They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not in the art world — particularly when it means duping unsuspecting collectors.
Kristine Eubanks, 52, of La Canada, Calif., was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to seven years in prison for selling through a televised auction fake art by such legends as Picasso, Dali and Chagall, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess, during sentencing, called the multimillion-dollar fraud scheme "audacious in its scope" and "blatantly illegal."
Kristine Eubanks, 52, is serving time for what a judge called an "audacious" scheme to sell forged pieces of art like this fake Marc Chagall painting.
Authorities charged that the scam was run through a company called Fine Art Treasures Gallery, which operated an art auction on Friday and Saturday nights on DirectTV and the Dish Network from 2002 to 2006.
Customers were told the art had been found at "estate liquidations all over the world."
But in reality, authorities said, Eubanks and others sold fake and forged art they "purchased from suppliers, as well as forgeries they had printed themselves and signed on behalf of the artists."
To bolster the credibility of the sale, Eubanks and others forged certificates of authenticity.
The scam also involved auctioning off on TV real jewelry with inflated appraisals alongside authentic art. The real and fake were auctioned off in a rigged method in which fake bids were announced on television to drive up the price, authorities said. They said it was unclear what percentage of the art was authentic.
In all, Eubanks and others brought in more than million from an excess of 10,000 customers across the country in the scam, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Bowman told AOL News.
Eubanks pleaded guilty in April 2007 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property and filing a false income tax return, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Her husband, Gerald Sullivan, 54, has pleaded guilty in the case and is scheduled to be sentenced May 24.
Bowman said the government has seized about .8 million from bank accounts controlled by Eubanks and Sullivan. That money has been forfeited to the government, which will pay out money to the victims.
"The government is in the process of notifying victims," Bowman said. "There are a lot of victims who may not even know they bought something fake."
Filme 2010:FOR SHUT-INS: Attractions’ usual DVD round-up has been relocated to the new weekly feature DVDerby. Who won? Who placed? Who showed? Who’s going to the glue factory
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Filme Noi 2011
Also opening: The Chinese action spectacle The Warlords; Thomas Haden Church’s dark comic neo-noir Don McKay (check out an interview with actor here later this morning); Michel Gondry’s intriguing semi-autobiographical family documentary Thorn in the Heart; the dissolving relationship study Breaking Upward (NYC only); and in Los Angeles only, the gay-themed trifecta Just Say Love, Manuela and Manuel and Dream Boy.
Welcome back to Movieline Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or sword-wielding at the movies. This week, a (likely) blockbuster is born, Tyler Perry makes his semi-annual appearance, and Miley Cyrus grows up. Kind of.
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