NEW YORK — A New York art dealer admitted Monday she took part in a 15-year scam that fooled art enthusiasts into buying more than $80 million of counterfeits imitating famous artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.
Glafira Rosales, 57, of Sands Point, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, telling Judge Katherine P. Failla that for parts of two decades she teamed with others to sell counterfeits of various expressionist artists including Pollock, Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell.
“These works of art were actually fakes created by an individual residing in Queens,” she said, alluding to an artist who had studied at a New York art school and sold paintings on the streets of Manhattan in the 1980s.
She said she sold counterfeits to the Knoedler Gallery and Julian Weissman Fine Art in Manhattan, earning herself millions.
The confession came as Rosales pleaded guilty to nine charges, including wire fraud, tax fraud and money laundering. The charges carry a potential prison term of up to 99 years, though Rosales can earn leniency through a cooperation deal requiring her to share what she knows with prosecutors, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.
Prosecutors say more people will be charged in the case.
An indictment charged Rosales with defrauding the Manhattan art galleries of more than $30 million with 63 fake art pieces. The pieces were promoted as never-before-exhibited and previously unknown works of art, attracting more than $80 million from unsuspecting customers.
She said she arranged for proceeds of the sales to be transferred to banks in Spain and understated much of the income on her tax returns.
As part of a plea deal, Rosales agreed to file amended personal tax returns from 2006 through 2011 and pay taxes and penalties. She also must forfeit $33 million, representing property derived from the crimes, and restitution in a yet-to-be-decided amount up to $81 million.
She also must give up her Long Island home and art purchased between 1994 and 2012.
In return, prosecutors promise not to bring charges related to various crimes, including a fraudulent marriage between Rosales and a U.S. citizen in 1986.
Her sentencing had been set for March 18, but it’s expected to be postponed.
By LARRY NEUMEISTER 09/16/13 04:20 PM ET EDT