Three men have been arrested and accused of creating and selling $400,000 in fake Damien Hirst spot prints. The works have been sold to dozens of art collectors around the world.
Vincent Lopreto, 52, appeared in court on Monday, 15 days after previously jailed for another case where he sold the ‘knock-off’ Hirst prints online, the court prosecutors stated. Lopreto pleaded guilty in January 2014 to selling forged Hirst prints online.
The ‘Spot’ prints and paintings are easily forged as Hirst doesn’t even choose the colours
Hirst 52 is the world’s richest artist. He emerged in the 1990s as the leading figure in the Young British Artist (YBA) movement.
The district attorney Cyrus Vance of Manhattan’s court has brought forward charges of grand larceny and a scheme to defraud against Arizona’s Paul Motta, 50 and Marco Saverino, 34.
The defendants not only faked paperwork and the provenance in order to deceive buyers into a false sense that the prints were genuine but managed to steal $400,000 from victims in New York, Britain, Canada, Germany, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan, prosecutors said. The prints were manufactured on a high-quality photocopier. Authorities said he and the other defendants were selling the prints between $3,000 to $14,000 each. They claim that Lopreto had been advertising the “limited edition” prints online alongside fake certificates of authenticity and purchase receipts.
The gang was caught after they were set up by undercover officers posing as collectors. Two sales were made to investigator pretending to be buyers.
New York authorities confiscated materials used to create the forgeries from Lopreto’s apartment in New Orleans, Louisiana, said Vance’s office. Lopreto could receive a sentence of up to 20 year in prison if he is convicted.
In 1995 Damien Hirst won the Turner Prize his work sells in a price range of several thousand to several million for a single work. His work is held in public collections at the Tate Gallery in London to MoMa in New York.
Hirst is one of Britain’s wealthiest persons and regularly appears on the Times’ Rich List., In 2008 his work hit the auction block at Sotheby’s he sold 223 new works for 111 million pounds ($141 million at current exchange rates).
Top Photo: Ronald Bell, 49, left, and Vincent Lopreto, 48. Laguna Beach Police Department