IT could be the most audacious art heist in history.
Now a Spanish art dealer accused of belonging to a gang that conned collectors out of millions is set to be extradited to New York City.
Jesus Angel Bergantinos Diaz, 67, is suspected of being part of the ring who passed off fake paintings as originals by artists like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning.
Bergantinos and his brother Jose Carlos are alleged to have raked in €72 million offloading the copies to New York galleries.
They then allegedly laundered the money and stashed it overseas.
The dodgy dealer was arrested in Lugo in April 2014 and Spain’s top criminal court has now ordered him to surrender his passport pending extradition hearings.
It is alleged a Chinese artist who Bergantinos met on a Manhattan street, Pei Shen Qian, painted the works from his home studio in Queens during the 15-year scam.
Jose Carlos, who was detained in Sevilla, is believed to have bought old canvasses at flea markets and stained new ones with tea bags.
In 2013, Carlos’ girlfriend, Mexican-US art dealer Glafira Rosales, pleaded guilty before a US judge to selling counterfeit paintings to New York galleries.
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