NEW YORK CITY (AFP) - An art dealer acknowledged Monday in New York that for nearly 15 years she sold counterfeit paintings to two of the city's top galleries, which earned more than US$80 million (S$101 million) for them.
Glafira Rosales, 57, pleaded guilty before a federal judge in a court saga that has played out for nearly two years.
Between 1994 and 2009, Rosales sold 63 previously unknown works that she claimed were by such artists as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman and Sam Francis, according to the indictment.
The works were sold for US$33.2 million to two prestigious New York galleries that were not named in the indictment, although one was stated as having closed in 2011.
Rosales had claimed that some 50 of the paintings came from a Swiss heir who had inherited them from a collector and wished to remain anonymous.
She sold thirteen others claiming to represent the interests of a Spanish collector.
The works, which Rosales commissioned from a Chinese artist from Queens, New York, were treated with paint from the proper time period by a Spanish companion of Rosales.
The painter was paid several thousand dollars per painting.
Rosales, who is Mexican-American, asked the New York galleries to pay her via Spanish bank accounts, to avoid the IRS.
She pleaded guilty to nine counts including fraud, tax evasion and money laundering, for which she could face up to 99 years in prison.
She also agreed to forfeit some US$33.3 million, including her Long Island home at Sands Point, pay financial restitution to the wronged collectors and pay back taxes.
Her sentence will be announced March 18.