User-agent: * Allow: / Legal news, political opinion, Satire, and lawyer thinking by Tim Paynter, Attorney at Law: Pablo Picasso Fake, Willem de Kooning maybe, seller charged

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Pablo Picasso Fake, Willem de Kooning maybe, seller charged

Would you like a Picasso cheap?

Fake Picasso sells for $2M

Willem de Koonig maybe?

Buyer an unhappy camper!

If you could make $2,000,000 selling a fake Picasso would you do it?

A West Hollywood antique dealer could not resist the temptation. She had it fabricated for $1,000 bucks and then sold it to an unwitting buyer for $2 million smackers! 

Tatiana Khan, 69, who owns and resides at the Chateau Allegré gallery on La Cienega Boulevard, allegedly hired an artist to fabricate the Picasso drawing. This one is a copy of a 1902 pastel called “La Femme Au Chapeau Bleu,” or “The Woman in the Blue Hat”.

According to the allegations, Tatiana gave the artist a photograph of the drawing pleading with the artist for help. She said the authentic Picasso was stolen from one of Tatiana’s clients. She needed the copy so she could catch the person who stole the painting.

Shortly after having the painting forged, Tatiana convinced a buyer she was representing the Malcolm Forbes family estate. She said the Forbes family wanted the paintings sold privately. Presumably people of great wealth do these kinds of things when there is a fight inside the family. Tatiana said the buyer could get a really good deal on the painting since it was worth way more than the $2M dollars she was selling it for.

Why Tatiana paid $1000 bucks for her painting who knows.  She could have bought it on line for about $375.00.  At least the on-line peple tell you it is a reproduction.

Tatiana sold her version of the Picasso painting to an unwitting buyer in 2006. It took the buyer a little time to figure out she had been hoodwinked. I guess if you are dumb enough to buy a painting from one of the most sought after artists in history, it will take a bit of time for the light bulb to come on. The buyer had the painting examined by a Picasso expert who gave her the bad news. Sitting on her wall or wherever she kept it was a cheap fake of the real thing!

The art expert called the FBI in 2009. Who knows why the expert called the FBI, maybe the buyer wanted to remain anonymous. I guess I would too. An investigation was launched which quickly led our high level law enforcement to the artist who created the fake Picasso. The artist agreed she would not tell Tatiana about her FBI interview.

Subsequently, the FBI called Tatiana to get her side of the story. Tatiana had to think fast. Most liars do. She told the FBI she had lent $40,000 to a friend and taken the Picasso as collateral.

One would wonder why anyone would hawk a Picasso valued at more than $2,000,000 bucks for $40,000 dollars. Even the rich have a cash flow problem from time to time, but the FBI didn’t buy her story.

Kahn must have decided to go back to the straight and narrow because the FBI says she bought an authentic painting with part of the $2 mil she got from the unknown buyer. Perhaps she was covering her tracks a bit. The painting was a Willem de Kooning, an abstract expressionist, which Tatiana bought for $720,000. The FBI seized the Kooning when they served Tatiana with a criminal complaint.

The criminal complaint charges Khan with wire fraud, making false statements to the FBI and witness tampering. Tatiana was directed to appear in federal court for an initial appearance on January 27.

Usually when these things happen the perpetrator of the fraud finds themselves in jail with a healthy bond. Nothing was mentioned about an arrest in the FBI press release. Instead, the wording in the press release was interesting. It said:

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Assistant United States Attorney
Ranee Katzenstein
Major Frauds Section
(213) 894-2432

Assistant United States Attorney
Richard Robinson
Major Frauds Section
(213) 894-0713

Notice the word “Contact”. Most press releases name the agents and investigators who are on the case but never ask for someone to contact them. Perhaps the FBI is wondering if Tatiana got duped. Perhaps the Fake Pablo Picasso is not the only fraudulent painting being sold. Maybe Tatiana got duped, as well, when she bought the Willem de Kooning. Or perhaps the art expert is mistaken and the Picasso is an original!

How much does a Pablo Picasso really cost?  If Tatiana is convicted the answer is 45 years!

Criminal complaints are always an allegation. Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  The authenticity of a Pablo Picasso or Willem de Kooning, the truth of one's testimony, the proof fine art is fine art is subject to test at trial.  This post is written based upon the FBI allegations, and should not be considered fact.  Even writers can be duped!

   No more cohibas!  Why?

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