Escondido Man Guilty of Art Forgery
Like its better-known 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List, the FBI maintains a similar Top 10 Art Crimes List and pursues criminals all over the world.
Topping the list are the thousands of art and archeological treasures looted from the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad in 2003. About half of the items have been recovered, including the headless statue of King Entemena of Lagash. The FBI recovered the 4,400-year-old sculpture of the Sumerian monarch in 2005. It was repatriated to the government of Iraq in a ceremony in 2006.
The oldest art crime on the FBI's top-ten list is the 1969 theft of the "Nativity" from the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Italy. The 1609 painting by the artist Caravaggio is valued at $20 million.
Created in Response to Looting
In 2004, the FBI established the Art Crime Team (ACT) partly in response to the looting of the Baghdad museum.
The team comprises 20 special agents who investigate art and cultural property crime domestically and internationally. Team agents are specially trained and assist in art-related investigations with agencies like the Los Angeles Police Department Art Theft Detail, INTERPOL Stolen Works of Art Database, and UNESCO Convention for Cultural Property Protection.
Since its creation, the team has recovered more than 15,000 items worth more than $800 million.
Sentenced for Art Forgery
While apprehending the perpetrators of the top-10 art crimes is a high priority, the FBI goes after lesser criminals as well. In December, an art dealer in Escondido near San Diego was sentenced to three years in federal prison for selling forged art.
Charged with wire fraud under Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1343, the dealer pled guilty in August 2021 to selling $1.1 million of forged art to 15 galleries and individuals.
Anyone facing charges from a U.S. Attorney's Office needs a lawyer experienced in federal criminal defense. Call the Sigal Law Group for a free consultation at 818-325-0570.