Nine people were arrested last week in Valencia, when police uncovered a forgery ring and seized 271 faked artworks. They are accused of selling and forging artworks by twentieth century masters, including Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.
Chief of the Spanish Police’s Artistic Heritage Brigade told El Mundo that the alleged fraudsters had been working for at least seven years, and that the forgeries were of good quality. Documents found in the raid detailed that the works had been sold at inflated prices, including a drawing costing €1,000 and a fake Tàpies painting retailing for €180,000. He speculated that the fact that the paintings had purported to date from the 20th Century, and were not old masters, made them easier to sell. He also said that online auctions were facilitating the sale of fake art.
Artnet news points out that this is the latest in a number of forgery rings discovered in Spain in recent months:
‘Last January, police arrested forgers specialized in the creation of counterfeit old masters, including Francisco de Goya and José Benlliure. The 27 pieces recovered in their raids in Castellón had a combined price of €1.2 million (see Massive Old Masters Forgery Ring Busted in Spain).
Also in January, three people, including an art dealer, were arrested in Zaragoza for trying to sell fake Miró, Picasso, and Henri Matisse drawings, with nine fake works seized during the operation (see Picasso, Miró, and Matisse Forgery Ring Busted).
In April 2014, Spanish art dealer Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz and his partner were arrested in connection with the infamous Knoedler & Co. art forgery scandal. They stand accused of selling more than $33 million worth of forgeries attributed to Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Motherwell, among others (see Spanish Dealer Arrested for Role in Knoedler Forgery Scam). Last but not least, two brothers from Girona were arrested two weeks ago for attempting to sell a fake Goya to a purported sheikh who, in turn, paid them a deposit with fake money (see Police Arrest Brothers Who Sold a Fake Goya … and Were Paid with Fake Cash).’