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Originally published April 20, 2014 at 4:55 PM | Page modified April 21, 2014 at 2:15 PM

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Dealer wanted in U.S. in sales of fake art is nabbed in Spain

Art dealer Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz is wanted for fraud in the United States in connection with the sale of millions of dollars’ worth of counterfeit art.


The Associated Press

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MADRID — A Spanish businessman suspected of having dealt in millions of dollars of fake art has been arrested during Easter festivities in southern Spain, officials said Sunday.

Art dealer Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz, who is wanted for fraud in the United States, was arrested Friday at a luxury hotel in Seville. The Interior Ministry said he was so surprised by his arrest that he had to be attended by medical workers.

Glafira Rosales, Bergantiños Diaz’s partner, was arraigned in New York in August, accused of peddling counterfeit art for 15 years as undiscovered works by renowned artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

The indictment charged Rosales with several offenses, saying she had charged two Manhattan art galleries more than $30 million for 63 pieces of fake art. Each was presented as previously unknown work by 20th-century abstract expressionist artists, also including Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline.

The canvasses actually had been created by a painter working from a studio at his home in Queens. Each bogus piece was exposed to extreme temperatures and the outdoors to artificially age it, authorities said.

About 50 of the pieces they peddled were claimed to have been the property of a person of Eastern European ancestry with residences in Switzerland and Mexico who had inherited the works from a relative and wished to remain anonymous, the indictment said.

Prosecutors said the galleries sold the paintings for more than $80 million, earning nearly $48 million in profits.

Bergantiños Diaz is to appear this week before a judge who will rule on the steps for a likely extradition to the U.S.



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