A SPANISH fake art dealer has been arrested in Sevilla in the middle of Friday evening’s Easter processions.
Businessman Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz, wanted in the US in connection with millions of dollars of fake art deals, was busted at a luxury hotel.
He and partner Glafira Rosales are accused of peddling phoney works by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Koonig for 15 years. They allegedly claimed the works were just previously undiscovered.
Rosales was arrested in New York last August and charged with selling 63 counterfeit artworks to two galleries in Manhattan, New York, for a total of more than $30 million, or €21.7 million.
Each was falsely presented as an unknown work by a 20th century abstract artist, including Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline.
About 50 of the pieces were purported to have been the property of an eastern European person with homes in Switzerland and Mexico. They had apparently inherited the collection from a relative and wished to remain anonymous.
However, the works were actually the product of a painter working from his home. They were then exposed to extreme temperatures to artificially age them.
Prosecutors claimed the two galleries eventually sold the paintings on for the equivalent of more than €58 million, earning nearly €35 million in profits.
Bergantinos Diaz will appear before a judge this week who will likely rule in favour of an extradition to the US.