Art dealer sentenced to 25 months for selling fake Andy Warhol works
An art dealer is sentenced to over two years in prison for faking paintings by Andy Warhol, among other artists, in a bid to defraud patrons.
An art dealer from South Florida was sentenced on Tuesday to 25 months in federal prison over the sale of fake Andy Warhol paintings.
Court records show that Daniel Elie Bouaziz was sentenced in Fort Pierce federal court, pleading guilty in February to a single count of money laundering, while prosecutors agreed to drop 16 counts of fraud and embezzlement. Reportedly, Bouaziz was fined $15,000 on top of a restitution hearing set for August 16.
According to prosecutors, Bouaziz, the owner of Danieli Fine Art and Galerie Danieli, has been accused of peddling counterfeit art to a client in October 2021. The fraudulent works included artworks attributed to renowned artist Andy Warhol. Additionally, Bouaziz allegedly sold fake paintings attributed to other prominent artists, namely Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, and Henri Matisse.
Investigators said Bouaziz allegedly assured a customer that the artworks, being sold between $75,000-$240,000, were authentic. Furthermore, they claim that Bouaziz went as far as asserting that certain pieces were signed by the artists, adding another level of deception to the con.
Bouaziz received a down payment of $200,000 from customers, while other funds were wired to other accounts, officials said.
The pieces were purchased in online auctions as reproductions of authentic artworks.
Legal counsels demanded a "reasonable" sentence, given Bouaziz's age and poor health, as the defense sought to underline these factors in a bid to mitigate the sentence that might be handed out in such circumstances.
"While Bouaziz may [have] been generous to some, as countless people claim in their letters of support to this court, he was defrauding others," assistant US attorney Sarah Schall said.
"Bouaziz won people over with his philanthropy, high-end vehicles, ties to the local synagogue, invitations to lunch, history as an opera singer, art events and more," she added.