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Manhattan Art Dealer Faces Federal Prison Over Investor Scam

  • Ezra Chowaiki pleads guilty to fraud for cheating collectors
  • Prosecutors said he duped clients out of millions of dollars
A work by Wassily Kandinsky on display in London in 2012.
A work by Wassily Kandinsky on display in London in 2012.

Photographer: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

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A Manhattan art dealer pleaded guilty to using paintings by Wassily Kandinsky and other renowned artists as bait to defraud collectors and investors out of millions of dollars.

Ezra Chowaiki, who was the face of Chowaiki & Co. Fine Art Ltd. on Park Avenue before its bankruptcy filing in November, entered his plea Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. He agreed to forfeit $16 million and 25 works of art, including paintings by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Edgar Degas.