The court trial for one of the largest art forgeries ever committed is nearing a close. The New York Times has reported that Long Island dealer Glafira Rosales pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday. Rosales, whose name was first mentioned in association with the sale of an allegedly fake Robert Motherwell in 2011, tearfully admitted to nine counts, among them conspiracy to commit money laundering, filing false federal income tax returns, and wire fraud. The case against her covers over 60 forgeries sold through Knoedler & Company and art dealer (and former Knoedler employee) Julian Weissman, which spans a period of 15 years.
According to ArtInfo, Federal Judge Katherine Polk Failla, who presided over the courtroom yesterday, explained before accepting Rosales’ plea that the defendant could face up to 99 years in jail with no chance of parole or early release, as well as possible deportation, being a foreign-born naturalized citizen. In accordance with the plea, Rosales agreed to pay approximately $33.2 million, and up to $81 million in restitutions.
This story began in 2011 with a flurry of back-and-forth lawsuits over an allegedly forged Motherwell painting, “Spanish Elegy,” whose authenticity The Dedalus Foundation had questioned. Since then, “a parade of paintings and drawings,” as The New York Times put it, have been exposed as counterfeits. As specified by The New York Times, Rosales originally claimed to have exclusive access to an anonymous collection of mid-century paintings by Motherwell, Rothko, and Pollock, among others. Those paintings turned out to be contemporary works, made by Pei-Shen Qian, a Chinese immigrant living in Woodhaven, Queens.
The federal indictment against Rosales shows a spreadsheet of checks paid to the painter in amounts ranging from $5,000 – $7,000 with memo lines which read “buying painting.” It goes on to state that Qian made the paintings for Rosales and her partner, who then created fake provenance for the works, from purported Swiss and Spanish clients. Eventual sales from the paintings totaled around $80 million, and was, according to these court documents, funneled through foreign bank accounts.
Rosales is scheduled to be sentenced six months from now, in March 2014.