FBI Investigates 25 Jean-Michel Basquiat Paintings at Orlando Museum of Art

The FBI’s Art Crime Team is investigating the authenticity of 25 Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings on display at the Orlando Museum of Art, according to a federal subpoena and sources who spoke to The New York Times† The owners of the paintings and the director and general manager of the museum, Aaron De Groft, insist they are real. They cite statements from art experts on behalf of the three owners, all of whom have criminal records. De Groft and the owners claim that Basquiat painted the works on sheets of cardboard and sold them to a deceased screenwriter, who put them in a storage room. When the contents of the unit were seized in 2012, the current owners bought the cloths and claim to have celebrated them over lunch, with the original owner giving them a typewritten poem commemorating Basquiat’s first purchase. An investigation by The New York Times, however, questioned the works, as a designer who previously worked for FedEx said the font on one canvas was not designed until 1994, six years after Basquiat’s death. Skeptics argue that the paintings’ backstory is unlikely, as friends of the original owner say he never typed and showed no interest in contemporary art. If authentic, the paintings are worth about $100 million, according to Putnam Fine Art and Antique Appraisals. While the exact target of the FBI investigation is unclear, the sale of art known to be fraudulent is a federal crime.

Read it up The New York Times

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