Jason Edward Kaufman scores with a fraud story set in China. Here the con is a grandiose plan for a network of Contemporary art museums:
The founder of the short-lived Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) China in Hong Kong left the country soon after the museum opened last autumn, leaving behind massive debts, several sources confirm. Jeffrey du Vallier d’Aragon Aranita, a realist painter, registered the non-profit in 2007 and announced plans to establish a network of non-profit MoCAs throughout China that would share collections and programming. Art experts at the time were sceptical that he could secure private funding for even one museum, but on 3 October 2008 MoCA China opened in a 7,500 sq. ft second-floor space in a shopping mall in Hong Kong’s commercial Causeway Bay district. After three months and three shows, MoCA ran out of money and the space closed on 19 January 2009. Szewan Leung, a Hong Kong art consultant who served as artistic director of MoCA China, says that weeks after the inauguration Mr Aranita fled to Hawaii, ostensibly to receive medical treatment, leaving debts of more than HK$2m ($258,000) that he has refused to settle and has since broken off contact with his creditors. Ms Leung, who says she was romantically involved with Mr Aranita until they separated in May 2008, says that as the only legal partner in the organisation she was left to deal with the creditors. The largest is MoCA’s former landlord G.O.D., the company that operates the Delay No Mall shopping centre, with whom Mr Aranita signed a lease “with his personal guarantee”, says Ms Leung.
The Mystery of MoCA China’s Fleeing Founder (The Art Newspaper)