The San Francisco Chronicle reveals the indictment of a local gallery owner whom authorities claim was passing along fake Miró prints made by an Italian named Bonfiglioli. The prints were discovered when authorities marked some secretly and then allowed the counterfeiter to continue on his way:
Pasquale Iannetti, 69, who runs Pasquale Iannetti Art Galleries Inc. on Sutter Street, was indicted Thursday by a grand jury in San Francisco on charges of wire and mail fraud for allegedly shipping prints that purportedly had been authorized by Miró, the renowned Spanish Catalan painter and sculptor who died in 1983.
Iannetti is accused of knowingly selling seven fake Miró prints in amounts ranging from $3,600 to $17,902 from 2005 to 2008. But federal prosecutors said the alleged scheme may have dated to at least 1999 and was linked to an international art-fraud ring, in which bogus works were sold in San Francisco as well as in Illinois, Florida and New York. […]
Authorities said Iannetti had obtained fake Miró prints from Italian citizen Elio Bonfiglioli on a consignment basis and paid him a share of the proceeds. Bonfiglioli told a Chicago art dealer working with investigators that he had “established relationships with client galleries in San Francisco that went back 20 years,” U.S. Postal Inspector Patrick Esteban wrote in an affidavit.
Three other San Francisco art galleries – none named in the indictment – are also believed to have worked with Bonfiglioli, investigators said in court documents. From 1999 to 2006, Iannetti’s gallery and the three others in San Francisco wired $258,600 to Bonfiglioli, Esteban’s affidavit said. […]
An undercover investigator had secretly met in Milan with Bonfiglioli before the Italian traveled to the United States in November 2007, authorities said. When he passed through customs at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, authorities found what turned out to be a counterfeit Miró print, Esteban wrote in the affidavit.
Officials secretly marked the print with invisible ink and let Bonfiglioli continue on his journey to San Francisco, where he visited Iannetti’s gallery carrying a “cardboard tube under his arm,” the affidavit said.
In December 2007, postal Inspector Marius Greenspan, who was working undercover and posing as a potential customer, bought the counterfeit Miró print from the gallery for $14,750 while wearing a secret recording device, the affidavit said.
SF Dealer Accused of Selling Fake Miró Prints (SF Chronicle)