Federal authorities today announced charges against Los Angeles gallery owner Tatiana Khan, whom the FBI alleges commissioned a fake Picasso drawing, sold it for $2 million, and purchased a real Willem de Kooning painting with part of the profits.
The 69-year-old proprietor of Chateau Allegré gallery at 815 N. La Cienega Boulevard near West Hollywood was informed of the charges, including wire fraud, making false statements to the FBI and witness tampering, Friday morning, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office statement.
The case started when the buyer became suspicious and had the drawing appraised by an expert who said it was a phony. A federal criminal complaint filed in United States District Court alleges that Khan paid an artist $1,000 to create the counterfeit Picasso based on his 1902 pastel La Femme Au Chapeau Bleu.
When investigators started looking into the case, Khan allegedly asked the artist not to admit that the work was a fake. She also allegedly gave false statements about the origin of the work to FBI agents.
Authorities allege that the gallery owner told the rube that the work was actually worth much more than $2 million but that it was priced for a quick sale because its purported owners, members of the Forbes family, were in the middle of a financial dispute that they did not want publicized — so they had asked her to make a fast and quiet sale for them.
FBI agents seized from Khan a real, $720,000 Willem de Kooning painting that Khan allegedly purchased with proceeds from the fake artwork. She's due in court Jan. 27. The charges carry with them the possibility of 45 years in federal prison.