The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking information from the public to help find paintings that may have been forged by New York dealer Ely Sakhai and his office manager Houshi Sandjaby, and then sold through Sakhai’s Manhattan gallery Exclusive Art Gallery, Ltd over the last 15 years (The Art Newspaper, No. 154, January 2005, pp.39-40).
The pair pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges on 13 December, following their indictment for mail and wire fraud in 2003. Sakhai also agreed to pay $12.5 million (£6.6 million), and to hand over 11 paintings believed to be authentic, all to be put into a restitution fund for victims.
The sophisticated forgeries were often accompanied by certificates of authenticity and they fooled staff at Christie’s as well as clients in Tokyo and Taiwan who bought directly from Sakhai and Sandjaby. The fakes included expert copies of works by Impressionist, post-Impressionist and modern artists including Marc Chagall, Pierre-August Renoir, Amedeo Modigliani, Paul Klee and others.
The FBI has posted images of paintings and prints known to have been forged by Sakhai on its website. Versions which may be on the market or in private hands are also online. Anyone in possession of such a work, or with information about forged works is urged to call the FBI’s Brooklyn-Queens office % +1 718 286 7100. The FBI art theft website is: www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/arttheft/noticerecov.htm
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as: Is your painting on their website?