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More arrests expected in N.Y. counterfeit art fraud

| Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, 9:39 p.m.

NEW YORK — More arrests were planned in the criminal case against a New York art dealer accused of peddling counterfeit art for 15 years as the undiscovered works of famous artists including Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, a prosecutor said on Monday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Hernandez made the disclosure at the arraignment of Glafira Rosales, 57, of Sands Point, on Long Island. Rosales, standing beside her lawyer, pleaded not guilty to a superseding indictment that accused her of engaging in the scam from 1994 through 2009.

U.S. District Judge Katherine P. Failla asked Hernandez whether more arrests were planned and he said there were, though he did not elaborate. As for the case against Rosales, he said it would likely be resolved without trial by the end of this month or next. Her lawyer, Steven Kartagener, agreed but declined to comment outside court. She is free on bail.

The refreshed indictment charged Rosales with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and several tax offenses, saying she charged two Manhattan art galleries more than $30 million for 63 fake art pieces promoted as previously unknown works by a variety of abstract expressionist artists of the 20th century, including Pollock, Kooning, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Sam Francis and Franz Kline.

The pieces were created by a Queens painter working in his home studio and garage. Rosales' boyfriend, described in court papers only as a “co-conspirator not named as a defendant,” had observed the artist selling works of art on a lower Manhattan street, the indictment said. The boyfriend paid the painter several thousand dollars to make each bogus art piece, and the painter made each one seem older than it was by exposing it to hot and cold temperatures and the outdoors, authorities said.

To enhance the stories surrounding about 50 of the works of art and boost their values, Rosales and her boyfriend maintained that Rosales was acting as the broker or agent on behalf of a person of Eastern European descent with residences in Switzerland and Mexico who had inherited the works from a relative and wished to remain anonymous, the indictment said.

Others were said to have belonged to a Spanish collector of art who had received the works from a Spanish gallery.

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

According to court papers, the scheme was lucrative to Rosales and her boyfriend. Proceeds of sales of a dozen of the works from 2006 through 2008 alone exceeded $14 million for them.

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