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Monday, 19 August 2013 18:52

Artist Behind Knoedler Fakes Identified

The master forger who was responsible for painting most of the fake modernist artworks sold through the Manhattan gallery Knoedler & Company has been identified. Pei-Shen Qian, a 73-year-old Chinese immigrant, created paintings that imitated works by Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Richard Diebenkorn in his home studio in Queens. The works, which disgraced art dealer Glafira Rosales sold through Knoedler, garnered approximately $80 million; Qian was paid a few thousand dollars for each forgery.

Qian, who studied at the prestigious Art Students League, became involved in the scheme when he met Rosales’ boyfriend and colleague, Jose Carlos Bergantiños, in the early 1990s. Over the course of fifteen years, Qian produced at least 63 paintings and drawings in the style of revered Abstract Expressionists, which were then sold by Rosales and former Knoedler employee, Julian Weissman, through the once-esteemed gallery.

No charges have been brought against Qian although FBI agents did search his home last week. Rosales, who has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering, is the only person who has been indicted in connection to the Knoedler scandal thus far.

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