John Re pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to wire fraud in connection to the sale of fake Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning works to art collectors.
According to authorities, Re, 54, of East Hampton, defrauded collectors over the course of nine years, from March 2005 through January 2014. Re created a false provenance—the history demonstrating an artwork’s authenticity—for dozens of paintings, sketches, and pastels.
Despite repeated instances of appraisers and forensic analysis experts de-authenticating works, Re continued sales, stated the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
“In at least one instance, when confronted by a victim, Re resorted to threats of violence, claiming that his victim should be wary of Re’s purported connections to organized crime,” the office stated.
As part of his plea agreement, Re acknowledged he never sold art that was discovered in a home that formerly belonged to a purported acquantice of Pollock and de Kooning, as he had previously told collectors.
Re pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 10.
Under the plea agreement, Re must forfeit $2.5 million that he made through the sale of fraudulent artworks. U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel issued a post-indictment restraining order that restricts Re’s ability to sell a submarine–the “U.S.S. Deep Quest”–pending the satisfaction of Re’s forfeiture debt.