Los Angeles woman sold fake Picasso for $2 million: FBI
By Ravi Matah
LOS ANGELES – A West Hollywood antiques dealer faces charges of selling a fake Picasso drawing for $2 million.
Tatiana Khan allegedly had the forgery made for only $1,000, according to the FBI.
FBI agents also seized a $700,000 de-Kooning painting that the prosecutors allege was purchased with proceeds derived from the sale of the bogus Picasso.
Khan, 69, who owns and resides at the Chateau Allegré gallery on La Cienega Boulevard, allegedly hired an artist to fabricate the Picasso drawing—a 1902 pastel called “La Femme Au Chapeau Bleu,” or “The Woman in the Blue Hat”—by giving the artist a photo of the drawing and telling her the real Picasso artwork had been stolen from one of Khan’s clients and that Khan needed the copy to play a trick that would help catch the thief.
Khan paid the artist $1,000 for the fake Picasso in 2006, and soon after sold the drawing for $2 million.
A criminal complaint filed in United States District Court yesterday afternoon alleges that Khan told the purchaser that the fake Picasso was worth much more than $2 million, but that she was able to sell it for less than market value because it came from the Malcolm Forbes family estate.
Khan allegedly told the purchaser that she was acting as the broker for the Forbes family, which wanted their paintings sold privately due to a dispute within the family.
The FBI began investigating the sale of the artwork in 2009 after the purchaser contacted a Picasso expert, who offered the opinion that the drawing was fake. After being contacted by the FBI, Khan allegedly contacted the artist who made the copy and told the artist not to divulge that she had created the purported Picasso.
When Khan herself was interviewed by the FBI, according to the complaint, Khan claimed that she had obtained the drawing from a cosmetologist who worked near Chateau Allegré as collateral for a $40,000 loan.
The criminal complaint charges Khan with wire fraud, making false statements to the FBI and witness tampering.
When the summons was served, the FBI also seized a painting by abstract expressionist artist Willem de Kooning that Khan allegedly purchased with $720,000 of the proceeds derived from the fraudulent sale of the fake Picasso.
If she is convicted of the charges alleged in the criminal complaint, Khan faces a statutory maximum sentence of 45 years in federal prison.
The buyer’s name was not divulged.
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