An art dealer pleaded guilty Monday to being the mastermind behind an $80 million fraud in which 63 fake paintings had been pawned off to two galleries in Manhattan. The paintings had been created over a period of 15 years by an artist from Queens.
The dealer, Glafira Rosales wept when she appeared in front of a Manhattan federal judge to plead guilty to the charges of wire fraud, tax crimes and money laundering. Her appearance came just one month after she had pleaded not guilty to an indictment of nine counts.
Rosales is a Mexican immigrant and claimed the paintings were pieces previously unknown by some of the top expressionists of the 20th Century.
The sales of the paintings were to the now closed Knoedler Gallery and to Julian Weissman Fine Art between and took place between the mid 1990s and late 2009.
Rosales, who is from Long Island, earned more than $33 million from selling the paintings and the galleries were able to resell the artwork for over $80 million to their unsuspecting clients, said federal prosecutors.
The works that Rosales sold were reported created by Pei-Shen Qian. The long-time boyfriend of Rosales discovered Qian sometime during the mid 1990s. Qian was selling his art on the streets of Manhattan said the indictment. Qian signed some of the purported artists’ names after painting them.
Qian was not charged, nor has anyone else. However, during a meeting last month at court, prosecutors announced they expected to make additional arrests.
Rosales could face up to 99 years in jail, but it is expected she will be sentenced to far less time due to her plea agreement.
She agreed to hand over $33 million in properties and cash including her home in Sand Points, New York and some artwork that is legitimate that she purchased.