French pensioner charged in 200,000-euro flea-market art scam
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A 69-year-old Frenchman has been charged with fraud and forgery after allegedly selling thousands of fake artworks on the internet. The man passed off paintings and prints picked up at jumble sales as the work of well-known artists.
The man, who is retired and lives in the southern Var region, bought artworks at jumble sales, had them slightly altered and sold them on eBay as the work of artists of local renown, sometimes even internationally famous ones such as Raoul Dufy and Honoré Daumier, sources say.
“Once it had been touched up the work was sold on a marketing site under different pseudonyms at very low prices so as to avoid litigation,” one told the AFP news agency.
The scam earned 200,000 euros over the last two years, prosecutors believe and they have seized several dozen artworks.
Seven people were detained during the week, including the man’s three sons, one of his daughters-in-law and two other relations and three are now on probation.
Anti-art-fraud police started an investigation in 2013 after noticing suspect offers on the internet and a legal inquiry was formally launched in March this year.
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