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West Hollywood antiques dealer pleads guilty to selling fake Picasso for $2 million

May 7, 2010 |  1:38 pm

An antiques dealer who sold a fake Pablo Picasso painting for $2 million has pleaded guilty to witness tampering and lying to the FBI, authorities said Friday.

Tatiana Khan, 70, of West Hollywood, could be sentenced to as much as 25 years in federal prison, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. But she probably will serve less than 21 months under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, he said.

Khan, who owned the Chateau Allegre gallery on La Cienega Boulevard, must surrender a painting by abstract impressionist Willem De Kooning that she bought with the money she received from the sale of “La Femme Au Chapeau Bleu” or “The Woman in the Blue Hat.”

“We will sell it and use the proceeds to repay the victim,” Mrozek said.

Khan had told the art prospector who purchased the fake Picasso that it was worth much more than $2 million. She claimed she was able to give him the deal because she had permission from the Malcolm Forbes family to sell it at the lower price and keep the sale private.

Khan initially told investigators the drawing came from a cosmetologist whose family had purchased it before the Bosnian war. But it turned out Khan had hired a local artist for $1,000 to make a copy of the Picasso based on a photograph.

Khan told the artist to lie to the FBI and say she did only restoration work for Khan, not any copying, authorities said.

“Collectors need to be extremely careful,” Mrozek said. “Fraud comes in all shapes and sizes. Just because she looks like a little old lady doesn’t mean she can’t do harm to your pocketbook.”

-- Ching-Ching Ni