Disgraced Florida art dealer Daniel Elie Bouaziz has been charged with wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering for allegedly selling reproductions of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Banksy, among other renowned artists, as originals.
Bouaziz was arrested in May for his alleged involvement in the operation, following an FBI raid on one of his Palm Beach galleries, Danieli Fine Art, in December 2021.
Bouaziz faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted on all four counts.
Bouzaiz also owns Galerie Danieli on Worth Avenue, a popular destination for premier gallery outposts. The FBI indictment says the fraudulent art sold by Bouaziz’s companies was originally listed on low-cost online auction sites; Bouaziz bought them and marketed them as originals. He provided misleading provenance documents to create the appearance of authenticity, as well as “false claims and assessments,” according to the indictment, with a stamped signature block reading “Daniel Bouaziz, Certified International Appraiser of fine arts”.
Among the fraudulent works allegedly sold by the Algerian-born French art dealer was a “Basquiat” he purchased on LiveAuctioneers for $495, authorities said. The dealer reportedly turned the job over to an undercover FBI agent for $12 million. A member of the Basquiat estate’s now-disbanded authentication committee identified the work as a forgery, according to the criminal complaint affidavit.
Bouaziz is also accused of selling a Roy Lichtenstein print to an undercover agent for $25,000. A comparison of the reproduction with an image of the original in the artist’s catalog raisonné revealed several glaring differences in the color schemes.
Authorities intervened after clients of Bouaziz began demanding reimbursement of their payments, without success.
“Other victims, who also reported to Bouaziz concerns about the authenticity of their purchased work, both before and after the gallery’s search warrants were executed, have received reimbursement from Bouaziz,” says the complaint.