USA News

Daniel Elie Bouaziz allegedly sold fake art in Palm Beach, Florida

A prominent Florida art dealer has been accused of selling fake works from the likes of Jean Michel-Basquiat and Banksy for hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Daniel Elie Bouaziz, who ran two galleries on Palm Beach’s exclusive Worth Avenue, allegedly bought cheap reproductions online and passed them off as authentic to unsuspecting clients.

In one deal, he picked up a $100 Andy Warhol facsimile and sold it for $85,000 to a bamboozled customer, according to federal court papers filed in Florida.

The FBI began monitoring Bouaziz’s activities in 2021 after several patrons alerted them to his alleged misconduct.

They told officials that the works from marquee names like pop artists Roy Lichtenstein and Keith Haring would be worth millions if real — and that Bouaziz’s pricing structures made little sense.

Operating undercover, federal agents soon purchased a bogus Warhol from Bouaziz for $26,000 and also set up an additional deal worth $22 million before his arrest last week, the court papers say.

Agents recorded conversations with Bouaziz in his galleries where he presented the pieces as ironclad investments.

The art dealer allegedly sold fake works from Jean Michel-Basquiat and Banksy.
Department of Justice

“I really gave you a fantastic price,” the gallerist told them during one meeting about a signed Warhol “Superman” print. “You can only make money.”

In one of his more ambitious gambits, Bouaziz allegedly offered undercover agents a Basquiat he bought for 495 euros for $12 million.

The French citizen of Algerian descent appeared to have reveled in his proceeds, according to the complaint. The indictment notes that he used his windfalls for purchases from luxury brands Lamborghini, Rolex and Cartier.

The criminal charges note a total of six alleged victims who each paid tens of thousands of dollars for common reproductions from iconic artists.

selling fake works from the likes of Jean Michel-Basquiat and Banksy
Alleged victims each paid tens of thousands of dollars for common reproductions.
Department of Justice

One purchaser signed over $120,000 for two pieces Bouaziz nabbed for just $600, according to the complaint.

To allay customer suspicions, Bouaziz cast himself as an unimpeachable art appraiser and would provide certificates of authenticity.

His attorney, Howard Schumacher, said his client forged a longstanding reputation as an honest dealer in Palm Beach and that art prices are inherently subjective.

Schumacher said he has already given money back to dissatisfied customers and has always adhered to that policy.

“He has a tremendous following on the island in an area that is very eclectic,” Schumacher said, adding that he plans to plead not guilty. “This intrusion by the government has had an impact on his reputation and he wants to clear that.”

Bouaziz was released on $500,000 bond Friday at his initial court appearance.

File source

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button