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An East Hampton man accused of selling dozens of fake paintings and sketches purported to be by famous artists, and using some of the money to buy a submarine, pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday to one count of wire fraud.

Prosecutors said the man, John Re, 54, claimed the pieces were by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, and caused about $2.5 million in losses to victims. For nine years beginning in 2005, Mr. Re tricked art collectors by creating a false provenance, the document that shows the history of a piece of art, prosecutors said. He bought the submarine, which he called the Deep Quest, with the proceeds from a fake Pollock painting, they said.

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The Michigan state Senate has taken measures to protect the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) works from being sold as a means to help revive the city’s grim economy. On Tuesday, June 4, 2013, the Senate’s General Government Committee approved a bill that aims to codify the ethical standards implemented by the American Alliance of Museums, which bans institutions from selling artworks for any reason other than the enhancement of its collection.

The Senate decided to take action after Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr asked for an appraisal of the DIA’s collection. Orr was considering whether the museum’s multi-billion dollar collection could be considered an asset to Detroit, which could potentially be sold to help cover the city’s $15 billion debt. Orr’s inquiry sparked an immediate reaction and DIA hired bankruptcy lawyer Richard Levin of Cravath, Swaine & Moore to protect the collection from any possible losses.

DIA is a unique public museum as Detroit retains ownership of its building and collection while a separate nonprofit institution manages its day-to-day operations. DIA’s collection includes major works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Many of these masterpieces were donated by the city’s finest collectors, some of who have put restrictions on the works stipulating what DIA or the city can do with the works.

The bill, which was approved on a 5-0 vote, will now move to the full state Senate where it will be reviewed later this week.

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