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Prince Charles caught amidst $136M art fraud

Prince Charles, heir apparent to the British monarchy, found himself unwittingly entangled in a $136 million art scandal.

The story begins with Dumfries House, a 17th-century historic estate, which occasionally serves as an exhibition for artworks. Recently, Dumfries was exhibiting a line of works from great masters like Salvador Dali, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso.  However, news soon broke out that many of the paintings and other works of arts were actually fake replicas.

The works were apparently made by infamous art forger Tony Tetro. According to Tetro, he was commissioned by James Stunt to make the replicas, fully aware that they were fakes. Once counted as one of the richest men in the UK, Stunt is the former husband of Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone. Stunt apparently loaned the works to the charity owned by Prince Charles for 10 years. The plan was to use the royal sponsorship to boost the value of the works, like the pledge to sell the Monet for $50 million.

Dumfries House Gallery

Prince Charles comes into the picture due to the fact that Dumfries House is managed by his trust. The Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund acquired Dumfries in 2007 and has since used the location for various events. Matters become more complicated considering that the Wildenstein Institute, a prestigious name in the art world, authenticated the originality of the works. This leads to deeper speculations. Were Wildenstein officials complicit in the fraud or simply erred in their judgment? Was Prince Charles’ charity aware that they are acquiring fake replicas? And the most serious of speculations, was Prince Charles himself aware of this fraud?

More details are awaited on the matter. Meanwhile, all the paintings and works in question have been removed from Dumfries House.