Daniel Elie Bouaziz, a Florida-based art dealer accused of selling fake works of artists like Andy Warhol, has pleaded guilty.
Over the course of a long investigation that concluded in 2021, the FBI investigated Daniel Elie Bouaziz for selling various fake artworks as authentic. The FBI’s Art Crime team went undercover to make deals with Bouaziz as he tried to scam them. For instance, he sold them a “Superman” print for $25,000, claiming to be an original print by Andy Warhol. The image also had a stamp of the Carnegie Museum behind it to make it seem more authentic. However, the authorities concluded from their investigation that neither Carnegie nor the Andy Warhol Foundation was selling such prints.
During the investigation, Daniel Elie Bouaziz refused to provide provenance of the artworks he was selling. When asked, he would simply mention an anonymous German art collector or some galleries. In the last sting operation, before he was arrested, Bouaziz was trying to sell works collectively worth $22 million. This included a $12 million Basquiat, which the team later found out to be a replica that he bought online for $495.
In early 2022, Marc A. Gervasi, a special agent at FBI Art Crime, submitted a detailed report against Daniel Elie Bouaziz at the South Florida District Court. In the report, Gervasi wrote: “The FBI did not observe a single transaction in those accounts in which Bouaziz or his galleries purchased high-value artwork commensurate with the artwork Bouaziz sold to victims as original pieces. Bouaziz purchased low-cost reproductions from online auction sites that he then resold to unsuspecting victims, as originals, at drastically increased prices.”
Now, court filings have revealed that Boaziz has pled guilty to one count of counterfeiting, which involved selling a fake Warhol to a client. In return, the court agreed to drop 16 other charges that were filed against him. The court will announce his sentence on May 30.