Florida Art Dealer Pleads Guilty in Warhol Forgery Scheme

Florida Art Dealer Pleaded Guilty Yesterday in Fort Pierce Federal Court, for Selling Forged Andy Warhol's Masterpiece.

Feb 23, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol


Florida art dealer pleaded guilty for selling forged Andy Warhol masterpiece. The art dealer’s name is Daniel Elie Bouaziz, and he comes from the Palm Beach. Overall, the FBI detective Marc A. Gervas uncovered Bouaziz crime, who had been following his activities for some time. His investigation started in 2022 and finished one year later.


Florida Art Dealer Cought Through an Undercover Task

A man looks at Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn during Christie’s 20th and 21st Century Art press preview. AFP/Angela Weiss


As previously said, everything started in the spring 2022. Gervasi, who is a part of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, filed an action to the Southern Florida District Court. In his investigation, he felt something was wrong with Bouaziz’s dealings. His suspicion was based on the belief Bouazis was selling fake works of art to a large number of people. Also, he suspected Andy Warhol is not the only artist whose works have been forged.


This scheme includes many more artists: Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, and Banksy. He sold them to at least six people, but could be more. How they determined that he was indeed selling counterfeit art was an undercover operation. The authorities bought from him a “Superman” print, for $25,000.


Mao, by Andy Warhol, 1972, via The Andy Warhol Foundation


While they were negotiating, Bouaziz allegedly told the undercover agent, “This is very rare…He likes a hundred of Superman, a hundred of them. This is, this is one of [sic] to me, this is one of the good ones. You know, that’s a beauty. It’s a small number. It’s really good”. The Carnegie Museum of Art’s stamp was on the back of the print. Supposedly, Bouaziz faked the sticker to make it look like the stamp was real.

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Bouaziz Charged for the Money Laundering

Artist Banksy’s work


Gervasi doubted the validity of the stamps. Because of his suspicions, he checked with the Andy Warhol Foundation and Carnegie Museum. The institutions told him they had no authority or permission to issue such stamps. To bring him to court, agents needed more proof. Because of this, they continued their cooperation with Bouaziz. Also, they kept buying art from him.


Bouaziz allegedly supplied evidence of their veracity each time. Also, with every buying, Gervasi and the undercover agents would photograph the artworks and accompanying documentation. They concluded Bouaziz faked each and every one of them. Finally, the FBI team decided to buy the works of the artists mentioned above, for 22 million.


Florida Art Dealer
The Basquiat Bouaziz attempted to sell for $12 million. VIA COURT DOCUMENTS.


One of Basquiat’s works, which Bouaziz was offering for $12 million, was part of this collection. Gervasi discovered that Bouaziz had purchased that specific piece of writing for $495 from an online auction website. “Bouaziz purchased low-cost reproductions from online auction sites that he then resold to unsuspecting victims, as originals, at drastically increased prices”, Gervasi said.


Bouaziz entered a guilty plea to a single count of money laundering. Through his scheme, he made $200,000 and wired them to his other accounts. The court decided to dismiss 16 additional charges. The final decision about his jail tame the court will make on May 30.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.