Art forgers in Spain got a nasty surprise when they attempted to deposit their 1.5 m Euro earning from their sale of a fake Goya, and found that they had been paid with photocopied money.

It was the first batch of the total €4 million that the purchaser had purportedly agreed to pay for the fraudulent Goya painting, Portrait of don Antonio María Esquivel. 

The buyer, allegedly an Arab sheikh, as well as a middle man who was paid €300,000 by the forgers for orchestrating the deal, have disappeared. The painting is currently being held by police.

The con-men are brothers, who bought the painting in 2003 for €270,000 believing it was real. They only ended up paying a deposit of €20,000, however, when the transaction was halted due to the painting’s dubious certificate of authenticity. In 2006, an expert hired by the Girona Provincial Court deemed that the painting was a 19th century copy and the certificate was a fake.

The Court allowed the brothers to keep the painting, and not continue with their purchase, but they soon began to look for a buyer, using the same false certificate. What goes around, comes around…