, the intermediary communicated with Mr. Pereda about the need to produce new provenance documents that would convince the potential buyer of the authenticity of the work, and according to the complaint, Mr. Pereda complied.

Recognition…via the Ministry of Justice

“The alleged forgeries have little or no value, except possibly as evidence of the alleged crime,” said Audrey Strauss, US attorney in Manhattan, in a statement.

Prosecutors said the FBI’s art crime team supported the investigation and found it was ongoing.

Susan Beachy contributed to the research.