Sands Point Woman Admits $80M Fake Art Scam

A Sands Point woman has admitted to scamming art buyers out of more than $80 million by selling works she falsely claimed were painted by leading abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning.

Glafira Rosales pleaded guilty Monday at Manhattan federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, filing false tax returns and failing to report foreign bank accounts.

Prosecutors said the 57-year-old woman was an art dealer from 1994 through 2009 who sold paintings purported to be previously unseen works by the famed artists to two prominent Manhattan art galleries for $33 million. The galleries then sold the works for more than $80 million.

Rosales had duped the galleries by claiming to represent an anonymous client from Switzerland who didn’t exist and a Spanish art collector that never actually owned any of the works, authorities said.

The fakes were created by Rosales’ friend, a painter from Queens who sometimes forged the famed artists’ signatures or signed false signatures and used special treatments to make the paintings appear aged, according to investigators.

After making the deals, Rosales filed tax returns falsely claiming that she had not keep several million dollars from the sales that she instead hid in a foreign bank account, prosecutors said.

Rosales will be sentenced March 18 before U.S. District Court Judge Katherine P. Failla. She faces up to 99 years in prison, has agreed to forfeit $33 million, including her home, and to pay $81 million in restitution.

The FBI and IRS are continuing the investigation.