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Title: A conspiracy to sell forged works by Picasso, Goya, Manuel Viola, Menchu Gal, and Benjamín Palencia has led to arrests in three major cities in Spain
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AP Photo/Spanish Police A police officer holds a forged Pablo Picasso oil painting in Sevilla, Spain by Reid Singer Published: July 12, 2012...
AP Photo/Spanish Police
A police officer holds a forged Pablo Picasso oil painting in Sevilla, Spain
by Reid Singer
Published: July 12, 2012

A conspiracy to sell forged works by Picasso, Goya, Manuel Viola, Menchu Gal, and Benjamín Palencia has led to arrests in three major cities in Spain, the Spanish news siteInformador reports. Since May, officers from the National Police in Catalonia and Western Andalusia have been closely watching the activity of a prominent (though yet unnamed) gallery owner in Madrid who had been trying to sell a purported Picasso work titled "Buste de Jeune Garçon" for €1 million ($1.22 million). After obtaining the object in Seville, they presented it to experts at the Picasso Museum, who located an original certificate, signed by Picasso's daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso, and concluded that the Madrid painting was falsely attributed.

The investigation began when holders of intellectual property rights of various works by Spanish masters recognized images that had been distributed online by the Madrid dealer. As with many forgery cases, the parties involved had put some elaborate tools in place to persuade collectors and earn their trust. National Police have attributed sixty works to a painter in Cordoba who carefully imitated 16th- to 19th-century styles and passed the works through an aging process before they entered collectors' hands. The newspaper Qué! reports that "Buste de Jeune Garçon" was accompanied by a certificate in the name of another of Picasso's daughters,Paloma Picasso, as well as a typed and signed letter by a reputed French art dealer.

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