This Washington, DC area fraud suggests that art work is getting easier to turn into cash. The perpetrator used illegally obtained credit cards to run a variety of scams buying jewelry, obtaining $24,000 in cash in a check scheme and through the purchase and pawning of art works:
A Gaithersburg man with a taste for early Modernism and Damien Hirst was sentenced today to 38 months in prison for felony fraud. Kevin T. Washington, 48, used his gig as a waiter at an unnamed Georgetown restaurant to gather four diners’ credit card information. […] Washington purchased $46,000 of work from a Georgetown art gallery, including etchings by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and contemporary art darling Damien Hirst. (Perhaps Washington was as underwhelmed by Hirst’s work as some of the artist’s critics; he pawned the works at a store in Fairfax County.)
The Washingtonian has more details on the crime like the fact that Washington pawned the $46,000 worth of art for $3303:
Prosecutors’ documents say art gallery figured out who Washington was after Googling his name and finding an article about Washington being arrested on Valentine’s Day 2012 at a Vienna plastic surgery clinic while attempting to use a stolen card to pay for a procedure his girlfriend received there the previous month.
Georgetown Waiter Bought Fanciest Stuff Ever With Stolen Credit Card Info (Washington City Paper)
Georgetown Waiter Sentenced for Arty Credit Card Fraud (Capital Comment/Washingtonian.com)