But federal prosecutors say they were both fake. In the first real version, a blue bird was flying under my heart and the words “I love you” were actually hanging in the museum in Pittsburgh.
Prosecutors are now prosecuting Daniel Erie Buaziz, owner of Danieli Fine Art, for fraud and money laundering, where he tricks customers into making relatively cheap reproductions of iconic artist’s work. It claims to have been purchased for tens of thousands of dollars per piece. Bouaziz appeared in court on Friday and was released on a $ 500,000 bond.
Bouaziz’s lawyer, Howard J. Schumacher, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Post late Tuesday. Schumacher told the New York Post that Buaziz was an honest art dealer and refunded to dissatisfied customers.
“He has tremendous supporters on an island in a very eclectic region,” Schumacher told the New York Post. “This invasion by the government has affected his reputation, and he wants to clear it.”
According to the Danieli Fine Art website, the gallery features a wide range of works by well-known artists such as Banksy, Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. However, according to the affidavit, some people who set foot in the gallery were suspicious and told the FBI that some of the artwork sold by Buaziz was incredible. According to one witness, if Banksy’s work were genuine, it would be worth millions of dollars.
Banksy tried to destroy his art after selling for $ 1.4 million. The shredded version was just $ 25.4 million.
However, prosecutors said Buaziz sold art at prices well below $ 1 million, and art lovers were fascinated by what they thought was low. In fact, according to his affidavit, Buaziz bought the work for a fraction of what he sold.
In April 2021, art collectors purchased the work from Bouaziz that the gallerists were by Haring, Roy Lichtenstein and Henri Matisse. According to the affidavit, for collectors, getting the work was like finding the “Holy Grail.” Together, they cost $ 290,000.
But then the collector showed his work to another gallery in New York. The director said they were “seeing off”, perhaps fake. One of the paintings was much smaller than the original. Second, the edition number was incorrect. One of the pieces, unlike the original, looked like a print sold on eBay for $ 535.50.
Another customer According to the prosecutor, he paid $ 200,000 as a down payment because he had decided whether to buy five Warhol works from Buaziz for $ 860,000. The work included what Bouaziz described as a screenprint titled “Mickey Mouse,” priced at $ 240,000. The screenprint titled “Moonwalk” was $ 75,000, the affidavit said.
In fact, according to prosecutors, Bouaziz bought prints from the online auction business for $ 1,500 per print within a week before reselling them to customers. However, the customer left the transaction and asked to get their money back. According to his affidavit, Bouaziz repaid about half.
For decades, paintings of famous artists were not open to the public. It is now part of Tiffany’s advertising campaign.
Following some of his transactions, according to prosecutors, Buaziz washed the money he received and bought $ 10,000 Cartier watches and Lamborghini.
According to the affidavit, the FBI also purchased artwork from Buaziz in an undercover investigation, dealing with works by artists such as Basquiat, Banksy, Haring, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Regarding Warhol’s “Superman,” Buaziz said “no one else” and boasted that he was selling at a “great price.” Regarding Richtenstein’s lithograph, he said: “I buy about 200 paintings at auction each year and guarantee my own. It means I’m behind my own.”
And when he tried to sell a picture of George Rodrigue’s blue dog at a low price of $ 48,000, Buaziz allegedly told undercover investigators: I’m honest. “
According to the affidavit, they were all fake.