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Bizman sold fake artworks: ED raids 6 sites, says evidence of cartel found

Published:

MUMBAI:

Enforcement Directorate

(ED) conducted searches at six locations in Mumbai as part of a

money laundering

case involving

art dealer

Rajesh Rajpal, solicitor Vishwang Desai, and others who were accused of selling

fake artworks

.
ED said it has found evidence which showed operations of a

cartel

engaged in trading of fake artwork, generation of fake authenticity and provenance certificates, transfer of money through cash and involvement of other prominent art galleries and individuals.

ED said the cartel involved an art gallery in Mumbai, a corporate lawyer and bullion traders. Fake replicas of original paintings by renowned artists such as Jamini Roy and M F Husain were being passed off as authentic with the help of fake certificates; and transfer of payment was done through hawala.
The probe exposed a network of individuals claiming fake origins and creating counterfeit art pieces. Money trail revealed that proceeds from selling fake artwork were sent through domestic hawala to cartel members as commissions or free/discounted artwork. Some cash generated was used to purchase antiques in collaboration with bullion traders and then sold in auctions through reputed auction houses, proceeds of which were received in bank accounts.

The case is based on an FIR registered by Tardeo police on complaint of India head of US-based private equity firm TPG Capital, who alleged purchasing fake paintings worth Rs 17.9 crore from leading Indian artists.
Complainant, Puneet Bhatia, said he bought 11 paintings of various painters, including M F Husain and S H Raza. Bhatia’s friends told him that the paintings appeared to be fake, and he approached a private agency which, upon inspection, informed him that signatures on the paintings were fake.

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