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Man agrees to plead guilty to Basquiat artwork fraud scheme

former Los Angeles The auctioneer agreed to plead guilty to a cross-border art fraud scheme in which he created a fake artwork and falsely attributed the painting to an artist. Jean-Michel Basquiatfederal prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The painting finally ended at the Orlando Museum of Art Florida Before it was seized by federal agents in a scandal that rocked the museum last year, CEOdeparture.

Basquiat was a successful neo-expressionist painter of the 1980s who lived and worked in New York City until his death of a drug overdose in 1988 at the age of 27. The Orlando Museum of Art scandal came his 2022 with the seizure of 25 of her paintings whose authenticity had been questioned for a decade. The museum was the first to exhibit his work.

Defendant Michael Berzman, 45, was indicted Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles for making false statements to the FBI in an interview last year, the US Department of Justice said in a news release. He has agreed to plead guilty and faces up to five years in prison.

A court date has not been set for Barzman, and his attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. ) admitted to creating the fake painting and agreed to split the proceeds.

A spokeswoman for the Orlando Museum of Art also did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Barzman told the FBI that the notarized documents were found in television writer Thad Mumford’s storage locker after repeated denials in an interview with federal agents led to a felony indictment on Tuesday. By doing so, he admitted to falsifying the origin of the painting.

Barzman previously ran an auction business, buying and reselling the contents of unpaid storage units. He purchased his 2012 Mumford locker.

Mumford, who died in 2018, told investigators he never owned a Basquiat work and that the painting was not in the room the last time he opened it.

The FedEx typeface, which was not used until 1994, about six years after Basquiat’s death, was included in the cardboard used in at least one of Basquiat’s works, experts say, according to the federal search warrant. increase. This artwork was sold painted in 1982.

According to Barzman’s plea bargain, Barzman and “JF” painted on cardboard using a variety of materials and “aged” them outdoors to make them look like they were painted in the 1980s.

But an important clue remained behind one of the paintings seized from the Orlando Museum of Art. Man agrees to plead guilty to Basquiat artwork fraud scheme

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