Art Dealer Rosales Pleads Guilty to Fake Painting Sales

A Manhattan art dealer pleaded guilty to selling more than $30 million in fake works purportedly created by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and other renowned 20th century artists.

Glafira Rosales admitted that from 1994 to 2009 she helped sell more than 60 phony artworks to two New York galleries, including the defunct Knoedler Gallery LLC, and hid the proceeds in offshore bank accounts. The galleries sold the works to collectors for $80 million, according to prosecutors.

Rosales pleaded guilty to nine counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and tax crimes in a hearing today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Katherine Polk Failla.

“I agreed with others to sell works of art claimed to be created by various expressionist artists including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell, and to make false representations as to the authenticity and provenance of those works,” Rosales told Failla today. “These works of art were actually fakes created by an individual residing in Queens.”

Rosales faces as long as 20 years in prison on the most serious charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. Rosales agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for the possibility of leniency when she’s sentenced.

Art School

Prosecutors claim Rosales conspired with her long-time companion, whom they didn’t name, in the fraud. The phony artworks were created by the unnamed Queens, New York, painter who had trained in a New York art school, according to the government.

Prosecutors said Rosales told the galleries that some of the works were being sold by a Swiss client who wished to remain anonymous. Others she claimed were being sold by a Spanish collector.

Rosales agreed to pay as much as $81 million in restitution to victims of the scheme, Failla said. She also agreed to forfeit cash, artwork and her Sands Point, New York home. Failla told Rosales, a citizen of Mexico who was naturalized in the U.S. in 2009, that she may lose her U.S. citizenship as a result of her guilty plea.

The case is U.S. v. Rosales, 13-cr-00518, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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