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Art dealer charged with selling forged Monet, Van Gogh paintings

September 15, 2011 | 10:40 am

Photo: Matthew Taylor. Credit: KTLA-TV A former art dealer was arrested Thursday on a federal indictment that alleges he sold paintings stolen from a Los Angeles art gallery as well as forged pieces he claimed were by Monet and other artists.

Matthew Taylor, 43, of Vero Beach, Fla., was arrested without incident by the FBI in Florida

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Taylor last week on seven felony charges related to art theft and a long-running fraud that targeted a Los Angeles art collector.

The indictment charges Taylor with defrauding the art collector victim out of millions of dollars by selling him forged artworks. Taylor allegedly sold the collector more than 100 paintings -- including works that he falsely claimed were by artists such as Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko -- for a total of more than $2 million, according to prosecutors.

The indictment charges that Taylor altered paintings from unknown artists to make them appear to be the products of famous artists, and then sold the bogus artwork to the victim at higher prices than their actual worth.

Taylor allegedly put forged signatures on the paintings and painted over or concealed names of the actual artists. The indictment also alleges that Taylor attached labels that falsely represented that the artworks were once part of prestigious collections at famous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Guggenheim Museum.

Taylor is accused of stealing a Granville Redmond painting called "Seascape at Twilight" from a gallery in Los Angeles. Taylor later sold that painting to a different gallery for $85,000, claiming that his mother had owned it for several years, the indictment says. The indictment also alleges that Taylor stole a painting by Lucien Frank titled "Park Scene, Paris" from the same L.A. gallery and was seen several years later in possession of the painting. Taylor allegedly laundered and transferred across state lines proceeds from his fraud including $105,000 obtained through sales of four forged paintings in September 2006.

Taylor is charged with three counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering, one count of interstate transportation of stolen property and one count of possession of stolen property. The mail fraud charges each carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The remaining counts carry a maximum sentence of 10 years.


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Photo: Matthew Taylor. Credit: KTLA