Huffpost Arts

Florida Art Dealer Arrested For $2 Million Art Scam

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Is the signature on your Monet a little too legible? It could be a fake; word is they're going around.

A former art dealer was arrested in South Florida last Thursday, and was accused of selling forgeries to a Los Angeles art collector. The dealer, Matthew Taylor, allegedly claimed that the pieces were the work of Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The LA art collector, who has not yet been identified, supposedly bought over 100 pieces of fake art from Taylor, paying him approximately $2 million.

Taylor gained an expertise in art while owning a gallery in San Diego, and is accused of using this knowledge to alter works of art by obscure artists in order to pass them off as masterpieces. According to authorities, he "allegedly covered up the signatures and forged the names of the more-famous and more-valuable artists." Taylor is also accused of applying fake stickers from museum collections such as the MOMA and the Guggenheim, a well as stealing a Lucien Frank and a Granville Redmond painting from Los Angeles galleries and selling them to other galleries, scoring $85,000 for the Redmond piece.

He is being charged for wire fraud, money laundering, interstate transportation of stolen property and possession of stolen property. Law enforcement was puzzled at how to approach the case; U.S. Attorney's Office's Thom Mrozek noted "we just don't see that many cases along these lines." So what is the going rate for 100 forgeries? Right now Taylor is facing up to 100 years in prison.