In 1995, Glafira Rosales confidently strolled into the prestigious Knoedler Gallery in New York with a painting by abstract expressionist Mark Rothko valued at several million dollars. In addition to this piece, she claimed to have access to similar works because she was helping an unknown man from Mexico known only as Mr. X liquidate his collection of highly coveted art.
The promised treasure trove would be available to anyone with deep enough pockets. Across the next 15 years, Ms. Rosales would walk in the door with paintings…and walk out the door with cash, $81 million to be exact.
As you might have guessed, the “priceless” works attributed to the genius of deceased artists were all fakes. They were nothing more than forgeries and phonies. Instead of being created around the globe by master painters of previous centuries, they were being produced in the apartment of a Chinese immigrant named Pei-Shen Qian who’d previously hawked his paintings on the streets of Manhattan.
The talented artist had a knack for recreating the greats. After producing the imitation artwork, he would “age” it by applying tea or dirt from a vacuum cleaner. This simple con cheated collectors out of millions, tainted the reputation of several well-known artists, and brought down a respected art gallery that had been in business for more than a century and a half. But that’s what happens when counterfeits come into play. Everyone pays a price.
When the Gospel is counterfeited, the cost is far higher….
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