In recent art news, known art fraudster Vincent Lopreto, who previously served time in prison for selling forged Damien Hirst prints, was charged in a Manhattan courtroom yesterday for selling nearly half a million dollars worth of counterfeit Damien Hirst prints over a two year period. Lopreto pleaded not guilty. Two other individuals, Marco Saverino and Paul Motta, have been charged in the alleged art fraud scheme as well. Those individuals are being held out of state.
Lopreto was arrested in New Orleans last week following a recent sting operation by undercover New York police officers, who bought a couple of Lopreto’s counterfeit Damien Hirst prints. Lopreto and the other defendants were selling the fake art work for between $3,000 to $14,000 for each print. Authorities claim that Lopreto had been advertising the “limited edition” prints online with alleged fake certificates of authenticity and purchase receipts.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement that this case of fraud “went beyond plain imitation” as the defendants had deceived “a multitude of buyers into purchasing counterfeit art that was falsely passed off as genuine.”
If convicted, Lopreto could receive a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.