A New York art dealer is accused scamming two prominent Manhattan art galleries out of millions of dollars after she allegedly sold them counterfeit works she claimed had been painted by famous artists like Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning over a period of 15 years, according to an indictment.
Glafira Rosales, 56, of Sands Point, N.Y., pleaded not guilty charges of money laundering, wire fraud, filing false tax returns and failing to report foreign bank accounts at her arraignment Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Rosales reportedly made more than $33 million selling what she called unknown pieces by acclaimed artists that were in fact forgeries, the indictment said. According to the indictment, Rosales sold 63 pieces of falsified art to the two galleries from 1994 to 2009.
Rosales, an art dealer, claimed she got the paintings from collectors in Switzerland and Spain, who investigators later learned did not exist, according to the indictment. She then sold the works to the Manhattan-based galleries, who unknowingly sold the works to customers, the indictment said.
Victims of Rosales' scheme paid more than $80 million collectively for art they later learned was fake, according to the indictment. Many of the clients have since filed civil suits against Rosales and gallery personnel, claiming both the dealer and the galleries knew they were peddling inauthentic works.
"My client has never knowingly sold any art she knew to be forged," Rosales' civil defense attorney told "Good Morning America."
"This was a great con, a great sale on the front end," ABC News consultant and former FBI special agent Brad Garret told "Good Morning America." "For someone to pass a forgery is not that difficult if you have an excellent forgery."
If Rosales is convicted of all counts, she faces a maximum of 59 years in prison. She is being held without bail.